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Tuesday, September 19, 2006 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

How and when did Harry Houdini die?

As befits a master of deception, much mystery surrounds the death of Ehrich Weiss, better known by his stage name, Harry Houdini. The most common misconception about his death arose from the 1953 movie Houdini, starring Tony Curtis. In the movie, Houdini died during a failed escape from the infamous Chinese Water Torture Cell.

The truth was slightly less dramatic. According to the Houdini Historical Center of Appleton, Wisconsin, the famous magician, author, psychic debunker, aviator, and movie star died on Halloween Day, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. The official cause of death was peritonitis caused by appendicitis.

Another misconception has it that Houdini's death resulted from a blow to the stomach:

Houdini was known for his tremendous physical condition, and could withstand blows to the abdomen by tensing his muscles. While performing in Canada, however, he was challenged by a student who didn't give him time to prepare for the punch. Whether or not the blow ruptured his appendix, it did not cause his appendicitis, which is a bacterial infection.

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