Archduke Franz Ferdinand was born December 18, 1863; he was the archduke of Austro-Hungary, Austria-Este, and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia. His entire life was spent around the military. Ferdinand was educated by private tutors and he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army. While Ferdinand was in the army, he received much recognition; in 1855 he became the Captain, in 1888 the Major, in 1890 the Colonel, and in 1896 the General. Ferdinand became heir to the throne once his father, Carl Ludwig, died in 1896. People saw that Ferdinand’s marriage to Sophie would undermine the stability of the monarch. It was believed that in order to be a suitable woman to marry a member of the Austro-Hungarian royal family, you needed to have descended from the House of Hapsburg or from a ruling dynasty in Europe.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand is depicted in the scene on page 105 in the novel Ragtime sitting by the Countess Sophie in a white car watching Harry Houdini perform the flight practices of airplanes. Later, Houdini is escorted to the white car and he meets Archduke. In awe, Ferdinand congratulates Houdini on the “invention of the aeroplane.”
"First World War.com - Who's Who - Archduke Franz Ferdinand." First World War.com - A Multimedia History of World War One. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/ferdinand.htm .
Youtube clip of Harry Houdini's plane stunt: &feature=related