Theodore Hardeen (or just Hardeen) is a supporting character in the Season 1 episode "Paris Green", played by Remy Auberjonois. Hardeen is a magician and escape artist and also a younger brother to the much more famous Harry Houdini.
Theodore Hardeen was born Ferenc Dezso Weisz in a Jewish family of Budapest, Hungary on March 4, 1876, and grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he went by the name Theodore Weiss before changing to Hardeen. He conceived several new performances including the act of escaping from a straightjacket in front of an audience. He performed initially with his brother as "The Brothers Houdini" before the two parted ways. Afterwards Hardeen usually introduced himself as "The brother of Houdini".
Nucky Thompson proposes his paramour Margaret Schroeder to see one of Hardeen's acts in April 1920 and she is enthusiashtic. This date, however, is ruined when Frank Hague demands more favours from Nucky Thompson before agreeing to support him on the Roads Appropiation Bill. Nucky suggests Hague to see Hardeen with him and Margaret but he finds the idea ridiculous, even after Nucky proposes to pay a whore to accompany Hague too. Instead, Hague forces Nucky to accompany him to a brothel and spent the night drinking booze and seeing whores. Since Nucky does not call Margaret back to tell her that the date has been cancelled, forcing her to get the information herself from Nucky's manservant Eddie Kessler, this becomes Margaret's first disillusionment in their relationship. ("Family Limitation")
It's not until September when Margaret and Nucky finally get to see Hardeen perform, this time accompanied by Harry Prince and Annabelle. Hardeen's attempt to free himself from a straightjacket while being suspended from the feet takes over six and a half minutes, earning him sarcastic comments from the public to call his brother. Nucky also schedules a private act for them and ward bosses Fleming and Boyd, during which Hardeen performs card tricks and transfers Margaret's bracelet to Annabelle with none of the women realizing it. When Nucky and Fleming mention that they have seen Houdini do the straightjacked act while hanging from the garden pier, Hardeen dismisses it saying that doing it at 50 feet is the same as doing it at 5. He also claims that Houdini used to do the escape hidden from the audience before Hardeen came with the idea of doing it in the open, as he did with the act of escaping from a milk can. The distended discussion gets on Harry Prince's nerves since he is already worried about recently losing all his money in the original Ponzi Scheme. When Hardeen tells Harry to moderate his language in the presence of the ladies, Harry insults him. ("Paris Green")
Nucky later has a discussion with Margaret concerning the death of her husband, Hans Schroeder. Nucky tells about it to his brother Eli during a visit to his home, and the talk soon devolves into yet another discussion between the two brothers over the suitability of Nucky's relationship with Margaret, Eli's concern over the possibility of his involvement in the death of Hans being made public by her and finally Eli's criticizing Nucky's way of interacting with other people and the consequences it brings to them, such as when he got shot at Lolly's Casino. Nucky responds by sarcastically comparing Eli to Hardeen, an entertaining magician, he thinks, but only worth because of his familiar connection. ("Paris Green")
- "Deception requires complicity, however unconscious. We want to be deceived."
- "I'm a magician, Miss. Not a thief."
- "It's an entertaining act. But if he wasn't Houdini's brother, nobody'd give a fuck." (Nucky Thompson)
|Season one appearances|
|Boardwalk Empire||The Ivory Tower||Broadway Limited||Anastasia|
|Nights in Ballygran||Family Limitation||Home||Hold Me in Paradise|
|Belle Femme||The Emerald City||Paris Green||A Return to Normalcy|