Theo Hardeen Chronology

  • 1876 – Theodore “Dash” Hardeen (born Ferenc Dezső Weisz) March 4th 1876 Budapest, Hungary. He claimed to be born 1876 Feb 29 in Appleton Wisconsin
  • ? – Studied at Brown School with Harry
  • ? – Milwaukee sold papers at the Plankinton House corner and shined shoes
  • ? – Elder brother died. Harry had saved $10 paid for funeral. Harry learns acrobatics. Makes Theo become a contortionist. Trekked to N.Y.
  • 1877- 1887 -?
  • 1888 – During first winter experienced the Great Blizzard of 1888
  • Date unknown – Employer taught him a coin vanish he learned. Theo taught Harry.
  • ? – Opened a bill at the Krauss Imperial Music Hall appearing with Weber and Fields, Topack and Steel, Lizzie B. Raymond, and Joe Flynn who wrote “Down West McGinty”.
  • ? – Coney Island. Fired from Vacca’s on the Bowery and Buschman’s walk. “Customers too interested in us to by Beer” said Hardeen.
  • ? – With the Christi Brothers for a whole season in a big shadow pantomime at Coney’s Sea Beach Palace…”What a beautiful dump!”
  • 1889 – ?
  • 1890 – ?
  • 1891 – Took over for Jacob Hyman in the Brothers Houdini act
  • 1891 – Saved $26 in Citizen Savings Bank at Bowery & Canal while working for James G. Johnson & Co. Gave the money to Harry for partnership in act called “The Houdini Brothers”. Played museums all over the country. Kohl and Middleton in Chicago, Moors in Detroit and Rochester, and Bradenberg’s in Philadelphia. New York at Worth’s on 6th Avenue, the Globe on Bowery, Hubers, and the Gayety for Dave Poaner.
  • Date unknown – Gets stuck in the Metamorphosis Box when he forgot the Gimmick. Harry goes in the box first from then on.
  • 1892 – Hardeen began his magical career (Genii Magazine Aug 1942)
  • 1893 – ?
  • 1894 June – Dated Bess Rahner 2 weeks later Harry and Bess marry on June 22nd.
  • ? – Lived in a flat on East 69th Street
  • 1894 – Bess replaced Theo in the act. Theo went on the road billed as “Professor Houdini” with a female assistant. Performed the Barrel escape.
  • ? – Harry and Bess join Welsh brothers. Theo joins Farmer Dan’s place on the Island. Featuring a Dancing Duck and the Human Faced Chicken.
  • 1895 – ?
  • 1896 – ?
  • 1897 – ?
  • 1898 – 1899 – Retired from the act for 2 years
  • 1900 November – Theo received a cable from Harry “COME OVER THE APPLES ARE RIPE”. Theo came out of 2 year retirement. Took a ship named the “Deutschland” to Germany to meet Harry. Harry and Theo came up with the name “Hardeen” from the word “Harden” or “Hard” for the strength it takes to do the sensational exploits. by adding an “e” or “een” to make euphonious.
  • 1900 – 1907 – Hardeen Played in Europe for 7 years. While Houdini was in the states Hardeen played in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He went on to play France, Belgium, Russia, Sweden, Norway and other countries.
  • 1900 – Sub-billed “Houdini 2nd” opened at Olympia Theatre, Magdeburg.
  • 1901 June – Performed at the Empire Theater in So. Shield England
  • 1902 – Europe
  • 1903 – Europe
  • 1904 April – Newport England
  • 1905 – At Swansea Empire Theater in Wales England. First full view Straitjacket Escape
  • 1905 September 11 – Houdini and Hardeen attend Hyde and Behman’s theater to challenge a Houdini copy cat named “Cunning”. Hardeen was arrested. Houdini bails him out. Cunning was from Utah.
  • 1906 September 15 – First publishing of Conjurors Magazine. Hardeen in London writes a column.
  • 1907 – Shrewsbury Gala England. Hardeen performs in front of 80,000 people.
  • 1907 August – Hardeen returned to the US to join the new Vaudeville circuit “Klaw and Erlanger” who left Keiths Vaudeville. Houdini was Keiths headliner and advised Klaw and Erlanger to book Hardeen. Tours as the featured act coast to coast.
  • 1907 September – Hardeen does first Bridge Jump at the 18th street bridge in Louisville Kentucky
  • 1908 – Bridge Jump Elizabeth River Norfolk VA – Nearly dies
  • 1912 December 17 – Hardeen broke his wrist cranking his car engine, he is laid up for a couple weeks
  • ? Pantages booked Hardeen, the Orpheum booked Houdini. Newspapers portray the brothers as rivals in west coast towns. Pantages presented Hardeen a gold medal.
  • ? – Booking Agent William Morris books Hardeen in opposition to Keith’s. Opens at Schultz Opera House, Zanesville O. at a house owned by a butcher.
  • ? – Wilmer & Vincent booked into Colonial Theatre, Norfolk Va. Publicity man W.T. Kirby started stunt of having Hardeen jump into a river handcuffed. Oyster dock collapses spilling hundreds of spectators into the river.
  • ? Douglas Fairbanks on a bill with Hardeen at Atlantic City’s Garden Pier Theatre. Fairbanks objected to Hardeen’s feature billing but after seeing bridge jump into the Atlantic said “You can have the billing…”
  • 1913 February 14 – Hardeen at the Chicago Palace Theatre
  • 1913 July 3rd** – Hardeen accompanied Houdini, Mother Cecelia, and Brother Nat to the Weiss plot in Machpelah Cemetery.
  • 1913 July 14th – Asbury Park Lyric Theater. Handcuffs, Straitjacket, Water Can. Lept from Pier.
  • 1913 July 17 – Imperial Hotel Cecelia Weiss (Mother) was stricken with paralysis and had a Stroke. Died at 12:15 AM.
  • 1914 July 15 – Hardeen accompanied Houdini for Harry’s overboard box escape at Battery Park.
  • 1915 November 21 – Hardeen performs at the Pantages Theater in Oakland, California as Houdini’s rival.
  • 1917 January 22-26 Hardeen at Pantages Shipping Crew to Box Up Hardeen! Building still stands today!
  • 1917 January 27 – Hardeen “The Handcuff King” at Savoy Theatre San Diego
  • 1917 – Retired from the Stage. Returned to NY to take charge of Houdini’s film laboratories
  • 1926 June 4 – Along with Houdini and other notable magicians like Thurston, Hardeen attended the 22nd annual Society of American Magicians dinner at the Hotel McAlpin in NYC.
  • 1926 October 31 – Houdini dies, wills his secrets to Hardeen. Hardeen returns to the stage and tours as Houdini’s successor.
  • 1927 August 15, Hardeen’s Brooklyn home broken into and some of Houdini’s apparatus damaged. Later that year, Hardeen burned all of Houdini’s personal files in a furnace in his basement.
  • 1929 – 1930 – President of the Society of American Magicians
  • 1933 June 30 – Hardeen opens his “Temple of Mystery” on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. He performs a full show of escapes, magic and illusions. Jim Collins was Hardeen’s chief assistant. Bess Houdini was there on opening day. 67,000 people attended one show.
  • 1933 – 1935 – Hardeen does underwater packing box escape to publicize the Temple of Mystery show.
  • ? – Max Speigal’s “Winning Widows” engagement
  • ? Joe Fields, George B. Scanlon and Florence Mills for the Gayety Theatre Brooklyn
  • ? Brewery company challenged to escape from a vat of ale. The chorus drank the ale so there was never a 2nd act.
  • 1936 – Starred in a Vitaphone short film called Medium Well Done
  • 1936 – 1944 continued to perform
  • 1938 – 1941 Performed in Olsen and Johnson’s Broadway revue, Hellzapoppin
  • 1939 July 3rd – Appeared on WNYC Radio was interviewed by Ezra McIntosh for his “The Voice of Theater” program.
  • 1945 – Resumed Conjurors Magazine. Julien J. Proskauer.
  • 1945, June 12 – Died age 69

** Date unconfirmed ? Event sourced but date unknown

Sources: Hardeen by William V. Rauscher, Conjurors Magazine Hardeen Memorial issue Vol 1. No 6., The Life and History of Hardeen, Houdini!!! by Kenneth Silverman, Houdini by Milbourne Christopher, Conjurors’ Monthly Magazine, Wild About Harry Blog by John Cox, Potter & Potter Auction Photos, The Player Newspaper

Contributors: Leo Hevia

I’m sure there are many mistakes in this timeline. I will continue to add and correct as I discover more but it’s a start. Please email me with anything you know about Hardeen’s history. Thanks!