Harry Houdini Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Harry Houdini Net Worth 

Harry Houdini had an estimated net worth of $5 million at death. Harry Houdini’s grand illusions and daring, spectacular escape acts made him one of the most famous magicians of all time. He earned most of his income from his stunt performances and movies. 

Harry Houdini, who was fascinated by magic from a young age, began performing and drew attention for his daring feats of escape. In 1893, he married Wilhelmina Rahner, who would later become his onstage partner. Houdini continued to perform escape acts until his death in Detroit, Michigan on October 31, 1926.

To calculate the net worth of Harry Houdini, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Harry Houdini
Net Worth: $5 Million
Monthly Salary: $300 Thousand
Annual Income: $1 Million
Source of Wealth: Stunt Performer, Actor, Magician, Film Producer

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Early Life

On March 24, 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, Erich Weisz was born. As a child, Weisz moved with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, where he later claimed he was born, as one of seven children born to a Jewish rabbi and his wife. Weisz moved to New York City with his father when he was 13 years old, taking odd jobs and living in a boarding house before the rest of his family joined them. It was there that he developed an interest in trapeze arts.

Weisz began his professional career as a magician in 1894, renaming himself Harry Houdini, the first name a derivative of his childhood nickname, “Ehrie,” and the last an homage to the great French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. (However, he later wrote The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, a study that set out to debunk Houdin’s skill.) While his magic met with little success, he quickly drew attention for his handcuff escapes. He married fellow performer Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner in 1893, and she would serve as Houdini’s lifelong stage assistant under the name Beatrice “Bess” Houdini.

Commercial Success

In 1899, Houdini’s act piqued the interest of Martin Beck, an entertainment manager who quickly booked him at some of the country’s best vaudeville venues, followed by a tour of Europe. Houdini’s feats would involve the local police, who would strip search him, shackle him, and lock him up. The show was a huge success, and he quickly rose to the position of highest-paid performer in American vaudeville.

In the early 1900s, Houdini continued his act in the United States, constantly upping the ante from handcuffs and straightjackets to locked, water-filled tanks and nailed packing crates. He was able to escape due to his incredible strength as well as his equally incredible ability to pick locks. In 1912, his act reached its apex with the Chinese Water Torture Cell, which would become the defining feature of his career. In it, Houdini was suspended by his feet and lowered upside-down into a locked glass cabinet filled with water, where he had to hold his breath for more than three minutes in order to escape. The act was so daring and popular that it remained in his act until his death in 1926.

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Exploits Outside of Magic

Houdini’s wealth enabled him to pursue other interests, such as aviation and filmmaking. He bought his first plane in 1909 and set out in 1910 to be the first person to fly a controlled power flight over Australia. While he succeeded after several failed attempts, it was later revealed that Houdini was likely beaten to the punch by a Capt. Colin Defries, who made a short flight in December 1909.

Houdini also began a film career, releasing his first film, Merveilleux Exploits du Célébre Houdini Paris, in 1901, which documented his escapes. Following that, he appeared in several films, including The Master Mystery, The Grim Game, and Terror Island. In New York, he established his own production company, Houdini Picture Corporation, as well as a film lab, The Film Development Corporation, but neither was successful. Houdini was named president of Martinka & Co., America’s oldest magic company, in 1923.

Houdini’s publishing career did not end with his literary assassination of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, as he later wrote Miracle Mongers and Their Methods (1920) and A Magician Among the Spirits (1921). (1924).

Houdini was a vocal opponent of fraudulent psychic mediums as president of the Society of American Magicians. He most famously debunked renowned medium Mina Crandon, also known as Margery. This act enraged his former friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a firm believer in spiritualism and Margery’s sight. Despite his anti-spiritual charlatanism activism, Houdini and his wife did experiment with otherworldly spiritualism when they decided that the first of them to die would try to communicate with the survivor from beyond the grave. Bess Houdini declared the experiment a failure before her death in 1943.

Harry Houdini Death

Though the cause of Houdini’s death is unknown, it is certain that he died from acute appendicitis. It is unknown whether his death was caused by a McGill University student testing his will by punching him in the stomach (with permission) or by poison from a horde of angry Spiritualists. What is known is that he died on October 31, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan, of peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix.

Houdini’s props and effects were used after his death by his brother Theodore Hardeen, who eventually sold them to magician and collector Sidney H. Radner. Until Radner auctioned it off in 2004, much of the collection could be seen at the Houdini Museum in Appleton, Wisconsin. The majority of the prized items, including the Water Torture Cell, were purchased by magician David Copperfield.

Further Reading

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