Harry Houdini

Houdini's Water Torture Cell

What was it?

Houdini's water torture cell was an illusion that he performed.It was a box filled with water but kept him in an upside-down position while the locks were being secured and the curtains were being closed.In a late version, four hasps held the top framework keys were inserted in each keyhole, locking the hasps, but secretly releasing the two boards which formed the stocks.
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What was the trick?

The bars at the front of the cell enabled Houdini to gain a firm grip and work his body upward to apply full strength in getting his feet free. He could then twist sideways, draw his feet down into the cell, do a quick flip turnover and come up for air, head first.The top was deep-set and Houdini had no trouble getting his head above water level, which had already been lowered by the splash from his upsidedown immersion. It was then a matter of opening the top doors fully and climbing out between the two stock boards that had been unlatched when the hasp-lock keys were turned. The two stock boards could then be flipped open on end hinges. Houdini then let himself down outside the tank, closed it completely and made his dramatic appearance from the cabinet.
The Water Torture Cell