Houdini observed at a circus that when an elephant laid down, it went very flat, even though upright it was a big fat beast.
He built a cabinet with a small baffle at the bottom, which was enough to conceal the laid down and flattened elephant. Thus, Houdini vanished an elephant at the Hippodrome in NYC.
His assistant said, "you'll only fool the kids." Houdini said, "but i'll get the headlines in the newspapers."