Harry Houdini jumps from Harvard Bridge. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).

Magician Harry Houdini was one of the world’s highly revered magicians and one of the 20th century’s first multimedia celebrities. His death-defying acts and unparalleled skill made him a pop culture icon. Apart from his magic, how much do you know really know about him? Read on to find out more about this remarkable man.

Harry Houdini was just his stage name

His real name was Erik Weisz but later changed to Ehrich Weiss after his family emigrated from Hungary to the United States. He always had a deep fascination with magic since he was young, paying particular attention to the work of French magician Eugene Robert-Houdin. When he started his magic career, he used the stage name “Harry Houdini” to pay respect to his hero.

He taught American soldiers how to get out of handcuffs

During World War I, Houdini fully supported the United States in its war efforts. He even took a year off and canceled his touring season to promote the war effort by entertaining soldiers and raising money. He also shared some of his magic secrets to the American troops, teaching them how to escape sinking ships, extricate themselves from ropes, handcuffs, and other restraints should they be captured by German soldiers.

He was a pioneer pilot

While in Europe in 1909, Houdini developed a passion for aviation. He later bought a French-made Voisin biplane and eventually became one of the world’s first private pilots. Known for his tenacity, the magician did not quit after he survived a plane crash he piloted in Germany but continued practicing instead. The Aerial League of Australia certified Houdini’s three successful flights near Melbourne as the country’s first powered controlled flight.

He included the Society of American Magicians in his will

One of Houdini’s most impressive traits was his loyalty. He promoted magic all over the world and enjoined magicians to join the Society of American Magicians which he led until his death. He left a significant sum of money in his will for the magic organization.