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February 18
2020
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A Guide to the Greatest Escape Artists to Ever Live

A Guide to the Greatest Escape Artists to Ever Live

Houdini, Dietrich, and Santini – familiar names to most. What do these three have in common? Strength, quick wits, flexibility, and patience. Though many know the names of the greatest escape artists to ever live, few know the depth of daring, height of sensational danger, or grandest achievements accomplished by the greatest escapology masters. In the content below, we will dive into the lives of the greatest escape artists to ever live!

A Brief Exploration of Escapology

Be definition, escapology is the practice of escaping from traps, handcuffs, coffins, boxes, tanks, or some perilous combination of restraints. Performers have practiced escapology for years. In the mid-1800s, the Davenport Brothers stunned viewers with escapee phenomena and other illusionists followed suit. However, it was not until Harry Houdini entered the scene that escapology grew in popularity as a recognized entertainment. To kickstart our guide to famous escape artists, Houdini is a great place to begin.

Harry Houdini

“The greatest escape I ever made,” Houdini once joked, “was when I left Appleton, Wisconsin.” Despite his comical claim to fame, Houdini is known as the greatest escape artist to live. Before his death in 1926, Houdini escaped chains, padlocks, handcuffs, stocks, and graves. He performed through the U.S., Europe, and around the world, spreading a reputation for magnificent stunts. Though known for dozens of impressive tricks, many escapologists would agree that his Belly of a Whale Escape is most notable.

Belly of a Whale Escape

While in Boston, Houdini was challenged by businessmen to escape… from a whale’s belly. As per Houdini’s normal routine, his challengers demanded that Houdini be handcuffed and shackled in leg-irons. Then, he would be sewn inside a whale’s belly. Houdini accepted the challenge, probably without so much as blinking an eye. Who thinks twice before rising to such a challenge?

After the great escape artist was shackled and sewn inside the whale, the giant fish was tightly wrapped in chains. Viewers watched with batted breath and racing hearts for fifteen agonizingly long minutes. Soon, they saw Houdini emerge from the belly of the whale with a broad smile.

Dorothy Dietrich

Dorothy Dietrich is yet another great escape artist, known for crossing boundaries no female stage magician crossed before. She caught a bullet in her mouth; she escaped a straitjacket while suspended from a burning rope. Some even refer to her as “The Female Houdini,” her childhood hero and escapist inspiration. Dorothy was dedicated to breaking down barriers between men and women in the realm of escapology – and she succeeded.

Dean Gunnarson

An escape artist from Canada, Dean Gunnarson rose to popularity due to his propensity for daring, life-threatening stunts. Among his most famous is a trick called the “Car Crusher.” During this stunt, Gunnarson was chained and handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car being lifted into a crusher with moments to escape before being compressed with the vehicle. He always managed to make a harrowing escape – just in time. In Houdini-fashion, he was buried alive, emerging from his living grave two days later.

Robert Gallup

An American escape artist, Gallup is known for “extreme magic.” Like Gunnarson, Dietrich, and Houdini, Gallup prefers life-threatening tricks to stun his audience. Gallup is best known for his “Skydive Chain Escape,” a trick sure to send shivers down the spine of anyone who fears heights. During the “Skydive Chain Escape,” Gallup was hurled from an airplane at 14,000 feet – chained, handcuffed, and covered in padlocks.

Steve Santini

Steve Santini stands out from the rest due to his obsession with bizarre, macabre stunts – earning him the title “The Dark Master of Escape.” He often blasted heavy metal music during his stage performances. He has escaped from jails and dungeons while navigating chainsaws, explosives, and other deadly weaponry. His most dangerous, most impressive stunt?

The Cremation Chamber

Santini himself described the lofty trick: “Once I’m secured inside the vault, a metal box will be bolted over the top of the handle and dial on the outside of the door preventing my staff from a quick rescue, should it be needed. Other precautions have also been taken to make the vault as escape proof as possible. On the inside of the vault door, the steel plate that covers the lock that is normally removable has been replaced with a single sheet of steel so that there is no access to the mechanism on the door. On three sides of the vault are propane flamethrowers that will be turned on once everything is secured outside, sending flames pounding against the metal sides and back of the vault. This one’s going to be the toughest of my career.” When Santini revealed his stunt to the world, the world wondered how he would survive. How did he plan to escape?

Of course, Santini did flee the flaming tomb, proving to be a true master of extreme escapology.

David Blaine

David Blaine is known for patience and endurance in extreme trial. His most famous include ice and altitude. He famously survived encasement in a block of ice for 63 hours. For 44 days, he hung from a closed case 30 feet above the River Thames.

We wonder what Londoners may have thought about the strange case, hanging precariously above the river for over a month. Did they know the escapologist David Blaine was inside?

Roslyn Walker

Known for exceeding the bounds of what was thought possible, we must mention Roslyn Walker, world record breaker. In 2011, Walker escaped from nine handcuffs in one minute, eventually leading to escaping from 677 handcuffs in a single hour.

EscapeWorks

What do each of the greatest escape artists have in common? Patience, brilliance, and pulse-pounding thrill. Today, the most talented escape artists are often dubbed “Modern Houdinis.” Are you up for a challenge like no other? EscapeWorks is dedicated to creating riveting, heart-racing challenges – that must be solved in 60 minutes or less. Book a room today for an unforgettable adventure, Houdini!

The Reviews

  • Fabulous staff and had a great time with our teens. We usually do this in every major city we visit. This location was creative and we had a great time. We chose the hardest one with a pandemic, but succeeded!

    thumb Carolyn K
    December 27, 2022

    Visited from Michigan to see some couples from the Black Love and Marriage Program and we decided to check this place out! We had some much fun! The staff was very helpful and hospitable. Their facility and restrooms we clean. We enjoyed our time and we ESCAPED!

    thumb Kenitha Rabb
    December 8, 2022
  • First time doing an escape room adventure for all members of our group(4). We did Blackbeards Brig. We had such a great time. Stephanie was a great host and explained everything very well. Because it was our 1st time we were a little unsure on what to expect. The clues were great, and we were able to win our adventure with 33 seconds to spare. The facilities were well decorated and clean. The clues were somewhat hard but yet achievable. Can't wait to go back for a different adventure.

    thumb Brig Church
    September 22, 2022

    I had a great time at EscapeWorks Denver! We did the Egypt escape room, and it was wonderful! The team bonded wonderfully, and we now work stronger together in more business appropriate parameters. I had a great time dancing around in silly costumes and sifting through sand. However, I'm glad I came with a larger group. You'll definitely need a few sets of hands to escape (which we did!) though I'm sure the experience would be enjoyable regardless. I also did a prohibition themed room a few years back. I don't remember much about it except that I had loads of fun.

    thumb Rebecca H.
    August 22, 2022
  • Helen was an amazing worker! She helped us with our escape room and she was incredibly kind. Helen really made my experience completely worth it! I would come back just to talk with Helen!

    thumb Olivia Svenson
    August 17, 2022

    We had a great time with the Speakeasy room. The setup was fun and the room was detailed. There was a variety of puzzles and it was fun to try to fit things together. Helen!!!! Helen was fantastic at setting the scene and helping us through with little hints when we had the right idea but just couldn’t get something to work because we were slightly off. Thanks!!

    thumb Kaitlyn Kelly
    August 12, 2022
  • We just did the Speakeasy and it was great! The puzzles were designed well; challenging but not impossible and really fun to solve. The rooms themselves were high quality filled with all sorts of fun props and hidden secrets. Helen, our host, was fantastic! Our unseen benefactor kept the action moving and just made the whole experience way more entertaining. Had a blast!

    thumb Brian Sankowski
    August 12, 2022

    This was awesome! The escape room we did had everything—Ancient Egypt, Indiana Jones references, hieroglyphs to translate… It was challenging, but able to be solved in an hour. Our game master Tobi was really friendly & cool. And the “hints” sound was an “Easter Egg” of sorts 😉 Definitely check it out!

    thumb Doug “K'laamas” Johnson
    August 12, 2022
  • Just did the Egyptian tomb n I had a great time. They put a lot of effort into the design, and story. Helen helped us out and made the experience very fun. We almost went back to do a second escape!

    thumb Liy Taliaferro
    August 10, 2022

    We had a great experience with 5 people in the Blackbeard room. Our first time with an escape room challenge and picked the easiest one they offered and thoroughly enjoyed completing the puzzle. Felix was a fantastic host and hints were given appropriately to keep it fun but definitely not excessively. Lots and lots of fun, would highly recommend. We will be back after having such a great time. Thank you!

    thumb Morgan Phillips
    July 30, 2022
  • This was an unforgettable experience! We did the virus outbreak scenario for a teambuilding event. Everyone raved about how fun this was, it far exceeded expectations even for a bunch of engineer dorks. The game was brilliantly designed, the puzzles were very challenging but not frustrating. Each stage or unlock brought a great sense of satisfaction and motivation to move onto the next. Many of the puzzles required unconventional thinking and multiple knowledge domains to complete. Teamwork was a must. Staff was super helpful and their hints were perfectly timed to keep us on track. 10/10, would do again. Thank you!

    thumb Jeremy Smolik
    July 14, 2022

    Been to Escape Works twice now. Had an excellent experience both times. The puzzles are very clever and the rooms are fun and challenging. Particularly enjoyed the casino heist game. Stephanie was a great hostess and even spent some time with us afterwards to explain how things worked. Good fun!

    thumb Stephen Weitz
    June 26, 2022
  • Visiting my friends in Denver and we wanted something fun to do - we made the RIGHT decision here. We booked Blackbeard’s Brig and it was awesome. Well paced and not too difficult. Just the right amount of stress. Patrick was awesome he had our backs and made the experience so fun and enjoyable. He was an awesome host. Highly recommend!!!

    thumb Meredith LoRusso
    June 26, 2022

    My friends and I went to Denver for the weekend and decided to do the Casino Heist room at EscapeWorks. We had so much fun trying to figure out the clues; we didn't end up 'winning' but had a great time anyway. Rose walked us through the clues to the end of the game which was a lot of fun. Thank you Rose and Felix for a fun night. If we are ever back in the area we would definitely to this again.

    thumb Deb Gregg
    June 4, 2022
  • We had the best time at EscapeWorks Denver. My friends and I traveled to Denver for a fun weekend and decided to do the escape room experience. We chose the Casino Heist and had the best time ever!!! A huge shout-out to Rose and Felix who did a fabulous job of making it so fun for us!!! They went above and beyond. Thank you Rose and Felix for making it so memorable!!! We will be back!!! Signed..."The Fun Girls" from South Dakota

    thumb Kim Klundt
    June 4, 2022

    I love this place! I went in March with my daughter and we did Blackbeard's Brig, the easiest one, since I was new at escape rooms. We were paired up with another family of three. We had a blast and escaped! It was such a positive experience, I brought my family back for my daughters birthday. We did the Egyptian Tomb as a private party, since we had a group of five, and escaped! That room was amazing too! My family still tells everyone about how much fun they had in that escape room. The rooms are really well done. The puzzles are fun, unique, not easy but also not so hard you are frustrated the whole time. The themed rooms are spot on with the stories. Everything looks well maintained and clean. The staff is professional and kind. Next Denver trip we will be back for another escape room. Thank you for making our trips fun and memorable.

    thumb Chena Kline
    May 7, 2022
  • The Casino Heist room was a challenge but extremely fun! It’s different than other escape rooms as you’re not allowed to ask for hints; the game master gives them to you at their discretion. Tobi was an awesome game master and only gave us hints when we were completely lost. Highly recommend!

    thumb Amanda Bertelli
    April 26, 2022

    EscapeWorks in Denver is AmAzInG! The gamemasters we're great! We went first to play Blackbeard's Bring, ended up loving it soooo much that after we won, we immediately wanted to do another. We did Outbreak next which was a little more challenging but was a blast to play!!! We're going back to do the other games soon, and I recommend this place to everyone! They have weekday deals, and discounts if you do multiple on the same day!

    thumb Jazz Ramey
    April 26, 2022
  • We had a great time in the Egyptian Tomb! The puzzles and riddles were challenging and fun. Our game master Steph helped us stay on track with minimal hints. Definitely worth the money, for it was an exciting and bonding experience. It was very realistic and there was a lot of thought behind effects and puzzles. If we return to Denver again I would be happy to try out another room!

    thumb lilly M.
    April 15, 2022

    This was such a great experience. Our group of 6 did the Blackbeard's Brigg escape and it was so much fun. The riddles were tough, but solvable. The props and decoration were super fun and all on theme. Our host was Patrick, and he did an incredible job providing us enough clues to keep things going but still keep it fun. He was super nice and personable as well! Def recommend, and will def be back.

    thumb Maxwell Miller
    April 13, 2022

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