He is Still a Household Name
Harry Houdini escape artist and magician is one of the most famous, or the most famous, magician of all time. Some wonder why he is still a household word now even though he died nearly one hundred years ago. One thing is for sure, this man had a passion for magic.
“Why is Houdini so famous?” is a Question asked by a Houdini Fan
In the early 1900’s far before there being tool to promote with such as social media or even video streaming, a young man, calling himself Harry Houdini, captured the public’s imagination. Houdini acquired an international stature that even now nearly one hundred years after his death on October 31, 1926, continues.
October 31 is a Part of the Houdini Legacy
October 31st is known to many of us as being Halloween, but it is also known as National Magic Day or as seen on a United States postage stamp, “Houdini Day.” We here at HoudiniDay.com, take great pride in being the official website for Houdini Day. So, we felt that if anyone was going to try to answer the question “Why is Houdini so famous?” we were obligated to do so. You will note that we did not ask “How did Houdini become so famous?” but rather “Why is Houdini so famous?”
Internal and External
There is a big difference between asking “How?” and “Why?” This because when you ask “How?” all you really need to do is to put together a collection of elements or in this case a chronology of steps. Steps that it took for Houdini to achieve fame and then evidence that years after the original fame breakthrough, evidence that his fame continues. “How?” as a question tends to be an approach of gathering components that are looked at externally. Whereas asking “Why” is not external at all.
Why is He so Famous?
When you ask “Why?” you are seeking to uncover something that is not external but rather internal. And posing the question of “Why is Houdini so famous?” consists of trying to unravel why the name “Harry Houdini” is just as relevant today as it was a century ago.
You Can Learn a Lot by Reading Books
Clearly, we cannot conclude here in a short HoudiniDay.com blog post as to “Why is Houdini so famous?” as it is an overly complex subject and one that writers have tried to get to the bottom of in hundreds upon hundreds of books, articles and more. And over the years I have read many of those books, articles and more.
A Fan of Houdini
So, I am being a long time Houdini fan will try to analyze why I am a fan of Houdini today and why I first became a Houdini fan at age 8 which was a little over 50 years ago. I figure that by figuring out what has kept me a fan of Houdini for over 5 decades may give some insight into why others are fans as well. Because even if you do not join a fan club of a celebrity or public figure, you can be a fan.
Keeping His Name Alive
I believe that fans of all kinds whether they are fans because they inspired in a positive way about a person or are gripped by a fascination for someone from the dark side, this continued and renewed fandom going from generation to generation is vital to keeping a name like “Harry Houdini” alive.
So why am I a fan of Houdini’s who is the only celebrity I have ever been and continue to be a diehard fan of? It started at 8 when my parents decided they were hippies and moved myself and my 3 siblings into a very cramped traveling hippie truck. One of the keyways that I was able to cope with this chaotic and inconsiderate action when it came to us kids, was by reading biography after biography about Harry Houdini who in many ways became a father figure for me taking the place of my biological, bullying, and uninterested in father I was stuck with.
Houdini had a Father Figure Too
I saw a kinship with Houdini when reading about him because in many ways he too seemed to see as a father figure someone other than his own biological father. Before Houdini named himself “Houdini” he became first interested in doing magic through reading about the famous French magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. In fact, it was by borrowing from the last name of Jean-Eugène the name “Houdin” which upon adding an “i” became “Houdini.”
Houdini and His Fascination with the Occult
But even if it did not start as seeking a father figure, people all over the world have their own personal reasons why they are drawn to Harry Houdini today. Some say it was because Houdini was a real live superhero who could escape from anything he was bound with. Still others are intrigued by the very understandable fascination Houdini had with wanting to be able to communicate with those who we love who have passed. For Houdini, because he was a magician and understood how tricks were done, desperately wanted to believe that afterlife communication was possible and even offered a large reward to any spirit medium was able to do so. No one collected the reward because Houdini, through magic tricks, was able to duplicate any feat that a medium did who claimed to talk to the dead.
A through line for Houdini was his own mother who when she died left a big gap of sadness for Houdini driving him to want to reach her from beyond the grave. This never happened and no psychic was ever able to collect the reward because any examples of their so call spiritual powers were achievable by Houdini using the principles of magic tricks.
I now live with my wife and our daughter a few blocks away from where Houdini’s wife spent the rest of her years after her husband died. The incredible thing is that I did not know this when we bought our condo. Also, I am now a member here in New York of the specific club that Houdini was the president of that is part of an international magician’s organization. And even though I have since learned that Houdini was probably not the nicest person to be around, he remains an inspiration to me, and I imagine he always will.