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It's Launch Day For Houdini's Last Handcuffs: Roy Schwartz announces the release in an IGN article



Harry Houdini: The Man Who Inspired Superheroes

March 24 marks the 150th birthday of the master magician, illusionist and escapologist who inspired the Shadow, Batman, and the very idea of the superhero.

POSTED: MAR 24, 2024 10:00 AM

Famed magician Harry Houdini was one of the 20th century’s biggest celebrities, and remains a global household name to this day. His impossible feats of death-defying escape, otherworldly mystique and the popular legends woven around him have inspired hundreds of booksmoviesTV shows and comics, and even pinballs and videogames, plus countless other appearances and mentions.


Houdini’s daring reputation, along with his muscular physique and real-life adventures exposing con artists, made him more myth than man, and an important evolutionary milestone in the idea of the superhuman.

In honor of his 150th birthday, here’s a look at the man behind the legend, fact vs. fiction (the former being stranger, in his case) and how he helped inspire the idea of the superhero.

HARRY HOUDINI WAS BORN ERIK WEISZ ON MARCH 24, 1874, IN BUDAPEST.

Houdini’s Long Shadow

There are quite a few events and tribute shows planned for Houdini’s 150th around the world, but perhaps the most interesting is the book launch of Houdini’s Last Handcuffs, a fantasy novel by Charlie and Cheryl Young inspired by their childhood in 1950s New York. 

Their father, Morris Young, was a magic enthusiast who as a teenager had seen Houdini perform and met him. In 1961, he coauthored with Walter B. Gibson the highly influential Houdini’s Fabulous Magic, now in its fourth edition. 

The same Walter B. Gibson, a magician in his own right, had ghostwritten for Houdini himself. In 1921 the experience inspired him to create, under the penname Maxwell Grant, a pulp magazine adventurer who had “Houdini’s penchant for escapes, with the hypnotic power of Tibetan mystics”—the Shadow. 

The Shadow, in turn, helped inspire a number of superheroes, most notably Batman. Batman’s cocreator Bill Finger was also inspired by Houdini, making the master magician both a direct and indirect influence on the caped crusader.

THE CREATOR OF THE SHADOW, WALTER B. GIBSON, HAD ALSO GHOSTWRITTEN FOR HOUDINI.


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