While researching places that Houdini and Hardeen have performed near my stomping ground in the Midwest, I ran across this interesting article published September 24, 1907 by the Courier Journal in Louisville KY. One thing that really stands out in this article is the mention of his Straitjacket escape being performed in “Full View of the Audience”.
I have read in several books stating that Houdini was the first of the two brothers to perform the Straitjacket escape. Initially this did not win the crowds over. Harry allowed himself to be put into the Straitjacket by volunteers from the audience, then he entered into a cabinet where he made his escape and stumbled out looking like he’d just been in a fight,..yet free. This was a difficult and very physically taxing escape with no trickery or gimmicks however audiences were not sold that he actually escaped from the Jacket. They suspected a confederate was hidden behind the curtain and simply let him out of the restraint.
Hardeen tried the escape in full view of the audience. “Writhing like the worst type of lunatic” until he wriggled out and threw the jacket down on the stage. The crowd bursting into a near frenzy in complete disbelief. How was it possible to liberate oneself from this inhumane apparatus? Apparently Hardeen wired his older brother Houdini to let him know it was a hit! From then on Houdini performed this feat in Full View of the Audience.