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Jacob Hyman

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Jacob Hyman
BornJuly 31, 1871
Philadelphia, New York
DiedSeptember 9, 1942 (age 71)
Hollywood, California
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park[1]

Jacob Hyman (1871-1942), as "J. H. Houdini", was the first to work with Houdini as the "Houdini Brothers" team.


Hyman become the first partner in the original Houdini Brothers act in 1891. Later partners working with Houdini as the "Houdini Brothers" included Jacob's brother Joe (while Jacob was in the Army) and Houdini's actual brother Dash (who later became famous as Hardeen). In June of 1894, Harry met Bess Rahner, married her, and the Houdini Brothers got replaced in favor of 'The Houdinis'.

Hyman is credited with being the person who came up with the name HOUDINI for the young Erich Weiss after he told him about a great French conjurer Robert-Houdin. Jacob told him that by adding an 'i' to the name it would mean 'like Houdin'.

Hyman continued to perform as J.H. Houdini but at some point switched to "J.H. Herne". His brother Joe joined the act and by 1897 they were presenting their version of the Metamorphosis, "The Startling Theosophical Illusion SUBSTITUTION."

While still using the "Houdini" name and billing himself as "The King of Handcuffs" by 1903, Harry sent his brother Leopold, along with their lawyer and a pair of 'king breakers' (handcuffs that cannot be opened) to one of Hyman's shows. When Hyman got around to his challenge requesting people to bring up their own cuffs, Leopold went up and locked Jacob in the 'king breakers' which he was unable to open. The embarrassing incident eventually got Hyman to drop the "Houdini" name. He eventually got out of show business and went into attend medical school at Ohio State University.

In 1906, Harry Houdini was presenting his effect called "The Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery" using the same barrel that Hyman used in his act. Houdini may have purchased Hyman's show and props when he got out.

After becoming a doctor in 1911, he moved to the Los Angeles area, becoming a prominent Beverly Hills physician. He married Lyda Wilcox, who had been a Silent Era movie star known as Dorothy Dale.

Dr. Jacob Hyman would later convert from Judaism to became a Protestant Baptist. He would became a minister and preached at the "Church of the Open Door".[2]