Theodore Hardeen (Ferenc Dezső Weisz)

Theodore Hardeen

Theodore Hardeen was born as Ferenc Dezső Weisz (also spelled Ferencz Dezso Weisz) in Budapest, Hungary, and went by the name of Theodore Weiss when the family was living in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was known as “Deshi” and later “Dash” by his parents. In 1893, Hardeen performed with Houdini at Coney Island as “The Brothers Houdini”. While there, Harry met and married Wilhelmina Beatrice “Bess” Rahner. After his brother’s death in 1926 Hardeen played the vaudeville circuit, doing many of Houdini’s routines. From 1938 to 1941, Hardeen was featured in Olsen and Johnson’s Broadway revue, Hellzapoppin, and during World War II he performed for the troops (as his brother had done during World War I). In 1936 Hardeen starred in a Vitaphone short film for Warner Bros. called Medium Well Done. In it, Hardeen played a “hardboiled detective” on the case of a bogus medium. The film was directed by Lloyd French, who directed many of the early Laurel and Hardy shorts. Like his brother, Hardeen was skeptical of the claims of spiritualist mediums. With his friend Julien Proskauer he exposed the fraudulent methods of mediums. Houdini in his will, requested for all his files to be given to Hardeen and destroyed (“I give, devise and bequeath to my brother, Theodore, Professionally known as “Hardeen” all my theatrical effects, new mysteries and illusions and accompanying paraphernalia, to be burnt and destroyed upon his death.” On August 15, 1927 Hardeen’s Brooklyn home had been broken into and some of Houdini’s apparatus had been damaged. Later that year, Hardeen burned all of Houdini’s personal files in a furnace in his basement. Planning on writing a book about his brother, in 1945 Theodore Hardeen went to New York’s Doctors Hospital for a simple operation. He unexpectedly died of complications while recovering from the procedure. He was 69 years old.


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  • March, 04, 1876
  • Budapest, Hungary


  • June, 12, 1945
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • complications from surgery


  • Machpelah Cemetery
  • Ridgewood, New York
  • USA

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