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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 03:09 GMT
Bid to exhume Houdini's remains
Harry Houdini
Houdini had countless fans - but also a few enemies
US forensic scientists are hoping to exhume the remains of escapologist Harry Houdini in an effort to find out whether he was murdered.

"We'll examine his hairs, his fingernails, any bone fractures," the head of the forensic team said.

Houdini died in the US city of Detroit in 1926 at the age of 52. There have been rumours that he was poisoned.

Relatives support the plan to examine the body and are due to formally request an exhumation on Monday.

The request will be made before a judge in New York, where the Hungarian-American performer was buried.

No autopsy was performed at the time, and the cause of death was said to be a ruptured appendix.

But Houdini's great nephew George Hardeen believes he may have been murdered by a group of psychics he had exposed as frauds.

Chad Seigel, one of the lawyers seeking tests, said:

"His later days were devoted to debunking these fraudulent mediums as phoneys and given the fact that he lived his life by uncovering the truth, it's only fair to make sure that there are no falsehoods surrounding his demise."

A biography published last year, entitled The Secret Life of Houdini, says he received death threats from mediums towards the end of his life.

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