Friday, August 3, 2012

The McGill explanation

The official website for McGill University in Montreal has an FAQ section and one of those FAQs is, as you might expect, what role a University student played in Houdini's death. Here is their answer:

Pretty good answer (despite misspelling Ehrich). However, the University is certainly taking a path that resolves Whitehead -- and by extension the school -- of any responsibility. While many now believe Houdini had a developing case of appendicitis when he was struck, there are some, like Houdini expert Patrick Culliton (Houdini's Ghost), who believes the punches did cause Houdini's illness. And there are others, most notably the gang at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, who would not categorize Whitehead's blows as "non-malicious". They believe Whitehead had every intention of doing serious harm to Houdini that day.

It is interesting that the answer confirms Whitehead's enrollment in 1926. I believe Don Bell in his seminal work, The Man Who Killed Houdini, said he was never able to confirm that Whitehead was ever actually a student. News that Whitehead never graduated is also new, although I think this was always assumed.

Something tells me the question of Whitehead's intent and the timing of Houdini's illness might never be entirely resolved.


  1. It is interesting that McGill goes along with our belief that Houdini was already ill before the Whitehead punches. We will be putting more up on our Houdini Museum website about Houdini's death never before brought to light. Some of it is the same information we tried to get Brad Meltzer's Houdini show to cover. They had already had their own agenda planned. When we deduced where they were going we complained loudly and asked not to be included in the show if the were to bend the facts and connect us with other false ideas.

    Before putting it up we will be giving John a heads up on this research if it is of interest to Wild About Harry.

    1. I think it's odd that you find it "interesting" that the school seemingly believes that it was a pre-existing condition.

      On the subject of the affidavits, you constantly and repeatedly dismiss them by virtue of the motivations you ascribe to them. Yet here, since someone seemingly agrees with you, your "what's their motivation" shtick goes out the window.

      The school doesn't want to be known for being responsible for (or even tangentially connected to) the death of a legend on par with Houdini. That tangential connection ship sailed way back in the day, but they can still play damage control by saying the two elements (Houdini's death due to untreated appendicitis & the punch from one of their students) were unrelated.

      As concerned as you are with people's motivations in claiming what they do, that should've been incredibly obvious. Even in the below comment it's "...Bernard Ernst a lawyer with a vested interest in how the story played out", like McGill somehow doesn't have a PR interest in not having been related/responsible for the death of Houdini?

      Everyone is looking out for their own butt in this situation--you do your credibility a great disservice by only acknowledging that when it runs counter to the "facts" that you want people to accept and sweeping it under the rug otherwise. Intellectual honesty, please.

  2. We feel this is just the beginning of important information about Whitehead and Houdini that we will be adding to in the coming year.

    McGill University appears to agree with our theory that Houdini was already ill before he was punched by Whitehead.

    Please note they also mention Houdini discussed Margery at McGill. She had threatened Houdini with bodily harm should he expose her. It is believed she said her people would give him a good beating. This may have helped to incite Whitehead to try to punish Houdini backstage for his many exposures of spiritualists. At that point he seemed agressive, pushy and annoyed the others in the dressing room. We have come to the conclusion in our research that Whitehead very likely purposely punched Houdini. It was no "accident" as purported by Bernard Ernst to collect the extra thousands of dollars in insurance for Bess. Most of what we believe happened in the dressing room comes from only that one source, Bernard Ernst a lawyer with a vested interest in how the story played out. Whitehead went along with the "accident" story since he did not expect the blows to kill Houdini and did not want to be charged with murder or man slaughter.

    Whitehead was a kook, a hermit, I believe he did readings, probably had strong and odd religious beliefs, challenged Houdini's belief in the Bible, followed or stalked Houdini that week, later on looked into Dyanatics (Scientology). He even went to jail for stealing books from a book store. One of the books he went to jail for stealing was about the occult science of handwriting analysis. We have a copy of the same book in our collection at the Houdini Museum. It is not scientific in any way. It has many astrological references. He died of malnutrition. When he died six tons of newspapers stacked in his cluttered apartment had to be removed by the fire department out of fear the building might collapse. He mostly wore pajamas and sent kids out to buy groceries. None of this was known about Whitehead when he punched Houdini.

    We have also found Whitehead was close friends with people very high up in Canadian aristocracy who believed in spells, clensings and hauntings including people closely connected Prime Minister McKenzie Smith, the biggest spiritualist and conductor of seances in Canadian history.

    Dick Brookz & Dorothy Dietrich

    More to follow as we will reveal as this year comes to an end.