Virtual Tour
Abravanel, Don Isaac
Berg, Gertude (Molly Goldberg)
Berg, Moe
Berle, Milton
Berlin, Irving
Bernstein, Leonard
Brandeis, Louis D.
Cardozo, Benjamin
Einstein, Albert
Elion, Gertrude
Gershwin, George
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader
Gompers, Samuel
Goode, Alexander
Goodman, Benny
Gratz, Rebecca
Greenberg, Hank
Hillman, Sidney
Hoffman, Jeffrey
Houdini, Harry
Jefferson, Thomas
Karpeles, Leopold
Lamarr, Hedy
Lazarus, Emma
Lehman, Herbert H.
Levy, Asser
Levy, Uriah P.
Magnes, Judah L.
Meir, Golda
Miller, Arthur
Myerson, Bess
Noah, Mordecai.
Ochs, Adolph
Pulitzer, Joseph
Resnik, Judith
Rose, Ernestine
Rosenthal, Robert
Ross, Barney

Salk, Jonas
Salomon, Haym
Santangel, Luis de
Sarnoff, David
Schick, Bela
Seixas, Gershom M.
Singer, Isaac B.
Stern, Isaac
Straus, Isidor & Ida
Strauss, Levi
Streisand, Barbra
Szold, Henrietta
Torres, Dara
Torres, Luis de
Touro, Judah
Wacks, Mel

Wald, Lillian
Washington, George
Wiesel, Elie
Wise, Isaac Mayer
Zacuto, Abraham

Medal by Hal Reed & Mel Wacks (1996), Houdini, Magician & escape artist.

Houdini (1874-1926)

Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. His family emigrated to the United States while he was an infant, and his father became the first rabbi in Appleton, Wisconsin. They later moved to Milwaukee, and eventually settled in New York. Young Ehrich's life was transformed after he learned his first trick (the vanishing quarter). At the age of 17, he changed his name to Harry Houdini and began performing in medicine shows, circuses, theaters, etc.

Medal by Hal Reed & Mel Wacks (1996), Houdini, Magician & escape artist.

When 100,000 people watched "The King of Handcuffs" wriggle free while hanging from a building in 1916, a newspaper reported that this was "the biggest crowd ever assembled in Washington at one place except for the inauguration of the President." One of Houdini's most spectacular illusions was the "Vanishing Elephant," in which the pachyderm lumbered on to the stage and walked straight into a large cabinet. Almost simultaneously the cabinet's walls would be pulled back and the elephant had disappeared. Houdini said "Even the elephant does not know how it is done."

Four years after the Wright Brothers flew the first practical airplane, Houdini bought a French plane and made his first flight. And just 5 months later, on March 16, 1910, he became the first person to make a successful flight in Australia!

Houdini was also a motion picture star, making his first appearance in 1918 in a serial "The Mastery Mystery." Soon he set up the Houdini Picture Corporation where he wrote and starred in "The Man from Beyond" and "Haldane of the Secret Service." On October 31, 1975 Houdini's pioneering accomplishments earned him a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Houdini was lounging in his dressing room at the Princess Theater in Montreal on October 22, 1926 when a student from McGill University asked if it was true that Houdini could sustain punches to his midsection without injury. The visitor struck him immediately, not realizing that Houdini had to brace himself. Even though Houdini had stomach pain, he boarded the train for his next appearance in Detroit. Collapsing after the final curtain, Houdini was taken to the hospital where his ruptured appendix was removed. But it was too late, and he passed away on October 31 -- Halloween. At his funeral, Rabbi Bernard Drachman called Houdini "one of the truly great men of the age."

Click Here to Take Houdini Quiz

Go to page: First Page Previous Page Next Page


QuizzesnominationNewsShopAbout JAHF
© 2000-2020 Jewish-American Hall of Fame © 2012-2020 American Numismatic Society All Rights Reserved