A man who dedicated his life to inspiring freedom of the mind, Harry Houdini (1874-1926), the world's most famous escape artist and illusionist, was born Ehrich Weiss on this day in Budapest, Hungary.
Searching for a better life, his family moved to the U.S. in 1878. He changed his name to honor Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, considered the father of modern magic. At first a card-trick performer, by 1900 Houdini developed his first escape act.
"Treat me," he once advised, "as you would the most dangerous of the criminal insane."
The 5'5" artist trained hard to develop physical stamina and dexterity. He was able to escape from any restraint-- chains, handcuffs, prison cells, padlocked underwater boxes. Anything. He dazzled. He amazed. He became an international star.
A reviewer called him "the most mysterious and wonderful entertainer the world has ever seen."
Self-confident with a flair for exaggeration, Houdini made things appear larger than life, creating things magical and teaching the amazing transforming power of the imagination.
"I have tried through many sleepless nights to invent schemes to make an audience appreciate some worthy effort of mine," he said and bequeathed his library of magic to the Library of Congress
"Keep up your enthusiasm!" he said. "There is nothing more contagious than exuberant enthusiasm."
Of Houdini, contemporary illusionist David Copperfield said, "his message was that every obstacle could be overcome. The escapes were a metaphor that gave people hope."
Our mind is a night sky.