Lovecraft, Eddy and possibly Houdini’s Last Letter
According to Kalush:
In Providence, the next stop of the tour [Oct 4-9], Houdini and Bess went to dinner with H.P. Lovecraft and Clifford Eddy Jr. Both men were working on a book for Houdini called “The Cancer of Superstition” but Eddy was also an undercover operative for Houdini, filing many field reports on his visits to fraudulent mediums.
Shortly after meeting with Eddy and Lovecraft, Bess was stricken with a non-specific form of poisoning, probably from food. Houdini immediately summoned Sophie Rosenblatt, a nurse who had worked for the family previously; but by Friday, October 8, Bess’s condition had deteriorated so badly that Houdini stayed up all night comforting her. She improved a little the next day, which was the last day of the run, so Houdini arranged for her and Sophie to leave straight for Albany, the next tour stop, while he took a late train to New York, where he had meetings scheduled for Sunday [Oct 10].
When the meetings concluded, he checked in with Rosenblatt in Albany and decided to postpone his train back. At some point after midnight, Houdini called his friend Joe Dunninger, the mentalist [to pick him up in the car]
“I’ve seen my house for the last time, Joe. I’ll never see my house again.”
According to Koval:
- Oct 4-9: Providence Opera House, Providence, RI
- Oct 11-13: Capital Theatre in Albany. Houdini suffers a broken ankle [Oct 11 according to Wissner]
- Oct 14-16: Van Curler Theatre Schenectady, NY
- Oct 18-23: Princess Theatre, Montreal, Canada”
- Oct 22: Houdini is struck in stomach [and sends a letter to Mr. Eddy]
- Oct 24 (only): Garrick Theatre, Detroit, MI Houdini collapses after his show.
- Oct 31: Houdini dies
According to a short letter in Fred Pittella’s collection, dated October 22 and sent from Shubert-Princess Theatre to Mr. Eddy in Providence R.I.:
My dear Eddy:
On account of accident which has laid me up, I cannot do much writing.
Will answer in detail from Detroit.
Sincerely yours, Houdini.
I find it interesting he uses the word “accident” and that “on account of accident“, Houdini can’t do much writing [about the Cancer book], but feels he will be able to “answer in detail from Detroit” where he was scheduled to perform at the Shubert-Garrick Theatre the weeks of October 24 and November 2nd.
Is he talking about the accident in Albany or Montreal?
Note: Houdini’s untimely death on October 31, 1926 derailed the plans for the Cancer of Superstition book, as his widow Bess did not wish to pursue the project. That said, parts do survive. In 1966, Lovecraft’s detailed synopsis for “The Cancer of Superstition” and “The Genesis of Superstition” part written by Eddy was first published. Future posts will describe these and evidence of additional parts that survive.
Special Thank You to Fred Pittella for allowing me to share the contents of a historic letter dated Oct 22, 1926 from his personal collection.
- Kalush – The Secret Life of Houdini
- Koval – The Illustrated Research Diary
- Pittella Collection – Letter from Houdini to Eddy dated October 22, 1926
- Wissner – The Houdini Correspondence File