Famous Escape Artists

Famous escape artists, or escapologists, have been dazzling the world for hundreds of years. Spectators can only hold their breath in anticipation to see if the performer can extricate himself before it is too late. The most-remembered artists push the envelope of safety to the limit and keep their audiences waiting for their next trick with bated breath. Among the greats:

Harry Houdini, perhaps the most-celebrated escape artist of all time. His skill as a lock-picker and contortionist allowed him to free himself from a wide variety of handcuffs, chains and padlocks, rope binding, straightjackets and even prison cells. He also performed illusionist tricks where he appeared to escape from containers with the help of cleverly placed mirrors and diversions.

Alan Alan, a British escapologist who was an original performer (meaning he created tricks that later magicians attempted to replicate). He specialized in stunts that defied death and gave him a limited amount of time to escape -- such as hanging upside down in a straightjacket tied to a rope that was set on fire.

Dean Alan Carnegie, known as the "Artist of Mystery." Carnegie's claim to fame was managing to escape from a postal service mail bag after having been challenged to do so by his local Post Office branch. He also performed in front of three U.S. presidents.

Anthony Martin, who started escaping by the age of 12. Martin has successfully freed himself from metal boxes thrown out of a plane, skydiving to safety. He also has escaped from a steel cage lowered into an ice-filled quarry and has escaped from over a dozen prisons. Martin is also an expert locksmith and consultant to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Dorothy Dietrich, the most famous woman performing in a man's world. She has replicated many of Houdini's and Alan's stunts, and even performed a trick Houdini opted out of -- catching a bullet in her mouth in a metal cup. Dietrich also works tirelessly to debunk mediums who prey on the unsuspecting -- again following in her mentor Houdini's footsteps.

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