You'd think if you were a relative of someone as famous as Harry Houdini, you'd know it. But George Hardeen, 59, didn't find out he was Houdini's great-nephew until he was a teenager.
His grandfather was Houdini's brother, Theo Hardeen, also an escape artist. At one point, the brothers performed together. Houdini and his wife, Bess, had no children, and when he died — on Halloween, 85 years ago — he willed all of his props to Theo.
For most of the year, Salem, Mass., looks like many other historic New England towns. Come October, though, the streets are packed with portable toilets, fried dough vendors and carnival rides. It's a major tourist attraction thanks to its infamous 17th-century witch trials.
Tourists line up for psychics' parlors, face-painters and wax museums, but haunted houses are the biggest draw.
Marshall Tripoli has been in the haunted attractions business in Salem for 21 years. He owns the five-year-old Nightmare Factory, where he says his motto is "Care how you scare."
Time for our home video feature, where NPR movie critic Bob Mondello suggests something for those who like to pop their own popcorn and pop in a video. For this Halloween week, Bob suggests sending a shiver up your spine with some classics from: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection.
If you walk into the Safeway near Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown, you'll see a small display of Halloween decorations: witches hats, haunted houses, jack-o-lanterns — the works. That might not seem so strange if it were October or even late September. But it hasn't even hit Labor Day yet.
Safeway isn't the only retailer getting a jump on the holiday. Across the city, shoppers will find Halloween merchandise in Walgreens, Claire's Accessories, Target and Macy's.
The National Retail Federation doesn't have hard numbers on this trend, but the group does have anecdotal data.