The editor of Funk and Wagnalls dictionary when Houdini's name was added was Frank H. Vizetelly.
This is what he wrote about Houdini when he died:
The Late Harry Houdini
To the editor of the New York Times:
Harry Houdini does not need any panegyric from me, but as one who has enjoyed his friendship for more than 15 years, may I be permitted to echo the sentiments expressed about him in the Times editorial on Monday last?
Further, let me add, please, that to me he was one of the most lovable men I have known, and the first thoughts that sprang to my mind when I read of his death were the words of that in mortal poem of Leigh Hunt's, "Abou-ben-Adhem"--
"I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men," for if ever there was a man who loved his fellow it was Harry Houdini. Great-hearted and distinguished by the sweetness of his disposition, he was generous to a fault; gave of himself freely to every worthy cause; hated all false pretense and deceit. Here was a man who went about doing good, interesting himself in everything that was noble and kind, and ready to help where ever there was need. By his passing the world lost a great and good man, and I a loyal and staunch friend. God has placed another star in his heaven.
Frank H. Vizetelly
New York, November 1, 1926
Clearly, Mr. Vizetelly was a fan. And, on Nov 1, 1926, a bereaved friend.
However, Houdini's name Had to added to the dictionary and the proof is that it is in such common use today. I can't think of a name that is so often used as a metaphor.