Harry Houdini

QUESTION:  One of Harry Houdini's brothers was a magician in his own right who went by the name of Hardeen.  What was his birth name?
A)  Theodore
B)  Leopold
C)  Gottfried
D)  Herman
ANSWER BELOW

The American Treasure Tour blog spent last week delving into the Giant World of Miniatures created by Bob Omrod during his forty year career as a middle-school teacher. We aren't quite through talking about it. In fact, today we explore a diorama Bob created honoring some great magicians, notably the most famous American magician of all time: Harry Houdini. Of course, it should be noted that Houdini was not born in this country. Like so many other great Americans, he was an immigrant. Erik Weisz was born in Budapest, Hungary to a Rabbi and his wife in 1874, one of seven siblings. Four years later, the family wound up in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he spent his formative years, only moving to New York City when his father moved there looking for work. There, Erik Weisz, now Eric Weiss, showed his athleticism and prowess as a trapeze artist, before delving into magic. He changed his name to honor Harry Kellar and Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, the newly-dubbed Harry Houdini started out performing card tricks in circus side shows to little fanfare. Things began to change in 1899, when he was encouraged to focus on escape acts.  1900 was a big year for Houdini, "The Handcuff King," as he traveled Europe to much fanfare.

Houdini became an international star, and kept upping the ante on his escapes, going from handcuffs to being enclosed in brewer's barrels to his most famous escape, from the Chinese Water Torture Cell.  In this escape, he is hung upside down in a locked steel-and-glass cabinet filled to the brim with water.  If he does not get himself out in three minutes, he will drown. He used this dangerous and exciting act to the end of his career, which tragically ended in his fifty-second year. The official cause of death was peritonitis, although it was likely exacerbated by an unexpected punch to the abdomen. Houdini has become the most famous magician in history.  And we are happy to honor him in Omrod's Giant World of Miniatures.  

ANSWER:  A)  Theodore. Please do not feel too bad if you didn't know the answer to this question. Few people even know Harry's birth name!