harry houdini, then known as erik weisz (and later spelled ehrich weiss) was born on march 24, 1874, in budapest, hungry. he and his family emigrated to the united states 4 years later, and initially settled in appleton, wisconsin. in later years, for unknown reasons, houdini would claim that his birthday was april 6, 1874. he would also go on to claim that he was born in appleton, not budapest.
houdini, the easily the greatest showman of his day and age (magician, escape artist, movie star, writer, were just a sampling of his avocations), is more often remember for his death (at the age of 52) on halloween (october 31, 1926). annual seances are still held on halloween in an attempt to contact his spirit! his wife, bess, did so for the first 10 years after his death - and finally extinguished the candle, to use her terms, in 1936.
the better part of houdini's later years were spent debunking the spiritualist movement, and included a running feud with sir arthur conan doyle on whether there was an afterlife (and, if so, could we make contact with the spirits). he exposed fraudulent mediums at every opportunity - and even testified before congress on the need to protect the public from their predatory activities.
today houdini is best remembered as an escape artist and, to a lessor extent, magician. even so, he is still a household word 85 years after his death!
happy birthday harry houdini