Anyone who steps up to American Pinball's “Houdini” game is sure to have their imagination piqued. Everyone seems to know his name, but who was Harry Houdini, and why is there such interest in him a century after his demise? We wanted to know, too.
The Real Harry Houdini
That the name Houdini conjures mystery and intrigue would come as no surprise to anyone who saw his act. Born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary in 1874, the rabbi's son made his way to Appleton, Wisconsin as a teenager. One of Erik's first jobs in the United States was as a trapeze performer with a circus. When he was 18, young Weisz relocated to New York City where he dabbled in vaudeville with little success. In 1894, Weisz met and married his stage assistant, Wilhemina Rahner.
Around the turn of the 20th century, Weisz changed his stage name to Houdini as a nod to French prestidigitator, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. Wilhemina adopted the stage name, Beatrice Houdini. Some years later, Houdini besmirched his former hero's reputation when he penned The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. Other books authored by Houdini include Miracle Mongers and Their Methods (1920) and A Magician Among the Spirits (1924)
From 1900 until his death by peritonitis brought on by a sucker punch, Harry Houdini dazzled audiences around the world with feats of escape artistry that remains unmatched. Houdini's props included chains, handcuffs and elaborate containers that ranged from coffins to milk cans to prison cells. The remarkable performer could be shackled with chains and locked in a box and still manage to make his escape. Sometimes, Houdini did his escape tricks while handcuffed and upside down underwater. That trick always made people hold their breath and wonder how (or even if) the Hungarian-American spellbinder would cheat death one more time. The amazing skills of this master escapist can be seen in numerous motion pictures that were made between 1916 and 1923
Harry Houdini died on Hallowe'en day in 1926. After Harry died, his widow revealed a pact made during his lifetime wherein the couple agreed that whichever of them died first would contact the other, if they were able to do so. Every Hallowe'en night for many decades, Beatrice Houdini conducted a séance and tried to summon her late husband. Shortly before her own death in 1943, Mrs. Houdini declared the metaphysical experiment a failure.
Now you know why pinball manufacturers in Chicago created a fun-to-play pinball game based on the remarkable real-life character, Harry Houdini. This is our first game offering, but it sure won't be our last. Global enthusiasm for our new pinball game is precisely the impetus we need to propel our creative team of pinball manufacturers in Chicago forward to building the next great game.
You can see Houdini up close and personal at selected pinball game distributors from coast to coast. If you have any questions or comments, please call American Pinball Inc. at (847) 893-6800. Pinball Manufacturers Chicago