Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hardeen's Leap Day birthday

Like his famous brother, Theo Hardeen was born in Budapest, Hungary. But also like his brother, Hardeen claimed Appleton as his birthplace and selected a new birthday to go with it.

While Houdini chose April 6 (the day his mother always wrote to him), Hardeen appears to have had a sense of humor about it and selected February 29, Leap Day, as his adopted birthday.

Houdini biographies for children often say something to the effect that "poor Theo could only celebrate his birthday once every four years." Always overshadowed by Harry! But I think what it really tells us is that Dash didn't take himself nearly as seriously as his brother.

So even though we now know he was born on March 4, 1876, lets celebrate Hardeen's adopted birthday TODAY as we only get this opportunity once every four years.

Happy Leap Day Birthday, Dash!



  1. I never thought of Hardeen as the poor kid brother overshadowed by his older sibling. HH was his mealticket, and Dash understood this. HH broke him into the big time with handcuff act.

    After HH died, he advertised himself as: Brother of Houdini. Still riding the HH coattails, his bread and butter. Without HH, I doubt we would be discussing Hardeen today.

  2. Disagree. Hardeen was his own person, a good magician with a strong work-ethic like his brother.

    The only reason why we are talking about Houdini is due to Hardeen ignoring his brother’s request to destroy all his magic. The credit also goes to Bessie and Edward Saint for their great efforts in keeping the name alive!

    1. Yes--Hardeen was a good magician, but if Harry had not existed, I don't think we'd be talking about him. It was his brother who shared his act with him and set him up as his rival in Europe. Otherwise Hardeen would have still been in NYC at the turn of the 20th century heading to...

  3. And Houdini set Hardeen up to help who, just Hardeen or his own Career.............

  4. Both. It was a mutually beneficial set up. In fact, I just finished reading the chapter The Handcuff Act in Walter Gibson's Houdini's Fabulous Magic. Hardeen mopped up the European engagements Houdini couldn't cover. Obviously Dash was competent and did his job well as the faux rival.

    But he was no trailblazer. If you read Jack's blog on Hardeen, you'll see a San Diego newspaper clipping of Hardeen doing the challenge handcuff escape around 1915. Hardly a technical advancement at that point in his career. Then he dropped the magic to help out with the FDC and didn't return to the stage until after Houdini died. It was more of a job than a passion for him.

  5. That's interesting that Theo picked February 29th as his birthday. It just happens to be my birthday as well! It was always a little weird celebrating my "real" birthday every four years, but I got used to it. I usually celebrate on the 28th.