Harry Houdini is renowned as the greatest illusionist of the 20th century, while some even believed that he was able to communicate with ghosts, that his tricks were the result of dark magic. The facts about him remain shrouded in mist however, for both on stage and off it Houdini was an incorrigible liar.
A large number of the illusionist's tricks remain unexplained even today, with legends saying that those who try to duplicate them pay with their lives.
Houdini performed his most famous trick on August 26, 1907, when, bound in chains and submerged under water he was able to swim up to the surface after 57 seconds.
Experts on the magician's life claim that it was all a well-planned trick, performed with the aid of a water chamber. There still remain a number of questions about how exactly the trick was performed.
Houdini was successful in escaping from locked boxes, a straitjacket, a triple-locked prison cell and even going through corrugated walls.
Although many of his competitors claim to have figured out his secrets, no one has yet been able to duplicate the great magician's tricks.
Houdini's character itself is quite mysterious. Little is known about his background. His real name was Erik Weisz and he was Jewish, although he claimed to have been American on multiple occasions.
It's also known that he was interested in locks and all kinds of locking mechanisms from a young age. He would lock himself and make attempts to escape.
He performed his first trick in front of an audience at a police station in Chicago. There were reporters and journalists present - Houdini had claimed that he could escape from a jail cell even with handcuffs on. To everyone's surprise, he actually did what he claimed.
Later he would repeat the trick in several prisons in the US and Europe.
Over time, Houdini's illusions would become more and more complicated - submerging and escaping from a barrel of water, being locked not just with padlocks but weights and chains as well. His magic tricks made him world-famous and no matter where he went he stirred a frenzy.
Some have speculated that he owed his legendary skills to a combination of sharp intellect and excellent physique. Houdini was familiar with every kind of lock and latch in existence. He could unlock handcuffs by tapping them at just the right spot.
Additionally, Houdini kept his body in perfect shape. He exercised regularly to keep his muscles toned so he could rely on his body during his tricks, in addition to his keen mind.
For the tricks where he would go through walls it's thought that he used a secret passage through which he could go from one side to the other in a matter of seconds.
But the truth behind Houdini`s illusions remains unclear. While still living he promised to reveal his secrets in his will but when his heirs poisoned him they didn't find a single word about his emblematic tricks and the journalists considered it the master magician's final great trick to the world.