Monday, April 30, 2018

The time Houdini swallowed needles...for real

One doesn't think of Houdini's East Indian Needle Trick as one of his more death-defying feats, but it apparently has its dangers. This comes from the November 11, 1940 Chicago Tribune, and is a story I've never heard before.

Click to enlarge.

Based on the description, this appears to have happened during Houdini's 8 week run at Princess Theater in Chicago in early 1926. A bad year for accidents!

Houdini wasn't the only magician to have a mishap with the Needles. In 1946 an amateur magician named Stanley McAuley garnered headlines when he swallowed a needle during his own performance of the trick. It took two operations to retrieve it.



  1. One of the added pleasures of these newspaper gems you've been finding are "quotes" of Houdini's patter. His self-deprecating humor to counter-balance his public bravado could only endear him that much more to the audience.

  2. See David Price, Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theater (1985), page 467 (A “Needle King’s” Accident) for one performance that ended in surgery.