Harry Houdini is possibly the most famous magician and escape artist of all time; the man was a modern marvel who could get himself out of almost any situation, and he had more than a few magical tricks up his sleeve. Sadly, he didn’t die during a great escape gone wrong, but of a ruptured appendix caused by an overzealous fan.
On October 22nd of 1926 a couple of college boys came to see Harry in his dressing room. One of the young men, J. Gordon Whitehead, asked the performer if it was true, could he really take any hit to the stomach. Harry, who is said to have been going through his mail at that time and not really paying attention, answered that Yes, he could, if given proper time to prepare himself for the blow. At this time, the young man hauled off and punched Harry 4 times in the abdomen. The young man would later claim he thought Harry had prepared himself, but obviously he had not.
Harry was in terrible pain, but the show must go on; the performer believed that the pain would subside, but it did not. Soon a high grade fever came, and a few days after the incident Harry was told the fever was from appendicitis. He was instructed to go to the hospital immediately, but he had a show that night; again the show must go on, even with a fever of 104°. Halfway through his performance, Harry had to stop; he was physically unable to continue. As soon as the curtain closed, Harry fell and had to be physically carried back to his dressing room.
Harry put off going to hospital till the next morning; doctors tried to do an emergency appendectomy, but it was too late as it had already ruptured. The great Harry Houdini passed away on Halloween of 1926, and his funeral was held on November 4th. More than two thousand people traveled from fear and wide to pay their last respects attended; Harry is buried in Queens, New York.