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Great Leonard

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Great Leonard

Conjurers' Monthly Magazine
BornWilliam Leonard Hicks
November 6, 1887
Owenton, Kentucky
DiedApril 2, 1966 (age 78)

Great Leonard (1887-1966), aka Harry Hicks and Leonard Hicks, was a protege of Houdini in the early 1900s.[1] He was said to be the only man outside the family who knew the famed escape artist's complete repertoire.[2]


He started as a desk clerk at the old Saratoga Hotel and in 1904 he went to work at the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. One afternoon in 1906 he caught Harry Houdini's act at the Majestic Theatre (later called the Schubert). The young Hicks suggested a few ideas to Houdini, who was so impressed he coaxed the him to go on tour with him under the name of "The Great Leonard". He toured with Houdini for three years. Hicks presented an act composed of an escape from half a dozen cuffs and the Substitution Trunk.[3]

His father, a well-to-do Virginia dairy owner, thought it best for him to get back into the hotel business. He would spend 62 years in the hotel business. Hicks worked as manager of the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, became president of the American Hotel and Motel Association, and the Hotel Greeters of America.

He joined the SAM in 1907 and was the Chicago correspondent for Houdini's Conjurers' Monthly magazine.

In 1949 Hicks moved to Florida to retire, but ended up working at the Pick Hotels Corporation. He was Vice President of the Pick Hotels Corporation and Managing Director of the Pick-Congress until his death.[4]


  1. Houdini - The Key by Patrick Culliton (2010)
  2. Obit in Linking Ring, May 1966
  4. Obit from New Tops, May 1966
  • Conjurers' Monthly Magazine (Sept. 1907) pg 17