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Profile of the Day: Harry Houdini

Profile of the Day: Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

Today we remember magician Harry Houdini, who died on this day in 1926 at the age of 52. Known as one of the greatest illusionists in history, Houdini wowed audiences with his remarkable ability to escape from seemingly impossible situations while in handcuffs or straightjackets.

On October 24, 1926, Houdini made his final performance to a packed theater in Detroit, Michigan. Despite experiencing great pain and a fever of 104 throughout the night, Houdini pushed through to complete his performance. Stories say that days before his Detroit performance, Houdini was visited by a McGill University student in his dressing room who wanted to see if punches to his stomach would hurt him. With Houdini’s permission, the student punched him several times in the abdomen. However, Houdini did not have time to prepare for the blows and had been suffering from pain ever since.

After completing his performance in Detroit, Houdini was taken to the hospital. Diagnosed with appendicitis, doctors began surgery to remove the organ only to find that his appendix had already ruptured. On October 31, Houdini died of peritonitis caused by his ruptured appendix. Although it is not entirely certain that the blows he faced earlier was the cause of his eventual death, Houdini’s insurance company concluded it was and paid his widow double indemnity for accidental death.

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Image: Library of Congress


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