Courtesy of Library of Congress

Harry Houdini 1874-1926

Born Ehrich Weiss in Hungary, Harry Houdini achieved fame as a master escape artist. Jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes, and straightjackets - no device was strong enough to hold him. Famous throughout the United States and Europe, Houdini was the consummate showman, keeping audiences rapt with his escapades. One of his favorite stunts was to be shackled and lowered into an enormous milk can filled with water. Hidden behind a curtain, he made his escape within three minutes but remained out of sight three times longer to intensify the suspense.