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The Literary Digest: Houdini Buried Alive

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Ehrich Weiss, aka, Harry Houdini (1874 - 1926) was a Jewish Hungarian-American magician. His is regarded as the greatest escape artist in history. During his career he as was also a stunt performer, actor and film producer. Throughout his career, Houdini performed three variations on a "Buried Alive" stunt/escape. The first Buried Alive stunt was near Santa Ana, California in 1917, and it almost cost Houdini his life. Houdini was buried, without a casket, in a pit of earth six feet deep. He became exhausted and panicky trying to dig his way to the surface and called for help. When his hand finally broke the surface, he fell unconscious and had to be pulled from the grave by his assistants. Houdini wrote in his diary that the escape was "very dangerous" and that "the weight of the earth is killing." Houdini's second variation on Buried Alive was an endurance test designed to expose mystical Egyptian performer, Rahman Bey, who claimed to use supernatural powers to remain in a sealed casket for an hour. Houdini bettered Bey on August 5, 1926, by remaining in a sealed casket submerged in the swimming pool of New York's Hotel Shelton for one hour and a half. Houdini claimed he did not use any trickery or supernatural powers to accomplish this feat, just controlled breathing.