That headline is one of those insane things you never expect to write, or even read, in your lifetime, but newly restored Houdini movies show that he's the first person EVER to fight a robot on film. If you're at all interested in robots, Houdini, or some combination of the two going at it, get a copy of Houdini: The Movie Star on Amazon. Now, who's the first person to have sex with a robot on film? Charlie Chaplin? [Boing Boing]
He was like Jackie Chan, before Jackie Chan.
As for fighting a robot...at least in that clip it looked more like he was the first person EVER to run away from a robot. (Granted, I probably also would have run away from a robot that could shoot lightening from its fingers, but then again, I'm not Houdini.)