Here is part of the stories reported in the New York Times about his insurance that helps to verify Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz theory about how Houdini died as reported in what was a controled bakcstage dressing room story, so that Bess Houdini would be paid double indemnity. More to be added to this page as we go though our extensive research that brought about this conclusion.
PART 1. BESS DENIED DOUBLE INDEMNITY. THE PUNCHING ACCIDENT MYTH DEVELOPS.
Insurance Company Confirms Denial that Blow Killed Magician
MONTREAL, Dec. 22 (AP) Had Harry Houdini, the magician, really died by a blow delivered by a student, as was reported and denied, his relatives would have received double the $25,000 insurance paid them, it developed today.
H.J.J. McKeon, local manager of a New York insurance company, who has concluded an investigation for his firm into the cause of Houdini's death, said the magician carried a policy which was to be doubled in case of accident.
McKeon confirmed denials that Houdini had been injured in a scuffle with college boys behind stage, as was alleged just after his death. Houdini was ill when he arrived here, said McKeon, and there was no evidence that he had staged any stomach-punching demonstrations at any time during his stay here.
Injury in Montreal is Denied
He was the Montreal manager of New York Life Assurance Co.
MONTREAL, Nov. 1 (AP) Harry Houdini did not die of an injury received on Oct. 22 but was so sick when he came here that he was under care of a trained nurse, two men connected with his Montreal appearance asserted today. The magician's family in Detroit expressed the opinion that the fatal illness was due to a blow dealt by a McGill University student in testing the magician's strength. Abbie Wright, manager of the local theatre, said Houdini was ill when he came to Montreal. Dr. William D. Tait, Professor of Psychology at McGill University, where Houdini delivered a lecture before the McGill Union, said there was no encounter between the magician and a student.
PART 2. BESS REVIVES THE CASE, LOOKING FOR THE ADDITIONAL $25,000
THE NEW YORK TIMES * February 26, 1927
MRS. HOUDINI REVIVES REPORT OF FATAL BLOW
Seeks Double Insurance on Plea that Magician Was Struck by McGill Student
Special to The New York Times.
MONTREAL, Quebec, Feb. 25- It is reported here that Mrs. Houdini, widow of the magician, is seeking double liability insurance on her husband's life on the ground that he died as the result of a blow in the abdomen received while on his visit to Montreal.
Mrs. Houdini is said to have affidavits from three students of McGill University that when in Houdini's dressing room at the Princess Theatre here, the week before he died, one student struck the magician a friendly blow in the abdomen. Rupture of the appendix is said to have resulted.
At the time Houdini was stricken with his last illness, the report was that a newspaper man had struck the actor while in the theatre dressing room. That was denied. A second report was that Houdini had been struck while giving a lecture before the students at McGill University. That was denied by the university authorities.
This is the first report that has come to Montreal alleging that a McGill student struck Houdini a playful blow at the theatre.
PART 3. AFTER BERNARD ERNST, HER LAWYER SENDS IN HIS AFIDAVITS AND DOCTORS OPINIONS SHE GETS THE MONEY
THE NEW YORK TIMES * June 14, 1927
$50,000 FOR MRS. HOUDINI
Double Indemnity Paid for Husband's Accidental Death
In an investigation into the death of Harry Houdini, magician, it was said yesterday at the main office of the New York Life Insurance Company, 346 Broadway, that expert testimony had established that his death had been caused by a blow in the abdomen, delivered at Houdini's request by a student of McGill University.
As a result of this inquiry Houdini's widow has received $50,000. Of this amount $25,000 was accident indemnity, Houdini having been insured for $25,000 by a policy providing that, in case of accidental death, $25,000 additional would be paid as special indemnity. The check was delivered to Mrs. Houdini's attorney last week.
Houdini had told the McGill University athlete to strike him in the abdomen to show the strength of his abdominal muscles. He had been struck in this manner on various occasions as a part of his exhibitions and consequently the verdict was that death was due to an accident.
There seems to be no evidence that Houdini was "struck in this manner on various ocassions as part of his exhibitions."
We verified this in our research with one of Houdini's best biographers and experts, Pulitzer Prize winning author, Kenneth Silverman.
Kenneth Silverman, in the most carefully researched book on Houdini on page 409 of Houdini!!! The Career of Erich Weiss says...
After more questions and conversation, Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead asked Houdini his opinion of the miracles mentioned in the Bible, and looked taken aback when Houdini declined to comment on matters of this nature. Then the inquisitive young man began asking about his physical strength: Is it true, Mr. Houdini, that you can resist lhe hardest blows struck to the abdomen?
The question surprised Smilovitz, coming he said out of a clear sky. It was, in fact, a surprising question. Nowhere in the available record does Houdini claim to be able to absorb punches to the stomach, although such a story may have gotten around along with much other spurious Houdini lore. Houdini ignored the question and, Smilovitz sensed, tried to divert attention from his abdominal muscles by having the students feel his forearm and back muscles instead. His dodge did not satisfy J. Gordon Whitehead, however, who asked again if it was true that his stomach could withstand very hard blows. When Houdini again referred to the strength of his arms and back. Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead asked, Would you mind if I delivered a few blows to your abdomen, Mr. Houdini?
Houdini accepted the challenge as he had so many others.
We believe it was a attack by a disgruntled person, who was bent on hitting Houdini. We belileve J. Gordon Whitehead meant to hurt Houdini. He had been stalking Houdini pretty much every day Houdini was in Montreal. With Houdini dead, he now might be facing a murder rap. He was glad to go along with the "accident" premise. We believe the story the world believes about the attack was put together in part by her lawyer Bernard Ernst to collect double the money.
After Bess got the money she reportedly send the two other boys $200.00. This is inflation adjusted to about $2,000.00. Gold was $20.00 an ounce. They could have bought 10 ounces of gold. What is that worth today? About $15,000.00. We mention this to show that at the time $200.00 was a substantial amont of money as the $50,000.00 she got was. She was able to use it to live out her life without Houdini, which was a good thing.
MORE OF OUR RESEARCH TO FOLLOW!
Dorothy Dietrich & Dick Brookz
We need your help for our projects. The Houdini Museum is a 501 C-3 a non profit organization. We need funds for research, for repair of the Houdini grave that we have been put in charge of by the cemetery since we replaced the bust, and for repairs and reconstruction of the facade of the building that the Office of Economic Development has awarded us a $30,000 grant that we must match with donations in order to get the money. Please help!
Click here to go to page 2, Houdini Murdered.
Click here to go to page 3, Houdini Murdered.
Click here to continue to page 4, Houdini Murdered. As of yet uncaptioned pictures about this story
Other sites of interest concerning this subject.
These are all works in progress and will change over the coming weeks. So check back as we organize it all better..
Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead Friends LadyMarler, LadyAllen
J. Gordon Whitehead out to get Houdini
Julia Sauer Houdini Ernst affadavit
Julia Karcher Houdini Ernst affadavit
Mackenzie King and Spiritualists
Houdini's Sick Ptomaine before Montreal New York Times
Things to do in Scranton
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