Question:Legend has it that Harry Houdini died in 1926 from a ruptured appendix, after receiving multiple blows to his abdomen from a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead. Whatever happened to Whitehead? Was he ever prosecuted? Did he ever express remorse? Is he still alive?
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker: Legend has it that Harry Houdini died in 1926 from a ruptured appendix, after receiving multiple blows to his abdomen from a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead. Whatever happened to Whitehead? Was he ever prosecuted? Did he ever express remorse? Is he still alive?
The eyewitnesses to this event were two McGill University students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley). Their accounts generally agreed. The following is according to Price's description of events. Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times, before Houdini protested. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several times afterwards, and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain. Price recounted that Houdini stated that if he had had time to prepare himself properly, he would have been in a better position to take the blows. After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini's insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.
Houdini’s last performance
When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 degrees F (40°C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit's Grace Hospital. Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31 (Halloween), 1926, at the age of 52.
The blow aggravated existing appendicitis
Despite this, modern medical knowledge gives no reason to believe Houdini's acute appendicitis was caused by any physical trauma. McGill University's archive supported this idea: It appears that Whitehead's punch to Houdini's stomach, while not fatal, aggravated an existing, but still undetected, case of appendicitis.
Houdini refused medical attention
Although in serious pain, Houdini nonetheless continued to travel without seeking medical attention. Harry had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days and refusing medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma.
but you already know this so,
"The Man Who Killed Houdini, showcases Bell tracking down various characters who might've been privy to secrets about Whitehead, who has lain at the Hawthorn-Dale Cemetery since June 1954. Whitehead, a loner, died of malnutrition, according to official papers."
"He locates Whitehead's grave in Mount Royal Cemetery and finds a photo of him standing in a bookstore. He traces Whitehead's younger siblings to Vancouver where he also meets an overwrought woman named Mabel Jackson, who had once loved him. He talks to the two other students, Jack Price and Sam Smiley, who had been in Houdini's dressing room on Oct. 22. They're both aged, of course, but lucid.
He finds two women in Montreal who as children lived in the same building as Whitehead before he died in 1954 and remember once entering his shabby newspaper-stuffed apartment. He finds the widow of the young Detroit doctor Danny Cohn, who had ministered to the magician in his last hours and who had brought Houdini his final meal from the local deli "Farmer's Chop Suey," a Jewish-style dish of raw vegetables and sour cream.
Then on page 219, Bell hits paydirt when he describes the arrival at his local post office of "a thick brown manila envelope" - the envelope of his dreams. He had at last persuaded the New York Life Insurance Co. to go into their archives and release the file on Harry Houdini. Houdini's wife Bess collected $105,000 under the double indemnity clause of his policy but first the insurance company demanded sworn affidavits from his doctors and from all witnesses to the punch.
Others writers on Houdini had been aware of the existence of these affidavits, but failed to locate them. "I sat down on the terrace of the village restaurant, ordered a coffee and started to pore over documents that apparently nobody other than officers of the insurance company had ever seen," Bell writes.
The affidavits (Whitehead's is evasive) confirm the already known story and provide Bell with a sample of Whitehead's signature, which he submits to a graphologist for analysis.
The puncher emerges from Bell's investigation as a Dostoyevskian character, a tormented failure with no visible means of support besides living off women, a shoplifter of books, a secretive and sickly man (he died of malnutrition) and possibly a drug addict or alcoholic.
"I do not know the precise origin of my father's interest in Houdini's death," says Daniel Bell, "but I think it was aroused when he found out that Houdini had likely been killed by punches thrown by a McGill student. My father was a Montrealer and a graduate of McGill, and it must have seemed like an interesting story to follow up. My father was a journalist (frequent contributor to Weekend Magazine) and he had an ear for such stories."
Bell Sr. began working on the book in the early '80s and found leads by advertising in Montreal papers. He kept adding chapters as information trickled in. "My father never did feel that he really 'completed' the quest, because he thought more relevant information might yet turn up," Daniel says."
he is dead he lived the rest of his life in jail.