Was Harry Houdini America’s first international super spy?


There is a great deal of recent speculation on the life and times of one of magic’s greatest legends, Harry Houdini.  It seems that new information has come to light on things that governments don’t like to talk about.  Espionage.

It seems that during his rise to fame, Houdini often would recruit local police detachments into providing handcuffs, jail cells and other things to break out of.  We also know that he was a man who took his health and fitness regime very seriously and applied that same discipline into training his mind to razor sharpness.

A recently released book, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero claims that Harry Houdini was a spy in the employment of Britain’s Scotland Yard.  William Kalush and Larry Sloman claim to have had access to the diary of former Scotland Yard superintendent William Melville.

In the pages of the diary along with exhaustive research in other areas the two claim to piece together some of the reasoning for Houdini abruptly cancelling shows in America to tour Europe.  They deduct that Melville and Houdini had a reciprocal relationship.  Melville giving Houdini exposure in Europe and granting the request for an escape attempt at Scotland Yard. If Houdini would use his newly found fame and abilities to spy on the goings on in the capitals of other European states.

It is thought that Houdini brought back evidence on troop buildups in Germany prior to the first world war.  But is it too far fetched an idea to believe?

Houdini had the skill set to pull off that kind of job, granted access to the highest levels of government and nobility.  He was an accomplished lock pick and slight of hand artist.  He was known the world over to be able to escape from the inescapable and had a keen mind for hunting out fraud.

So was Harry Houdini a sleuth in plain sight?  I don’t know for sure, and the experts on the topic are also divided on the issue.  But it does make for one hell of a story to tell around the campfire on Houdini’s birthday!

Happy Birthday Harry where ever you are.

Authors Note: For more on Harry Houdini check out these great links on the topic.

Harry Houdini: The Mythbuster of his age.

Spirits Levitation and Sherlock Holmes.

New York Sun: Houdini was a covert agent, new book claims

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6 responses to “Was Harry Houdini America’s first international super spy?

  1. Pingback: Harry Houdini Born On This Day In 1874. | Wis U.P. North

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  3. interesting, will check out that book in the library. Not sure if I will believe but it does make a good story…

  4. Pingback: Your Constraints. Don’t Have To Constrain. Even Houdini Knew That.

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