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Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts. He was also a skeptic who set out to expose frauds purporting to be supernatural phenomena.
Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz (he later spelled his birth name as Ehrich Weiss) in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, on March 24, 1874. From 1907 on, however, Houdini would claim in interviews to have been born in Appleton, Wisconsin, on April 6, 1874.
His parents were Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weiss (1829–1892) and his wife, Cecelia (née Steiner; 1841–1913). Houdini was one of seven children: Herman M. (1863–1885); Nathan J. (1870–1927); Gottfried William (1872–1925); Theodore "Theo" (1876–1945); Leopold D. (1879–1962); and Gladys Carrie (born 1882–unknown year of death).
Weiss came to the United States on July 3, 1878, sailing on the SS Fresia with his mother (who was pregnant) and his four brothers. The family changed the Hungarian spelling of their German surname into Weiss (the German spelling) and the spelling of their son's name into Ehrich. Friends called him "Ehrie" or "Harry".
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