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Weird Events That Happened in Michigan: Houdini’s Death

Credit: Library of Congress
Credit: Library of Congress

 

Halloween is almost here and is also the day that one of the most famous escape artists, Harry Houdini, passed away in Michigan.

The story actually starts a few days before Halloween 1926, in Montreal. After a show Houdini was resting and he was talking to some local students. One student asked if he could really take punches or blows to the stomach and feel no pain, as he made that claim earlier. Houdini said he could take punches, and according to stories from people in the room, that student then punched him in the mid-section multiple times. Houdini wasn’t ready to take the punches so it left him in pain not only after that day but multiple days after.

Houdini would brush off the incident and make his way to Detroit for what would be his final performance. He would still have pain throughout the trip and his performance at the Garrick Theater. He proceeded to struggle through his routine before collapsing immediately after the final curtain.  That same night, he was taken to a Detroit hospital and prepped for surgery. Doctors successfully removed his appendix, which was found to have ruptured several days earlier, poising his insides. Despite this, Houdini clung to life until October 31, when he died with his wife Bess and his two brothers by his side. The official cause of Houdini’s death was listed as peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix.

Most people blamed his death on the punches to the mid-section he got several days prior but such cases of “traumatic appendicitis” are extraordinarily rare, but in 1926, the diagnosis was widely accepted.

Over the years people have debated if this was an assassination attempt or maybe that someone tried to poison Houdini and the appendicitis was a cover up. What do you think? To read more about his death, check it out here from the History Channel.  

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