Houdini versus the Spiritualists

Houdini made a name for himself fooling people with his illusions. But he knew they really didn’t believe he was magic, only performer to amuse them. However, when it came to spiritualists who actually claimed to be able to be able to contact the dead, Houdini relished in exposing them as frauds. This desire to expose these frauds may have come in part from his love for his mother. Houdini had a poor childhood and would often work in the streets to earn coins. He would hide them in his coat and tell his mother to shake him when he returned home. When the coins fell out, he told her it was magic. When his beloved mother died, Houdini was grief-stricken. In an attempt to contact his mother, he turned to mediums. When he realized they were frauds, he began to expose their behavior, much of which he knew to be magician tricks.

In the early 20s, spiritualists and psychics were enjoying a booming business. The wife of a Boston surgeon, Margery, was particularly popular. As part of a committee for “Scientific American” magazine, Houdini attended several of her seances. Once he knew her tricks, he exposed her in a 40-page booklet titled “Houdini Exposes the Tricks Used by the Boston Medium ‘Margery.’” He also wrote books on the subject including “Houdini: A Magician Among the Spirits” and “Miracle Mongers and Their Methods: A Complete Expose.”

Houdini had the last laugh on the spiritualists in death. Before he died, he promised he darling wife Bess that is at all possible, he would contact her from the other side. They even had a pre-arranged code so no one could trick her. For the next 10 years, on the night of his death, Halloween, Bess held a seance. After 10 years of no response, Bess ended the ritual, later saying that “tens years is long enough to wait for any man.”
Want to learn more about Houdini or read one of the books he wrote? You can find it all at Amazon.com.

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Libby Pelham

About Libby Pelham

I have always loved to write and Families.com gives me the opportunity to share my passion for writing with others. I work full-time as a web developer at UTHSC and most of my other time is spent with my son (born 2004). I love everything pop culture, but also enjoy writing about green living (it has opened my eyes to many things!) and health (got to worry about that as you get older!).