Harry Houdini swallowed and regurgitated solid ivory balls etc.
 
 
B: Alexandra Nagel

Date: 03-23-05


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Excerpt from Houdini: The Untold Story by Milbourne Christopher, London: Cassell, 1969, p. 23:

 
"In the spring [of 1895] Harry [Houdini] signed with the Welsh Brothers Circus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For twenty-six weeks the Houdinis toured under canvas. Harry manipulated playing cards, produced an egg from a red felt bag, changed the color of silk handkerchiefs by pushing them through a paper tube, yanked two knotted pieces of braid through his neck, and shot a borrowed watch to the center of a target. He also worked a Punch-and-Judy routine. Bess sang and danced. Together they presented a second-sight number. Harry, as he walked through the audience, cued the blindfolded Bess with code words so that se could identify the various objects spectators took from their pockets or handbags. "Metamorphosis," always their most applauded feat, closed the act.

An old Japanese gentleman, a member of the San Kitchy Akimoto balancing troupe, was so bored that he sometimes dozed off as he supported one of the younger acrobats on a swaying pole. Between performances he taught Harry how to swallow an ivory ball, show his mouth empty, then bring the ball back. Houdini practiced the regurgitation stunt with a small peeled potato on the end of a string. If the string didn't permit the student swallower to retrieve the potato while he was developing the muscles in his throat, there was no danger. The potato would slide down into his stomach where it could be digested. A few weeks of practice and Harry could handle solid ivory balls almost as well as his instructor. Later the resourceful Houdini was to use the regurgitation technique to baffle committeemen who searched him for concealed tools during his handcuff act."