Harry Houdini, born in 1874, was considered the greatest magician and escape artist of his era, and possibly of all time. When he died in 1926 from a ruptured appendix, Houdini left his magician's equipment to his brother Theodore, his former partner who performed under the name Hardeen.
His library of books on magic and the occult was offered to the American Society for Psychical Research on the condition that J. Malcolm Bird, research officer and editor of the ASPR Journal, resign. Bird refused, and the collection went instead to the Library of Congress.
The rabbits he pulled out of his hat went to the children of friends. Houdini left his wife a secret code -- ten words chosen at random -- that he would use to contact her from the afterlife. His wife held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after his death, but Houdini never appeared.