Monday, May 27, 2024

The Water Torture Cell captured in 1913

Here's an interesting illustration from the Sporting Life, February 28, 1913, when Houdini was performing the Water Torture Cell at the Finsbury Park Empire in London.

 The artist is very likely drawing from what he saw firsthand. Check out the unusual configuration of the "band of steel" (as Houdini called them) on the cell. It appears that care is being taken to allow the audience to see Houdini's head when inside the cell; hence, the lower section is left open. First time I've seen this.

I also can't help but see a mustache on Houdini in this illustration, but I'm sure that's just a shadow. I've always thought it surprising that Houdini never even experimented with a mustache and remained clean-shaven his entire life. Mustaches were very fashionable at this time, as the historical footage below can attest.

Want more? You can see Houdini's original illustration and notes for the Water Torture cell from the collection of David Haversat as a member of my Patreon below.



  1. Nice! Notice the graying hair at the temples, and the dark tank top. HH was a tank top guy onstage. Cartoons are almost as good as photographs. The USD was ever evolving. What we see in the DC museum was his most recent version. He might have used a glass sided version like Henning did if he had lived a few more decades.

  2. I can’t imagine Houdini in a mustache. He just wouldn’t look right. Lol