The Handcuff King. Harry Houdini

Houdini’s circus poster | Pinterest

In March 24, 1874, Erich Weisz was born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary. Erich was one of seven children with a HUMBLE upbringing. The Weisz family IMMIGRATED to the United States when Erich was four years old.

From the age of eight, Erich began his work history by helping his family sell newspapers in the streets and later becoming a shoe shine boy.

At the young age of 13, the Weisz family moved to the Big City, New York. Once again, Erich began taking odd jobs in order to support his family. Erich became a local messenger and assistant lining cutter in the garment center, Richter & Sons, a tie factory (, 2015).

Erich also showed talent as an athlete, winning multiple awards in the field of swimming and track. Erich would later use his skills, like holding his breath underwater for extended periods of time, in order to create some of his most famous water escapes.

As Harry Houdini, this talented man baffled the mind with his seemingly impossible acts. With every choreographed trick and clever illusions, he challenged his audience participants to believe even what they couldn’t see. In his career, Houdini became known as the master of magic, King of Cards, and the Handcuff King, because no handcuff could hold him prisoner. Still today, this makes Harry Houdini one of the most famous magicians to ever seize the imagination.

“I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life all mystery and magic.” – Harry Houdini

(The Mysterious Secrets of Harry Houdini | YouTube)



  1. At the young age of eight, Erich Weisz began his work history by helping his family earn money. Give an example of what Erich did to help his family financially.
  2. As a young adult and the start of his career as a magician, Erich Weisz changed his name to Harry Houdini. What important reason could Erich have for changing his name?
  3. Harry Houdini will always be known as the Handcuff King. Describe one of the ways he was able to magically remove his handcuffs in front of a live audience.

Categories: Biography

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13 replies

  1. He sold newspapers And he shined shoes.

    He got his new name from a magician from France.

  2. I have read a literature book on Harry Houdini and I’ve seen a 4th grader do a biography report on him also but I’ve never learned the secrets on how he gets out of the handcuffs, chains and all the things he does and why does those things like jumping in the ocean with handcuffs on his hands in a box that is locked up with chains. I want to know!

    • Lilli.That is great to hear that you are curious of Houdini’s secrets. There are hundreds of pages online devoted to Houdini’s secrets. Also, check your local library for books on Houdini and his career.

  3. The handcuff king is awesome and it’s sad when he send letters to his mother but his mother never wrote back.

  4. 1) He helped his family by selling newspapers, and later on he became a shoe sine boy.

    2)he changed his name to Harry Houdini because he was taking Rober Houdan’s illusions, and wanted to make his name similar to Houdan’s which is Harry Houdini.

    3) He hid keys in his hair. He had to know what keys would open the cuffs. He had to master that kind of stuff and do it under about three minutes.

  5. 1) He helped at the age 8 selling newspapers in the streets and later becoming a shoe shining boy.

    2) So they don’t know his real name and it makes him sound different by sounding powerful and it was his opinion.

    3) The crate had small holes in it to allow Houdini to breathe while he waited for the box to be nailed, trussed,and chained. On two of the four boards on each side it was the bottom ones were not nailed to the crate. Houdini removed the handcuffs while the crate was nailed shut. He then waited until the crate was in the water, opened the trap, and swam to the surface. Ever afterward, Houdini made sure the trap was open before he reached the river bottom.

  6. 1. He helped his family by selling newspapers at the age of 8.

    2. He came across a book that told him the secrets of magic.

    3. Houdini hides the the keys to the cuffs in his hair.

  7. 2. Eric Weisz changed his name because the name is not very catchy or magical.

  8. 1)When Erich was eight he worked by helping his family sell newspaper and later he became a shoe shining boy.

    2)He changed his name because he wanted to sound like his faviorate magican.

    3)Houdini removed his handcuffs buy useing his toes and even dislocading his joints.

  9. 1) By helping his family sell newspaper on the streets and being a shoe shining boy, he helped his family financially.