Franz Kukol

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Franz Kukol

Courtesy of Kukol's grandson, Rolf R. Safferthal[1]
BornMarch 04, 1876
Prerau (what is currently the Czech Republic).

NationalityGerman

Franz Kukol (March 4, 1876 - ?) born in Austria, a officer of the Austrian army, was a chief assistant to Houdini for many years.

Biography

Kukol started working with Houdini (whom always spells his name "Frantz") on March 2, 1903. He wore a very prominent "Wilhelm II" mustache and could speak several languages. He handled his tasks with the precision of an ex-army officer. When he joined Houdini, he signed the document which swore him to eternal secrecy as to Houdini's methods.

According to Bart Whaley's "Who's Who in Magic", Kukol assisted Houdini with the creating the Milk Can Escape.

Kukol married a girl named Anna (b. 15 October 15, 1878) on October 29, 1908 and they had baby girl named Marie (b. 1 May 1901). Their son, Harry Houdini Kukol, was born on May 24, 1909 in Austria.

He applied for US citizenship on August 25, 1914 but was denied. On his application for naturalization, he lists his occupation as organist (which he was).

Houdini reported that Kukol had returned to Germany in September of 1914 in The Conjuring Record (Sept. 1914) which carried the following:

OBEYS CALL TO WAR; HOUDINI LOSES ASSISTANT
New York, September 3 - Mr. Franz Kukol, one of Harry Houdini's chief assistants, was called by his country, Germany, to the front. He left at once to fight for the cause of the Fatherland. Kukol assisted Houdini in his escape from the water cell and other experiments.

In 1916, Houdini joked about the conflicts between his German and British assistants. The U.S. declared war April 6, 1917 and on Sept 12, 1918, both Harry Houdini and Frank Kukol registered for the draft at the same New York office. Later on his WW1 draft registration he lists his occupation as "asst. mgr. Majestic Theatre."

There is some evidence that Kukol continued to work with Houdini, in the U.S. at least until America entered the War. A letter Houdini wrote to R.W.G. Vail on 9-4-1924, states that Franz will personally come to The Roosevelt Memorial Assoc. in N.Y.C. to swear he took a photograph of Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Houdini.

Houdini made provisions Kukol of $500 in his will.

Frank Williamson and Franz Kukol

A "Frank Williamson" worked on Houdini's full-evening show in 1926. A photograph of a Frank Williamson working the full-evening show looks exactly like Kukol (without the mustache).

If Franz Kukol was in New York when Houdini died in 1926, he would most likely have to have been a pallbearer after being an assistant for so many years. He wasn't, but a Frank Williamson was. After the funeral, Frank Williamson disappears from the historical record. Could this Frank Williamson have been Kukol?[2][3]

References

  1. http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=30358&Number=275743#Post275743
  2. http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=209739#Post209739
  3. Culliton tackles the mystery of Franz Kukol
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