houdini's ghost wrote:Okito wrote about hearing Houdini and his mother converse in Magyar.
That's neat. Do you recall where he wrote that?
In fact, what's the best source for learning more about the Okito dynasty?
It's true that Houdini's eyes are recorded as "brown" on that first, 28 May 1900, passport application and that is difficult to explain. ... But, rejecting the veracity of rest of the application over an obvious mistake would be a mistake.
What if it wasn't a mistake--what if it was a misstatement? A deliberate misstatement? Why?
Exactly. The definite error on the application calls into question but does not disprove
the other claims on the application. That's why it's weak evidence for any of those claims.
The fact that most of the handwriting on the app is not Houdini's takes us some distance in understanding why mistakes are evident (although the 1873 birth year remains odd). But the presence of those errors weakens the whole.
I wonder if Houdini might have had hazel eyes?
There are a few photos of him in which his eyes appear so pale that the gray/blue range seems clear. Hazel seems unlikely given the data points.
In 1914, a tinted photo of Houdini was published in the New York World and his eyes are blue. I've never seen a photo where his eyes look brown.
And what about the birthyear? Could Houdini actually have thought he was born in 1873? He gives 1873 as his birthdate in a few places--the autobiographical article in Goldston's 1909-1910 Magician Annual (as I recall). The Right Way To Do Wrong says 1873.
And after his mother's death, he acknowledges in that letter to Hardeen, that Teller has now, that he will celebrate his birthday April 6 because "Mother always wrote to me on that date." So his mother thought April 6 was his birthday (March 24 was Nissan 6 on the Hebrew calendar in 1874).
The fact that she chose to write to him always on that date does not establish that she "thought April 6 was his birthday".
I'm not sure there's much weight in the fact that 6Nisan coincided with 24 March in that year. After all, there's no strong reason to confuse Nisan with April.
The Julian/Gregorian gap was 12 days in 1874, so 24 March/Julian was 05 April/Gregorian. That puts us within a day. Unhappily for that theory, Hungary was an early adopter of the Gregorian calendar (1587), so there's presently no reason to think the Julian calendar was a factor.
He does say he was born in Hungary on that first application. Three months later, on 9 August 1900, he swaps that passport for a new one--the reason? "For protection."
Is that a quote from correspondence?
I shouldn't have called that first one the only honest passport application he ever made out--I should have stayed on safe ground and said it was the most honest application.
I point it out only in the spirit of research. Your tome is rich and fascinating!
His occupation is given variously as Actor, Performer, Artiste and Juggler.
Apart from his card spread flourishes, do we have any other indications of Houdini's juggling? I don't recall having read about that (though of course it would fit right in), and wonder whether/when he ever used it.