90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Magic of Harry Houdini

We look back at Harry Houdini and his magic. See images of Harry Houdini, from The Jewish Museum in New York.

Harry Houdini was the greatest escape artist of his time, maybe any time. A century ago, Americans and Europeans flocked to see him shackled, chained, handcuffed, locked in a box, a jail, a water tank, hanging upside down in a straight jacket from a skyscraper, impossibly bound, nearly drowned, then, magically, free.

His magic tricks are legend. His life is quite a story, too.

He was born in Budapest and raised in Wisconsin and New York. His big break was in Omaha. His fame was worldwide. And his death was on Halloween, in Detroit.

We look at the Harry Houdini story, with David Copperfield and more.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Brooke Kamin Rapaport, guest curator of the “Houdini: Art and Magic” exhibit at The Jewish Museum in New York.

Kenneth Silverman, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of “Houdini!!! The career of Ehrich Weiss.” He’s professor emeritus of English at New York University.

David Copperfield, world-renowned illusionist.

Here’s a little from the exhibit’s introduction:

Through impossibly daring feats Harry Houdini (1874-1926) captivated audiences worldwide, and his legendary escapes instill awe to this day…Born Ehrich Weiss, Houdini was known to observers as someone who could not only escape from straitjackets, water tanks, milk cans and handcuffs, but as an individual who threw off his background, making an immigrant’s getaway from Budapest to Appleton, Wisconsin to New York and the international stage. His celebrity and the metaphor of escape have rightly become significant chapters in the Houdini storyline in biographies and biopics. This message is similarly carried in the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century posters, photographs, and film footage from Houdini’s day…

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 23, 2014
Cindy Cook holds a photo of her mother, former Rep. Alice Cook Bassett, at her home in Calais, Vt., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Cook took care of her mother in December when she decided to stop eating and drinking to put an end to her life. (AP)

A bipartisan report says medical care at the end of life needs a big overhaul. One bioethicist says, “After 75, no major interventions. Let me go.”

Sep 23, 2014
Fabiano Caruana, of Italy, was the winner of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, MO. His seven straight wins in the tournament are virtually unprecedented in the history of the game. (Courtesy US Chess Champs)

A young grandmaster just did the impossible at a top chess tournament. No one paid attention. Does chess still matter?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

 
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment