Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. Houdini Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
Timeline of Houdini's Life index.html index_2.html index_3.html
1899 1899After struggling for six years, Houdini catches his big break. Theater manager Martin Beck sees his handcuff act in St. Paul, and wires several days later: "You can open Omaha March 26 sixty dollars, will see act probably make you proposition for all next season." Within months, Beck has Houdini in demand at top vaudeville houses across the country.
1900 "The King of Handcuffs" sets sail for England, hoping to meet with as much success in Europe as he had enjoyed over the last year in America. He would spend the bulk of the next five years overseas, becoming a truly international star.
In September, Houdini is stripped naked before three hundred German policemen in Berlin and escapes in six minutes. The consummate publicist, he was soon advertising himself as "the only artist in the history of Europe to whom the German police have given the Imperial certificates."
1902 In Cologne, Germany, Houdini brings a slander suit against a local newspaper and a police officer who accused him of bribery and fraud. He won the case, but only by showing the court some of his escape methods.
A body builder named Hodgson responds to Houdini’s open challenge in Blackburn, England. The hour and forty minute struggle to free himself from the irons completely exhausts Houdini, who is covered in bloody welts by the end of the evening.
1904 1904Houdini performs his legendary "Mirror Cuff" escape at the London Hippodrome. It had taken a Birmingham blacksmith five years to build the cuffs, which featured an impossible-to-pick set of nesting Bramah locks. The challenge is big news in the press for weeks. After an hour-long struggle, Houdini emerges free from the cuffs and is carried away in triumph by the adoring crowd.
1905 Houdini buys a seven acre farm in Stamford, Connecticut and an elegant brownstone in fashionable Harlem. His mother, sister, and two brothers move into the brownstone, which would serve as Houdini’s home base for years.
1906 Houdini makes a splash with his widely publicized escape from the Washington, D.C. jail that once held Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield.
1907 The first of Houdini’s "manacled bridge jumps" is captured on film in Rochester, New York. After the jump, Houdini proudly writes in his diary, "Ma saw me jump!"
1908 Houdini begins performing his celebrated milk can escape. Ever the master showman, he reminds the audience in his ads that "Failure Means a Drowning Death."
Houdini publishes his controversial book, "The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin."
1910 Houdini makes the first "real" flight on the continent of Australia, piloting his Voison on a sustained flight of three and a half minutes.

1874 - 1898 | 1899 - 1910 | 1912 - 1926

The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide
The American Experience | Kids | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe

©  New content 1999 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: