Transcript: Harry Houdini | Jul 17, 1999

(music plays)

Against a green background, animated letters read “Blast from the past.”

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Harry Houdini.”

A black and white picture of Houdini appears. He’s wearing a suit and a striped tie.

The Narrator says DESPITE BEING MILDLY
CLAUSTROPHOBIC,
HARRY HOUDINI WAS THE
MASTER OF DARING ESCAPES.
DURING A VISIT TO A NOVA
SCOTIA MENTAL HOSPITAL,
HOUDINI WAS GIVEN A
STRAIGHTJACKET AS A GIFT.
WITHIN A WEEK HE HAD
LEARNED TO ESCAPE FROM IT,
AND IT BECAME
PART OF HIS ACT.
LATER, HIS ACT WOULD INVOLVE
OTHER INSTRUMENTS OF CONFINEMENT
SUCH AS THE BARREL ESCAPE AND
THE WATER TORTURE CELL.
DESPITE HIS ABILITY TO ESCAPE
THESE DANGEROUS SITUATIONS,
HOUDINI WAS OBSESSED
WITH HIS OWN DEATH
AND BELIEVED HIS DEMISE WOULD
OCCUR DURING ONE OF HIS SHOWS.
HOUDINI ADMITTED
TO A FRIEND
THAT A COFFIN HE
HAD ORDERED
WAS NOT SO MUCH FOR
HIS SUBMERSION STUNT
BUT REALLY, FOR HIM
TO BE BURIED IN.

Fast clips show two fishermen, a woman wearing a fur coat, people swimming in a pool, an explosion and a man with his eyes covered.

The Narrator continues BUT DESPITE HIS OBSESSION,
HARRY HOUDINI DID NOT DIE
IN THE MIDST OF
A DARING ESCAPE.
THINGS WENT BAD FOR HARRY WHEN
HE WAS LECTURING IN MONTREAL.
AFTER THE FIRST
LECTURE, A STUDENT
FROM McGILL UNIVERSITY
CAME BACKSTAGE.
HE ASKED THE GREAT MAGICIAN
IF IT WAS TRUE THAT
HE COULD WITHSTAND ANY
PUNCH TO HIS STOMACH.
HOUDINI SAID IT WAS TRUE.
HE HAD CONDITIONED HIS STOMACH
FOR MANY YEARS FOR THE STUNT,
BUT ON THIS DAY, THE STUDENT
PUNCHED HIM WITHOUT WARNING.
IN PAIN, HOUDINI HELD SEVERAL
MORE LECTURES IN MONTREAL
BEFORE GOING TO DETROIT.
THERE, HE COLLAPSED AND
WAS RUSHED TO HOSPITAL
WHERE HE DIED ON
HALLOWEEN, 1926.

A hot-air balloon flies.

The Narrator concludes IT TURNED OUT HOUDINI HAD
HAD A SWOLLEN APPENDIX
FOR SEVERAL DAYS.
WHILE THE PUNCH MAY HAVE
AGGRAVATED THE SITUATION,
IN THE END, IT WAS APPENDICITIS
THAT KILLED HARRY HOUDINI.

A slate reads “A Production of TV Ontario. Copyright The Ontario Educational Communications Authority 1999.”

Watch: Harry Houdini