J. Gordon Whitehead

Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead was the McGill University student who punched Houdini in his dressing room at the Princess Theater in Montreal on October 22, 1926. Whitehead's blows either started, contributed, or covered-up the appendicitis that would take Houdini's life nine days later.

J. Gordon Whitehead was born November 25, 1895 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was 31 when the dressing room incident occurred. Popular mythology states that he was a boxer, but this is not true. It's also not clear whether Whitehead's intent was to harm Houdini that day, or if it was a misunderstanding.

Whitehead was not charged in the incident and lived out a solitary life in Montreal. At some point he had an accident which resulted in a steal plate being placed in his head. In 1928 Whitehead was charged twice for shoplifting books. In his later years the troubled Whitehead lived as a recluse and hoarder. He died of malnutrition on July 5, 1954. He is buried in an unmarked plot in Hawthorn-Dale Cemetery in Montreal, Canada.

The photo above is from The Man Who Killed Houdini by Don Bell and shows Whitehead in Rodick's Bookstore in Montreal around 1950. It is the only confirmed photo of J. Gordon Whitehead.

Time to rethink the rethinking on the Houdini punch

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