Decreasing show attendance demanded
innovation from Houdini. In 1908 during this slowing period,
Houdini increased interest by developing a new escape and adding
it to his show. It was called "The Milk Can Escape."
This dangerous trick renewed interest and he took the new show
back to Europe. A beautiful poster declared to all "Failure
Means a Drowning Death." Suddenly the threat of "death"
upon failure was introduced and became a standard which escape
artists have imitated since it's introduction. The tag line was
very successful and found it's way into multiple ad campaigns.
Competition was tougher this time, even his
new trick was quickly copied by competitors. Houdini discovered
one competitor using his invention, a woman booking herself as "The
Incredible Miss Undini." When Houdini confronted the
theatre owners with a suit, Miss Undini did a vanishing act.
It was during this period that Houdini's
clever unique approach to advertising and publicity flourished.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing stunts was one that he pulled
while on tour in Paris, France. Houdini hired seven men to sit
side by side at a busy sidewalk cafe facing traffic. The men
were similar in appearance and wore the same suits and top hats.
At given intervals, the men would simultaneously remove their
hats to reveal seven bald heads. Each one had a letter written
on his head which spelled out "H O U D I N I."
Another of his most celebrated escapoloty
stunts was actually invented by his brother, Theo, who was then
appearing throughout the U.S. and Europe as "Hardeen,
Brother of Houdini." Both were doing the strait-jacket
escape hidden behind a curtain cabinet. One night the audience
demanded that Theo let them see him escape. Their thoughts were
that an assistant was hidden who would actually release Hardeen
from the restraint. The, who wasn't using any assistant
responded to the audience request by performing the escape in