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Houdini's unique escapes

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Houdini escaped from many unique challenges. Some of these he did only once and often they were tied in with some promotional item.

Many of these escape were promoted as one-of-a-kind challenges which seemed unique, but Houdini realized that most were just different themes of the same escape. Escaping from a sea monster or giant football was more or less the same as escaping from a sack.


  • Standard U.S. Postal Service mailbag
  • Sea Monster
  • Lit cannon
  • Giant football manufactured by the A. J. Reach Company at the Philadelphia theater, which was laced with brass chains.
  • Wheel that was rotating
  • Milk churn
  • Diving Suit with leaded boots,in thirty fathoms of water without getting wet.
  • Iron boiler
  • Convict ship “Success” in New York City on June 4, 1913 - Houdini was locked in a cell, below deck. It took "more than an hour" for him to escape,jump into the Hudson River and swim to shore. [1]
  • Wooden box built by J. B. Woolsey and Company near Scranton Pennsylvania. [2] - The box was constructed on stage in full view, and sealed tight with seven pounds of nails and tied with rope three quarters of an inch thick and wrapped the rope around the box several times. Houdini escaped from the box in six minutes. Houdini's only provision in the construction of the box was that it would not be made airtight.
  • Beer cask supplied by Scranton Brewery in 1915. Houdini's only stipulation was that the workers devise a way of sealing the cover quickly so Houdini wouldn't be deprived of air for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Four Vises supplied by the Pittsburgh Auto Vise and tool Company.[3]
  • World's Largest Envelope provided by a Chicago envelope company that was 150 inches high and 54 inches wide.
  • Chained to automobile wheels by the Weed Tire Chain Grip Company at the Keith's theater in New York on April 10, 1908.
  • Navy Deep See Diving Suit at the Norfolk Navy Yard (1912)[4]

Sometimes he refused a challenge if it didn't fit into his normal method for escaping:

  • A giant light-bulb that was blown around him, without breaking the glass
  • Two bathtubs that were spiked together
  • Drawn-and-quartered: handcuffed to four horses that would race off in opposite directions.
  • A house of bricks built around him.

Although he might not have accepted some of these challenges, he did develop some methods to escape from them and also created some of his own escapes based on them. [5]


  3. Houdini! by Kenneth Silverman (1996)
  5. The secret life of Houdini: the making of America's first superhero by William Kalush, Larry Sloman (2006)