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McGill University
CHEM 180
Joe Schwarcz

April 15, 2013 1 Magic - Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary (although he always insisted that he was born in Appleton, Wisconsin – he emigrated there) - He was born as Erich Weiss - They came to North America because he father found a job in Appleton - He joined a travelling medicine show (where he met his wife) - He took the name Houdini by adding an “I” to his idle Robert Houdin (magician) o Robert Houdin changed magic forever, he got away from dressing up like a wizard and dressed in elegant evening wear. He produced a whole evening of entertainment. o He manufactured the blooming orange tree and Antonio Diavolo (little doll that swings on a trapeze) o The illusion that got him a lot of fame was the suspension illusion – It was introduced when William Morton first used an anesthetic (ether) successfully (because Houdin used ether as part of the story for the trick people weren’t scared to use it as an anesthesia) o Houdini worte a book called “The Unmasking of Robert Houdin” accusing him of stealing other magicians tricks (all because Houdin’s widow wife hadn’t heard of Houdini) - The Houdini’s Metamorphosis: a trunk is brought out on stage, the assistant is shackled and put into the box, the magician stands on top of the box, holds up a curtain, lets go and the 2 people change places - Houdini had another idea, which really made him famous around the world. The idea of escaping from handcuffs/chains. o The key was the challenge; he would ask people who bring their own handcuffs to chain him up. o He worked very hard, practiced and knew how to get out of almost every type of lock o He would tape a small piece of wire to the bottom of his shoe - Had the ability to hold his breath for 4 minutes
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