Most people do not realize that Bess Houdini was turned down for the double indemnity payment of Houdini's life insurance policy that could help set her up for life. When she was turned down high powered lawyer Bernard Ernst went into action and put together a scenario that would assure her of getting the money. He got affidavits from the three people in the dressing room. J. gordon Whitehead, who did the punching, and was stalking Houdini, did not expect to kill Houdini, but probably wanted to teach him a lesson. He asked Houdini some pointed questions or challenges such as "Do you (even) believe in the miracles of the bible?". The other two boys felt he was out of line and abrasive. Whitehead was much older by about 10 or 12 years, not a boxer as often wrongly claimed, but a "student of divinity" and a muscular construction worker and member of the college boating team. He was an oddball, reclusive, off the beaten path, studied far out stuff like dianetics, the precursor of Scientology, probably gave readings, etc. He died of malnutrition, due to probably being an alcoholic or drug addict. They could hardly enter his apartment which was filled to the ceiling with about 6 tons of back issue newspapers. They had to call the fire department to have them removed.
bernard ernst had the three give affidavits, which he probably had a hand in writing so the would agree and fit the "accident" story. i am sure gordon whitehead was glad to go along with the "accidental death" story since having caused houdini's death he could now be up for a murder charge. when ernst looked over the affidavits he asked the three to make some changes. the two boys agreed, but gordon whitehead, who now realized he needed his own legal help, declined on the advice of his lawyer, so his statement stayed the same, though it was in line with the general accident story.
So, if you like us, when reading the Houdini biographies, felt the dressing room tale did not sound quite right this is the reason.
Doctors now say, as most did then, except "experts" found by Bernard Ernst, that a burst appendex should not be caused by blows to the stomach. Houdini was a stand up guy who believe in mind over matter. Strong willed and full of self denial when it came to pain. He would have been the type to would have ignored the pain, as i am sure he did on many other occasions, having worked with bruise and broken bones. B y ignoring the warning signs in some ways it could be said he caused his own death. MORE OF OUR RESEARCH TO FOLLOW!
Dorothy Dietrich & Dick Brookz
We need your help for our projects. The Houdini Museum is a 501 C-3 a non profit organization. We need funds for research, for repair of the Houdini grave that we have been put in charge of by the cemetery since we replaced the bust, and for repairs and reconstruction of the facade of the building that the Office of Economic Development has awarded us a $30,000 grant that we must match with donations in order to get the money. Please help!
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