One can't mention the word magic without having the great Harry Houdini come to mind. He was born Ehrich Weisz in Budapest, Hungry in 1874. His family emmigrated to the United States where his father had hopes of living the American Dream. Unfortunately, the dream became more of a struggle and young Harry took to the streets to help make money for the family. At age nine, he became a trapeze artist calling himself the Prince of Air. In 1882, he took the name Houdini after his idol Jean Houdin a French Magician.
Throughout his lifetime, he became known as a Freemason, American illusionist, stunt performer, escape artist, and paranormal skeptic. He began to pursue a career as a professional magician performing in dime museums and sideshows. It was while performing in Coney Island that he met his wife Bess Rahner.
With Bess as his assistant, they would perform Medium routines which proved very popular with the audience. Although he believed in the afterlife, he was convinced there were many frauds out there. He went about proving it to himself by producing his own mystical reading. Upon arriving in a town, he and Bess would seek out the local cemetery looking for recent burials and research the names. There was always a big crowd which guaranteed that there would be a hit on at least one or two unsuspecting people in the audience who felt a connection that resonated with them as they delivered a basic reading from the other side. However, Houdini became a bit unnerved when two of his predictions came through with such accuracy that he decided to eliminate it from his show.
It was said he had three loves in his life: performance, his mother, and his wife. Many believed it was in that order. When his mother passed away, he turned to Spiritualists in an attempt to communicate with her. Although he maintained it was possible to communicate with the other side, he only met with disappointment and became disillusioned with the Spiritualists he had encountered thus far.
Then with the end of WWI came a fascination with life after death. Concerned that people would become prey for fraudulent mediums, prompted him to become a member of the Scientific American Committee. Here he went about exposing the fraudulent Spiritualistic phenomena by attending seances wearing a disguise. It wasn't long before he became famous for his exposing and debunking.
In 1920, he met Sir Arthur Canon Doyle the creator of the infamous Sherlock Holmes. They formed an instant friendship and discovered they shared a commonality: grief. Houdini lost his mother and Doyle lost his son in WWI. However, there was soon a strain on the friendship with Houdini being a total skeptic and Doyle a believer. Moreover, as Houdini became more and more determined to expose the frauds, Doyle maintained that he did not have an open mind and was too quick to judgement. It wasn't long before they parted ways.
Nonetheless, with Bess by his side, he continued to mystify the masses with his uncanny ability to escape from handcuffs, ropes, locked trunks, and other bonds. His performance at the Garreth Theater in Detroit, MI, on October 31, 1926, would be his last. It was on that night he met his demise after succumbing to peritonitis as the result of a ruptured appendix.
Long before his passing, he and Bess decided to conduct one last experiment in Spiritualism. He devised a special coded message that he would communicate to her after his death if it were possible. Bess worked with many mediums who insisted they were able to contact him. However, no one was able to deliver that special coded message to her: "Rosabelle believe." After ten years of unsuccessful seances, Bess finally concluded that he was gone and there was no use in trying to communicate with him. She blew out the candle that she had kept vigil for him for ten long years and said, "Ten years is enough to wait for any man."
"A Magician Among the Spirits" by Harry Houdini