Houdini was, of course, a national figure in Australia. His theatrical appearances packed every house in which he performed.
On stage, Houdini’s message of escape and triumph over great odds was embraced by his audience. He became a household name by escaping from handcuffs, locked steel boxes, bank safes, nailed crates, prison cells and sealed water chambers.
He freed himself from a strait-jacket in a number of minutes after he was hung upside down from a tall New York building.
In Melbourne (February 17th 1909) he jumped from Queens Bridge into the much aligned, but seldom transparent, waters of the Yarra River, manacled, and yet freed himself within a few minutes, but was unnerved when he surfaced as a corpse was floating next to him.
Houdini was a showman of the first ilk, and he had no false modesty about his achievements as a performer. His aviation he regarded strictly as a hobby he was an amateur pilot, regardless of his skill. He was never known to brag of his flying.
When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104°F (40°C).
Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took to the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital where he died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31 (Halloween), 1926, at the age of 52.