Houdini, Harry

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Houdini, Harry Gender: M
Erik Weisz
born on 24 March 1874 at 04:00 (= 04:00 AM )
Place Budapest, Hungary, 47n30, 19e05
Timezone LMT m19e05 (is local mean time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 03°19' s_mo.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 23°13 Asc.s_aqucol.18.gif 07°47'

Harry Houdini


Hungarian-American magician who was known as the world's greatest escape artist, performing sensational and dangerous feats for audiences that included heads of state. In 1903 he performed for Alexandra, Empress of all the Russia's. She believed, as did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, that Houdini did not use just slight of hand, but indeed performed magical feats and had psychic powers. At his peak he earned thousands of dollars a week in America and Europe.

Born Ehrich Weiss, the middle son of five boys, the family moved to America to escape rabid and highly dangerous anti-Semitism in Hungary, first to Appleton, Wisconsin and later to Milwaukee before settling in New York City. His father, Samuel, was a self-styled rabbi and his mother, Cecilia Steiner Weiss, was probably the one real love of his life. When Houdini was 12 his father, on his deathbed, made him promise to care for his mother for as long as she lived, which he did devotedly. His younger brother Theodore was also a magician.

As a young man, he joined the circus as a trapeze artist and took up magic. In 1891 he did his first professional performance. Beginning in medicine shows and vaudeville, he astounded people with escapes from handcuffs and graduated to more and more difficult escapes through the years.

Houdini, short and stocky, was a mysteriously cheerful prankster with boundless energy, a seemingly unbreakable will and all the characteristics of an artist; obsession, perfectionism, highly developed self-consciousness, patience, attention to detail and a longing for immortality. Known for his preoccupation with death, Houdini came close to dying many times in his escapes. Thoughts of death filled his consciousness so entirely that his life was tolerable only if he could assure himself, time after time, that he could defeat it. Harry starred in several silent action films, some of which he also produced.

The only other woman in his life beside his mother was his wife Bess. They met when he performed at a children's party in Brooklyn; he was 20 and she, 16. Being infatuated with Harry, Bess approached him after his performance and said she liked him. He responded "Enough to marry me?" After talking it over and with no further ado, indeed they did marry, on 22 June 1894. She became his magician's assistant and they did appearances together at theaters and dime museums. Theirs was an extremely odd marriage and Houdini's biographer speculates that it was unconsummated as Bess was put on a pedestal and remained there until Harry's death 32 years later. They were very devoted to one another and Harry genuinely seemed to have loved his wife.

When doing his famous "Water Torture Cell" act in Albany, NY on 10 October 1926, Houdini broke a bone in his ankle. He continued to Schenectady, NY and Montreal performing in spite of the break. Reclining on a sofa in his dressing room with his ankle elevated on Friday 22 october 1926 at 11:00 AM, a student from McGill University named Joselyn Gordon Whitehead, an amateur boxer, asked Houdini if it were true that he could take a blow to his stomach with no affect. Before Houdini could prepare himself, Whitehead struck him with one or possibly three violent blows to his left side abdomen before being restrained, rupturing Houdini's appendix. By the next night he was weak and feverish during his performance. In agony, he took the train to Detroit, the next stop on his schedule. He was medically examined on arrival, but insisted on making his usual appearance on stage the following Monday evening. Collapsing during his act he was taken to the hospital with streptococcal peritonitis. Although he put up a good fight, this was fatal as there were no sulfa drugs yet available. Bess, suffering from food poisoning, was in the next room, and Harry confided a secret message to her whereby she would recognize as genuine any message sent by him from "beyond the veil."

Houdini died at 1:26 PM, 31 October 1926. At 10:30 PM the same night a bronze casket he had used for his "Buried Alive" stunt carried him as he was taken to New York by train. Many people visited the Hippodrome Theater where he lay in state. Services presided over by a rabbi were held at the Elks Club and he was buried on Long Island at Machpelah Cemetery, Cypress Hills, Queens. The family plot was designed by Houdini with a bust which is probably the only graven image in any Jewish cemetery in the United States. The bust was smashed in April 1975 by unknown persons and later replaced. Although Harry spent many years debunking spiritualists that claimed they could contact the dead, Bess participated in a number of séances, trying to contact him after his death.

A movie about Houdini's life made in 1953 starred Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. His biography, "The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini" written by Ruth Brandon was published in 1994.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Grün, John (born 27 August 1868). Notes: Co-performers
  • role played of/by Brody, Adrien (born 14 April 1973). Notes: Brody played Houdini in 2014 TV miniseries "Houdini"
  • role played of/by Curtis, Tony (born 3 June 1925). Notes: Curtis played Houdini in 1953 film "Houdini"
  • role played of/by Glaser, Paul Michael (born 25 March 1943). Notes: Glaser played Houdini in 1976 film "The Great Houdini"
  • role played of/by Hirsch, Emile (born 13 March 1985). Notes: Hirsch played Young Houdini in 1998 TV movie "Houdini"
  • role played of/by Keitel, Harvey (born 13 May 1939). Notes: Keitel played Houdini in 1997 film "FairyTale: A True Story"
  • role played of/by Mailer, Norman (born 31 January 1923). Notes: Mailer played Houdini in 1999 film "Cremaster 2"
  • role played of/by Pearce, Guy (born 5 October 1967). Notes: Pearce played Houdini in 2007 film "Death Defying Acts"


  • Health : Medical procedure 12 April 1874 (Circumcized)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : New Career 1891 (First professional magic performance)
  • Work : Gain social status 1903 (Performed for Russian royalty)
  • Health : Job related injury 10 October 1926 at 11:00 AM in Albany, NY (Broke ankle during performance)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Crime : Assault/ Battery Victimization 22 October 1926 at 11:00 AM in Montreal, Canada (Gutpunched by boxer, ruptured appendix)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Disease 31 October 1926 at 1:26 PM in Detroit, Michigan (Peritonitus, age 52)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Jeane Wolfe Hitt quotes "Houdini, a Magician Among the Spirits," p.277 for the date, given in Mercury Hour, 4/1979. Church of Light quotes Dan F. Hill, "A book on magicians gave 3/24/1874 OS, Budapest, by official certificate." (OS/NS)

Bill Schaffer sent a copy in 7/1995 of a page from "Houdini, The Untold Story," Milbourne & Christopher, 1969, that reads, "The birth is recorded in precise detail in the 1872-74 volume of the Pesti Izraelita Hitkozseg register. In the original Hungarian spellings, Eric Weisz, the legitimate male child of Samuel and Caecilia (Steiner) was born in the house of his parents at Rakos Arokgasse No. 1, on 3/24/1874. The attending midwife was Anna Flesichmann; the godmother was Miksa Dick. Seven days later I.L. Schill performed the circumcision."

(In Modern Astrology, 10/1904, Alan Leo wrote, "He sent us his time of birth of 4:00 AM." However Leo gave the date of 4/06/1873, Appleton, WI. AFA, 12/1955, had 1873, 4:00 AM. Sabian Symbols No.480 gave Appleton, 2:24 AM)

(Bill Breeze has Mar 24, 1874, 3:29 AM)

Until April 2015, ADB had 5 April as date of birth. But this is most likely wrong, there was no Julian Calendar in Budapest in 1874. The calendar is Gregorian since 1587. The OS note above in the first line is invalid.

In October 2015, S.C. provided a copy of the birth record (no time of birth recorded) from a "photograph [which] was taken on November 9, 1932, at the Registrar's office at the Pest Jewish Community and was first published in the German magazine Die Magie (December 1932)" [1]. "Primary credit for birth certificate (as stated in above link) is to Hungarian magic website" [2]. Translation: No.: 392 published. Name of the newborn: Erik. Date of birth: 24th of March [1874]. Father's name and profession: Samu Weisz (legal adviser). Mother's name: Cecilia born Steiner. Address of the parents: Rákosárok street 1. Midwife's name: Anna Fleischmann. Date and executor of the circumcision ceremony: 31th of March Schill. j. c. (Jewish chaplain). Godfather: Miksa Dick

Sy Scholfield submitted death certificate stating date of birth as 6 April 1874 and time of death as 1:30pm.


  • Traits : Personality : Perfectionist
  • Traits : Personality : Persistent (Patient, unbreakable will)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Other Major diseases (Peritonitus, fatal)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Third of five boys)
  • Family : Childhood : Parent, Single or Step (Age 12 when dad died)
  • Family : Childhood : Sibling circumstances (Younger brother also a magician)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (32 years)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage - Very happy (Very devoted to one another)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Hazardous work (Came close to dying many times)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Job-Related Injury (Broke ankle during act)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Work alone/ Singular role
  • Lifestyle : Work : Work in team/ Tandem (Circus, trapeze artist)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Financial success in field (Thousands of dollars a week)
  • Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate (Moved to U.S.)
  • Passions : Criminal Victim : Assault/ Battery victim (Gutpunched by boxer, fatal)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Actor/ Actress (Silent action films)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Circus/ Animal acts (Trapeze artist)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Magic (International magic performances)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Business : Entertain Producer
  • Notable : Famous : Historic figure (Famed magician)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession (World's greatest escape artist)
  • Notable : Book Collection : American Book