However, in a discussion on this very topic at The Magic Cafe forums, user "Moxahalla" uncovered a quote by Houdini in the Australian newspaper The Argus dated Feb. 18, 1910. The opening paragraph of the article reads:
"If I might be allowed to coin a word, I would call myself an escapologist", said Houdini, the handcuff king, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday, to appear at the Opera-House to night.
In 1910 when this was written, Murray was only 8 years old.
So it was Houdini, not Murray, who actually coined the word escapologist. But it could be argued that Murray is the one responsible for making it part of the magic lexicon as Houdini never used it, to my knowledge, in any advertising of his own. So maybe they can share the honor. After all, Houdini has a lot of trophies on his mantel, and I've always liked Murray.
In 1974 Val Andrews penned a delightful "autobiography" of Murray (cover posted above). It says Murray because interested in magic at age 5. Unfortunately, the book does not record whether the young Murray remembers Houdini's visit to his home town in 1910. But this certainly could have left an impression on the 8-year-old budding magician. Perhaps enough for him to became an "escapologist" himself one day.
|Murray the "Escapologist" in life and death.
UPDATE: Here are a couple clippings from a March 1915 Indianapolis Star that show Houdini not only used the word "escapologist," but also used it in his advertising. Sorry Murray!
|Click to enlarge.