March 27th, 2011
02:29 PM ET

Letters to the President: #797 'Houdini's last assistant? Hardly'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: I once stood on a bridge in Boston at the very spot from which Houdini performed an escape. I’m sure being the president is a thrill, but hey…it must be nothing compared to that!

Dear Mr. President,

I read online how Houdini’s last living assistant has passed away. She was 103 and apparently performed some kind of dance routine in one of his shows, which was built around the groundbreaking new entertainment medium of radio. Can you imagine?

The way things have changed in this country over the past hundred years would no doubt make even the old master magician shake his head in wonder. I mean, he built his act on the idea of being able to escape from hundreds of handcuffs, straightjackets, milk cans, and more; but I’ll bet he’d throw his hands up in surrender if he were trapped just once in rush hour traffic here in D.C. Ha!

Actually, Houdini was one of my earliest heroes. I still have a tattered old paperback biography of his life that I discovered when I was still in grade school. I was captivated by the whole idea of this poor kid learning how to seemingly magically escape from any bonds, and soon enough I was trying to emulate him.