MICHIGAN HISTORY: Magician Harry Houdini Killed in Detroit, 1926
The great magician harry Houdini performed his last tricks in Michigan and was ultimately killed - by mistake - by a college student named J. Gordon Whitehead.
Houdini performed at Detroit's Garrick Theatre on October 24, 1926 in great pain and a temperature of 104. So what happened?
Two days earlier, Houdini was relaxing in his Montreal backstage dressing room when a couple of college kids knocked on his door; they entered and mentioned to Houdini they were fans and admirers of his. One of Houdini's boasts was that he could withstand any punch doled out on him; when J. Gordon asked if this was true, Houdini said "yes, I suppose it is" and told the kid to go ahead and give it a shot. However, Houdini was reclining and was about to get up when the kid began slugging him before he could stand up, not having time to brace himself for the onslaught.
The blows inflicted more damage than everyone expected and Houdini told the kid to stop. Houdini went ahead with his Montreal performance but in severe pain. He finished and then prepared to head to his next stop: the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.
His temperature had risen to 102 and was 104 by the time he went onstage. The punches had aggravated appendicitis which cause Houdini to pass out onstage during his performance. He was admitted to Detroit's Grace Hospital where they discovered Houdini had peritonitis, brought on by his ruptured appendix. Houdini passed away on Halloween - October 31, 1926. He was buried in Queens, New York.
To this day, people from all over the country attempt to raise Houdini's spirit through seances every Halloween. The thing is, Houdini spent a good portion of his professional life debunking spiritualists and the paranormal...so why would he want to appear at someone's seance?
The Garrick Theatre and Grace Hospital have both since been torn down.