Houdini's time of death on Halloween 1926

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Postby castawaydave » 05/20/08 07:25 PM

Hi--I have Googled & Googled but can't find the exact time of day Houdini died on Halloween 1926.

Was it at 10:00am on a sunny day, whilst bluebirds innocently twittered outside the window;
--or perhaps just before the witching hour on a dark and stormy night, as lightning flashed and thunder rumbled in the distant mountains...?

Gran Houdini, Mr. Connolly, or indeed anyone: do you know?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 05/20/08 07:46 PM

1:16 pm or 1:26 PM.

I'll check
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Postby Joe Pecore » 05/20/08 07:57 PM

Bill Kalush in "The Secret Life of Houdini" has it as 1:26PM.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 05/20/08 08:04 PM

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 05/20/08 08:05 PM

Thunder didn't come into play until the last seance in 1936. On a clear night. ;)
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Postby castawaydave » 05/20/08 08:36 PM

Thanks, gents.
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Postby castawaydave » 05/20/08 08:43 PM

Cool link,Kevin:

His death certificate says:
"Occupation of Deceased: Actor + Lecturer"...

--and says "death occured on the date stated above at 1:30 p.m."...did doctors back then just round to the nearest 1/2 hour?
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Postby Greg Edmonds » 08/24/08 06:47 PM

Dave:

FYI, doctors certainly did record the time of death in round figures, or by random guesses. They still do.

Though long out of the medical business, when I worked at a regional trauma center, it was often up to me to record the "official" time of death on the charts of accident victims, gunshot and stab victims, and those who expired do to "natural causes." If, after our staff completed its "heroic efforts" to save the lives of these people and it became necessary to "call it," the euphemism for stopping all resuscitation efforts, I would, if there was still marginal cardiac activity (though obviously no chance to save the person in question), sometimes wait and actually watch the clock and the monitor to enter the time of expiration.

The latter was a "luxury" scenario, however, as we (or I) was often too busy to watch and wait. In such cases, I would simply guess the time I estimated for the individuals bodily functions to cease. This is still common practice, especially with terminally ill hospitalized or institutionalized patients. It's also very true, of course, with people who die at home. A person might be dead for an hour or more before the established "official" time of death.

In Houdini's case, I'm guessing Bess and others were in attendance, and it's certainly possible a physician was at his bedside when he passed away.

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Postby opie » 08/25/08 09:34 AM

Thanks Doc....It is kind of difficult to argue with a Death Certificate, even one that has a confusion factor. The time posted is clearly l:30, but the ll7 written below it makes one wonder.

I know that Ron Cartlidge had several references to the time of Houdini's death and finally elected to use 1:26 p.m., based on several books and articles which used that time.

Here is Ron's account of Houdini's last struggles with the problem that killed Houdini:

"Houdini completed his tour of Montreal in severe pain. His next stop was Detroit. Finally, while en route to Detroit, word was sent ahead, asking for a doctor to meet the train. The doctor made a quick examination of Houdini and determined that he had appendicitis. Still, Houdini felt incluned to perform that evening. After the show, he collapsed, and that night at the Statler Hotel Houdini was examined by the chief surgeon from Grace Hospital in Detroit. He urged Houdini to accompany him to the hospital, but Houdini refused until he conferred with his private physician in New York. He finally agreed to go to the hospital and was operated on the next afternoon. His appendix was removed. Unfortunately, infection had set in and had spread in Houdini's body. Houdini continued to hang on, despite deteriorating conditions. His final words were, "I can't fight any more." He died at Grace Hospital on Halloween, October 31, at 1:26 p.m."

(From: Houdini's Texas Tours: 1916 & 1923, p. 92, by Ron Cartlidge (Edited by Opie R. Houston), Austin: Ron Cartlidge Pubs, 2002).

Hope that sheds some light..........opie
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Postby Jim Maloney » 08/25/08 09:57 AM

opie wrote:Thanks Doc....It is kind of difficult to argue with a Death Certificate, even one that has a confusion factor. The time posted is clearly l:30, but the ll7 written below it makes one wonder.


I believe that the 117 is a code number for the cause of death.

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Postby opie » 08/25/08 10:18 AM

I was not sure it was a time either, but there were so many other sources which listed 1:26, that Ron decided to use that time.

Ron and I spent two years arguing over commas, fragments, and all sorts of things, including backup for dates, times, etc. Ron had plenty of material to back up 1:26, and by that time, I am sure that I was happy to see the book about ready to go to press....
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/25/08 12:58 PM

Pardon me for being dense, but of what possible importance is it what exact moment Houdini died?
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Postby opie » 08/25/08 05:48 PM

I am a little disappointed that I did not have the death certificate, from which I would have advised that the time of death be printed in Ron's book as 1:30. As the editor, I feel that I was amiss in allowing that error. Other than that, I don't have any problem with 1:26.

Perhaps in future seances, we need to give attention to both times. Do you suppose that is why Houdini has not spoken to us? tsk tsk...

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Postby Steve V » 08/29/08 01:43 PM

Richard, it is important because 1:26 is much sexier than 1:30 as a time of death.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/29/08 01:58 PM

what remarkable text: "it is important because 1:26 is much sexier than 1:30 as a time of death." A sexy time of death?

It's got drama. Maybe even the climax of different story entitled 'The Handcuff King'.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/29/08 03:00 PM

1:26 is much sexier.
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Postby castawaydave » 08/29/08 11:50 PM

Chief Genii asked: "...of what possible importance is it what exact moment Houdini died?"

I wondered: if one was to stage a Houdini seance around Halloween, what would be the historically accurate time; the optimal time to attempt contacting his spirit?

Definitely wanted to do better than the Canadian psychic in that other thread.

Unfortunately 1:26 is not sexy. It's "lunchtime", not "spirit raisin' time"...
--Oh Harry! Why couldn't you have held on until almost midnight, which would have been SO much sexier?
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Postby Steve V » 08/30/08 12:11 AM

Okay, just tell people he was pronounced dead and just as pen hit paper to record the death the clock at the church across the street, a church who's bell didn't ring between the hours of nine pm and seven am, struck twelve.

At the very least you can toss in a one and say he died at 11:26 PM, I mean come on, like it didn't snow on Copperfield in New Jersey.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/30/08 02:06 AM

castawaydave wrote:
Unfortunately 1:26 is not sexy. It's "lunchtime", not "spirit raisin' time"...
--Oh Harry! Why couldn't you have held on until almost midnight, which would have been SO much sexier?


Definetly not lunch time in most places. And if Houdini held on till midnight, then there wouldn't be the Halloween connection. ;) Definetly sexier.
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Postby castawaydave » 08/30/08 03:47 AM

You got me Kevin: I should have said "practically lunchtime"...

--But please note that I did say "almost midnight" because we are certainly in agreement that Halloween is much sexier than November 1st... :^D
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/30/08 11:13 AM

Dave and if you came over my house, it's like Harry never left us. :)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/30/08 11:15 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Pardon me for being dense, but of what possible importance is it what exact moment Houdini died?


Just one of the ways a medium can tell if they are in touch with the right ghost. Apparently it's a big thing for them to pretend to be Houdini.
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