If Harry Houdini had been able to magically extend his life, he would’ve been 137 years old on Thursday (March 24). And, in honor of the milestone, Google has designed one of its coveted customized Google Doodles to replace its logo at google.com.
The Houdini doodle looks like a characteristically early 20th century playbill one would find pasted to a city wall, depicting Houdini in a set of manacles. A click on the logo brings up search results all about the master magician and escapologist, whose stunts included freeing himself from inescapable handcuffs, escaping a water-filled tank (called, we kid you not, the “Chinese Water Torture Cell), working his way out of a straight jacket and digging his way out of the ground after being buried alive.
How to explain his uncanny ability to escape almost any confinement? “Sherlock Holmes” author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed Houdini to be a medium of some sort, while most believed the dude swallowed keys, then vomited them back up when out of the view of his audience.
Houdini died of peritonitis — an inflammation of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity — and a ruptured appendix in 1926. Some believe it was caused by a series of gut punches he took in an attempt to prove his claim that he could take any above-the-waist body blows without injury.
Houdini left an indelible mark on pop culture, inspiring movies, postage stamps and even a museum dedicated to his legacy in Scranton, Pa. (And this hasn’t come up on “The Office” yet? For shame.)