Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How much do you know about Houdini ??

Houdini (born Erich Weiss) took his stage name in honor of French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, but later wrote the book The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, an expose of the magician's methods.

Houdini was a movie producer and actor, a magician, an escape artist and an exposer of fraudulent mediums. He was also one of the first people to pilot an airplane in Australia.

Houdini became the most famous escape artist of all time, but he was not double-jointed, as is sometimes reported.

Houdini's house in NYC is still standing, and still sports the custom inlaid floor tiles with Houdini's HH initials. Houdini did not die while performing the Water Torture Cell illusion, but died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix (the same condition that killed Rudolph Valentino).

Houdini died in Grace Hospital in Detroit on Halloween, and is buried in his family's plot in New York.

Houdini is the invited guest at seances held every Halloween, the anniversary of his death.

Harry Houdini's brother, Hardeen, was a Leap Year Centennial baby- he was born on February 29, 1876.

Houdini is still today one of the ten most recognized celebrity names in the world.

UPDATE ON HOUDINI'S DEATH - MARCH 23, 2007 (NEW YORK) — Legendary escape artist Harry Houdini mystified audiences with his daring stunts, but his death on Halloween 1926 was even more mysterious.

Houdini, buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, had been struck in the abdomen before he died, leading some to suspect foul play.

Today, relatives of both Houdini — born Erich Weiss — and one of the magician's archenemies are planning to call for the exhumation of Houdini's remains for clues to his death.

A coauthor of a recent book about Houdini, Larry Sloman, told Newsday that one possible scenario was that Houdini was poisoned by someone in a movement in which mediums purported to contact the dead in seances. Toward the end of his life, Houdini had dedicated himself to exposing spiritualist mediums as frauds.

If that were true, Sloman said, "the poison would remain in the system" of Houdini's body — even 80 years after his death.

Sloman, who with William Kalush wrote "The Secret Life of Houdini," said that when Houdini died at age 52, officials attributed the cause to "traumatic appendicitis" brought on by a blow to his stomach. Doctors now know it is impossible for a blow to the stomach to cause appendicitis, he said.

Speculation about Houdini's death has been fueled by questions about an "experimental serum" given to Houdini in the hospital, the lack of an autopsy and indications that his wife, who died later, may have been poisoned at the same time, Sloman said.

George Hardeen, whose grandfather was Houdini's brother, said: "It needs to be looked at. His death shocked the entire nation, if not the world. Now, maybe it's time to take a second look."

Anna Thurlow of Hampton Bays, N.Y., a great-granddaughter of Houdini's nemesis, a medium known as Margery, agreed.

"We need to use science to understand the world around us and to correct history," she told Newsday. "History might have had something wrong."

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