Houdini and his brother Hardeen appeared many times in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. They did quite well with their shows in the area, and in the rest of Pennsylvania. (Houdini established his brother in the escape business allowing him to do his act, a sign of true family loyalty.) Two of Houdini's early years in show business were with the Welch Brothers Circus out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania a show that traveled throughout the Scranton area. As a star Houdini traveled with his show to the area as well. Scranton was one of the leading vaudeville show towns, and hardly a movie about show business of that era fails to mention Scranton. Houdini lived in New York, rather than Hollywood, so they worked quite often in northeast Pennsylvania. Houdini appeared at the Poli Theaters. His brother appeared at the New Academy and the Poli in both cities.
$1,000 Challenge offered by Houdini when he did the Chinese Water Torture Cell in his show in Scranton
Houdini performed The Chinese Water Torture Cell escape as well as "the masterpiece of the Yogis," the East Indian Needle Trick in one of his shows in Scranton. By this time he had dropped his billing as the Handcuff King due the countless imitators who tried to copy that act. At one of his shows in Scranton, the police chief placed Houdini in handcuffs. Houdini escaped and explained that he did so by contracting his writst bones so small that the cuffs could be slid off. He also told him that he could swallow keys and lock picks the way he swallowed the needles in the needle threading in the mouth trick. Neither of these were in fact his
method. The United States was soon to go to war during one of Houdini's appearances here!
This headline in The Scranton Times during one of the shows of Houdini in Scranton. Germany was torpedoing ships of all nations and The United States was soon to enter World War I. When the United States went to war with Germany Houdini took a year off from work to sell bonds for the war effort. He also had a program to teach American soldiers how to escape from German handcuffs.