October 31, 2006
Harry Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist, earnestly explored the religion of spiritualism and communication with the dead after his beloved mother’s death in 1913. He eventually crusaded vigorously against those whom he believed were fraudulent mediums, debunking and exposing those whom he argued preyed on the mourning of the grieving. He was renowned for his ability to seem to escape from almost any bonds. As such, he made a pact with his wife Bess, that if anyone could escape the bonds of death, he would.
In this bonus episode of Point of Inquiry for Halloween night 2006, Joe Nickell, the world’s leading paranormal investigator and CSICOP’s senior research fellow, and D.J. Grothe (both of whom are former professional magicians) conduct CFI’s 10th Annual Houdini Seance. They also explore Houdini’s experiences as a “magician among the spirits,” recount the ways he challenged the mediums of his day, and discuss his lasting impact on skepticism and society’s beliefs about the afterlife.
Also in this bonus episode is an audio clip of the last Houdini Seance of which Bess Houdini was a part. The recording, from Halloween night, 1936, was made at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood.
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Books Mentioned in This Episode:
Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Brea