Houdini’s Grave

Nestled in the belt of cemeteries that rambles across Queens is the grave of Harry Houdini, the great escape artist and illusionist.

Houdini died at the age of 52 on Halloween of 1926, following punches to the stomach by a McGill University student who demanded of Houdini if the legends were true of his steel abdomen, but didn’t give Houdini time to prepare for impact. This combined with untreated appendicitis doomed Houdini, and he died in the arms of his wife, Bess.

2,000 people attended his funeral, after which he was interred in a family plot in Machpelah Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Glendale, Queens. Yet before he died, he left behind instructions to those close to him that were to be his messages from the beyond if heard in a seance. The tradition of the Halloween seances started with Bess, yet even after her own passing, where she was actually not buried with Houdini as she wasn’t Jewish so her death date on his tombstone remains blank, it continued. To this day people regularly come to Houdini’s grave on Halloween to await his return.

The grave itself is alongside other members of Houdini’s family, leading up to a monument of a granite bench where a woman stoops in mourning below a bust of Houdini that looms up over the emblem of the Society of American Magicians. The bust regularly gets stolen and replaced, and is believed to be the sole graven image found in a Jewish cemetery.

By kind permission of www.atlasobscura.com

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