Saturday, October 31, 2015

On this day in 1926: Houdini dies in Detroit

David Stott Building
One of the world's greatest entertainers, magician Harry Houdini, died on Halloween in 1926 at Grace Hospital in Midtown Detroit.

Like another dominant entertainer of his era, Buffalo Bill Cody, it's difficult to separate the legend from the facts with Houdini's life from the legend. And so it is with his death.

Houdini's last performance was on October 24 at the long-ago demolished Garrrick Theatre at 1122 Griswold Street in downtown Detroit, just south of where the David Stott Building now stands. Suffering from appendicitis that may have been caused by a punch to the stomach by a Montreal college student who responded to the magician's longstanding challenge that he could endure a gut punch, Houdini struggled through his show with a high fever.

At first Houdini was optimistic that he would pull through, but on October 31 he uttered his last words, "I'm tired of fighting."

There is no historical marker at the site of the old Garrick--not for the theater and not for it being the site of Houdini's last performance.

I mean, wake up, Detroit, you have a tourist attraction right under your nose.

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