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Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, (December 6, 1805 - 1871) French magician, born in Blois, France, where he also died. The stage name of Harry Houdini was taken in tribute to him.

Houdin was a watchmaker, and made mechanical toys and machines.

From an early age he had been interested in juggling and sleight of hand, and in 1845 he began to exhibit his skill, and soon became famous for his tricks.

The Arabs of Algeria were said to be excited to rebel against French colonialists by false miracles performed by their religious leaders. In 1856, the French government sent Houdin there, hoping that he might perform tricks that were far more impressive, thereby dissolving the excitement of the rebels. Houdin's tricks, it is said, succeeded in breaking up the influence of the priests. Moreover, the Arabs became afraid of Houdin. In one trick, he allowed an Arab to shoot at him with a marked ball, but instead of killing him, the ball was found between his teeth. After that, they believed he could do anything.

His home in Blois is now open to the public as a museum and theatre.