The Magic Of Harry Houdini's Staying Power : NPR   Leave a comment

Houdini performing the Chinese Water Torture Cell

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The Magic Of Harry Houdini‘s Staying Power : NPR.

Harry Houdini was known for escaping from handcuffs, straitjackets and water tanks, but his greatest trick was escaping from the dustbin of history. After all, how many popular performers can you name from 1902? Yet more than 80 years after his death, Houdini is still referred to as the greatest magician who ever lived.

A new exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York, called Houdini: Arts and Magic, looks at the visual legacy of Harry Houdini and how his fame managed to survive.

The answer to that question, at least in part, lies in the nature of Houdini’s legend, which was so simple that kids are still passing it around the playground. There once was a man who could escape from anything …

The Great Escaper

“He is the perfect teen idol,” says Teller, one half of the comic-magic duo Penn and Teller. Teller says each generation, from Houdini’s to today’s, has discovered that there’s something elemental about the great magician.

“[He] is this physical and mental superguy; this ultracool James Bond guy that you can strip stark naked and throw into a jail cell and he can get out,” he says. “If you are a teenager, you want self-liberation above all, and there’s Houdini as the perfect shining example of the all-American self-liberator.”

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