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Joe Posnanski on Harry Houdini's Enduring Magic

Kickass News

1:00:21 hr | 1 year ago

Joe Posnanski on Harry Houdini's Enduring Magic

"This is kick ASS news. I'm Ben Mathis I. I'm Ben Mathis William to kick ASS News Harry. Houdini say his name and a number of things. Come to mind. Escapes Allusions Magic chains safes live. Burials close to a century after his death nearly every person in America knows his name from my young age capturing their imaginations with his death defying stunts and daring acts. One of those kids was bestselling sports writer. Joe Poznansky and now. He writes about the magician and his cadre of Modern Day followers in his new book. Titled the Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini and today Joe Joins me on the podcast to recall delving into the rabbit hole of Harry Houdini. He's legendary life and separating fact from the fiction invented by Houdini and his his followers. Joe Discusses the famous handcuffs that Harry. Houdini almost couldn't get out of some of the most bizarre things. People challenged him to escape including everything from a giant envelope to a giant football and how when audiences began to lose interest. Houdini upped the ante with increasingly more dangerous escapes. He explains why many people falsely believe that the magician died performing one of his most famous tricks. And we talk about the secret code. That who Dini's widow Oh. Bess used to try to make contact with him. From beyond the grave. Joe also gives us entree into the world of Dini super fans from the couple who committed a crime Anton or their hero to the mysterious man who calls himself Houdini ghost plus he reveals. What is like in David Copperfield's private magic warehouse in in Vegas some of the Turner? The century's most bizarre sideshow acts and his daughter's favorite Houdini revenge story coming up with Joe. Poznansky eh in just a moment and Cajole Poznansky is a national columnist for NBC sports and was a senior writer at sports illustrated from two thousand nine. To twenty twelve. He was named National Sportswriter of the a year by the sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of fame and was twice named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors he's the author of four books including the Number One New York Times bestseller paternal and now he's out with his latest book titled The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini. Joe Welcome to the PODCAST. Thank you thanks for having me. Well Joe I have been a magic fan ever since I was a kid performing in my parents backyard so this book was a really really refund read for me but it's a little bit of a departure for you. It would seem because here you are. You're a sports guy and usually there's not much overlap in the Vin Diagram of sports fans and magic agic fans. Where does your interest in Harry? Houdini come from yeah. It's funny leering. You give you that very nice introduction. I was sitting there thinking. Wow how did that guy and bring writing a book about Harry Houdini. There is a little crossover. Okay so for me it. No there isn't you're you're one hundred percent right in fact what are the magicians who's is in the book Joshua J. says that in the Ven Diagram between magic and sports it's him like he's the only person in that little sliver so so you're one hundred percent right but I wanted to write this book about wonder. I had this idea that we you know we used to and when I say we I mean people you know in in. Houdini is time and babe. Ruth's time they used to really enjoy. You know wonder and this idea of this. There are things things that are impossible and beyond belief and so on and you know guy like Babe Ruth was bigger. I think than any athlete could ever be today. Hey you know Babe Ruth used to. They used to tell stories of being on the train and sports writers following him and then in sports writers would be playing cards and Babe Ruth would run through through the train and then he'd be chased by half naked woman with a knife and and the sports writers would like all look at each other and they'd say okay. WHO's dealing next? Because they weren't going to write eight about it you know they weren't going to actually tell anybody and I don't think in the age of twitter at that would play in today's world so so I thought you know there's so much that we've gain but what have we lost and to me. You know you talk about wonder you're talking about magic and you talk about magic. You're talking about Harry. Houdini and and here here we are you know. Today is Halloween so we are you know ninety three years after his death. And here's this guy who still lasts. You know people still care hear about it. Know about and and talk about and You know I I. When I started writing the book I I had a Google News? Alerts set up for every time. Houdini he's name was mentioned in a paper anywhere or online or whatever. The case may be and every single day every single day since I started the book. There's something thing usually ten things or things that mentioned Houdini whether it's in politics and and some politician escaped a crisis or a sports moment where You know quarterback escaped a sack or or just you know life moment where a dog keeps escaping from a yard. Houdini is still so much with us and I was. Why what is it about this guy that that still stays with us? You know so many years later and and so there is. It started in some weird way with sports but but it definitely led to this whole new world that I knew absolutely nothing about which was which was wonderful. And it's funny that you mentioned Babe Ruth because as you know I said that there wasn't much overlap. But in some ways Houdini fans sort of resemble baseball fans in that they never saw him perform live. They probably never saw a movie of his act in the same way that most modern baseball fans never saw ty Cobb or Jackie Robinson play but they love the stories. It's all about telling these legends. Isn't it absolutely right. It's so funny among baseball fans. There's there's the famous called shot that Babe Ruth supposedly hit against the cubs where he pointed pointed In the world series and then hit a home run to the spot where he pointed. And there's like this grainy homemade footage and you can't can't really tell anything it looks like Babe. Ruth is maybe in the in the photo but it's in the so hard to tell and yet that is still a legend that people tell to this day. We we don't don't even know if it's real we don't even know if it's true and in that's the perfect an analogy to to Houdini who did all of these amazing escapes. You know some of them famous in in the way that you know the water torture salary or the MIRA cops might be famous and so many of them mm-hmm which he did one time in town because the towns you know carpenters decided to build a box that would hold houdini prisoner or in Chicago Kaga. They put him inside a football to try to get out of this. So all of these wonderful things that were one time only for a very small audience comparatively speaking thing and yet we're still talking about it and I think that was the it's the power of escape. It's the power of his showmanship But I think it's also just our hunger anger for for these kinds of wonderful stories and mysteries like you mentioned in. It's interesting that he's become such a part of our culture because it's not like there weren't other famous magicians Russians in Houdini zero like Howard Thurston and Keller etc yet. Somehow no one outside of hardcore magic fans remember those names or even other celebrities of of the day like Al Jolson. But everyone's still knows Houdini. It's exactly right and you as a as someone who has you know has had a life interest in magic knows that not not only was there Thurston Kellar and and and so many others. They were better than Houdini. You know I mean. Houdini was was not a great magician. Addition an escape artist he was he was a showman. He was someone who who kept finding new ways to sort of pare escape in danger and and he captured the imagination but he wasn't a great card magician or a great sleight of hand magician or someone who did these wonderful illusions the way that that Thurston dead and yet he was so good at building the legend of himself building this larger than life figure that he has blotted all all of them out and blotted out many magicians today. Like if if you ask somebody who's the most famous magician in the world they might say David Copperfield and they might say David Blaine. They they might say Penn and teller and that's about it or they're going to say Houdini because because even now he he still manages the sort of blood out all the other the competition and and somehow be at the top which you know knowing who Dini's ego and ambition and drive would undoubtedly hardly make him very very happy and have to imagine that Houdini must have been a difficult subject to look into because there are so many different versions of the man so many rabbit holes roles and stories that turned out not to be true or can't be verified. Did it make for frustrating research process. It's interesting because I write about a guy named Ken Silverman. Who wrote I think what what most people inside of magic would still consider the the the best Houdini biography ever? You know the one that that really tried to separate fact and fiction and myth and truth and all of these things. I came at it from a very different perspective which made what what would have been a frustrating thing. If I was trying to write a straight biography of Houdini. That would've frustrated me to no end like you hear this great story and and okay. I'm writing at Minot. No it wasn't wasn't true but for me. The the lies and the myths and the misdirection. It was part of the story. You know I it was it. It was fun for me to find out. This is actually true because because even though it wasn't true it's a story that that built his legend built historian and my book is is really about. You know wonder today and and what. Houdini teaches us about that. And about all of these people whose lives were were altered by him and changed by him and inspired by him and so so all of these great stories like one of my favorite points of the book is. There's a very famous story of Houdini performing for the czar in Russia right And and supposedly he said you. Can you know. Ask Me for anything and as I said can you make the bells of the Kremlin ring again. They have not wrong for more than a century. Can you make them ring again. And Houdini went to the window and did did some sort of Majesty Hocus pocus move waved of anchor. Jeff and the bells of the Kremlin rang and a story. Is that Houdini. He's wife. BESS had a little air gun that she shot at the bell to make them ring again. It is entirely untrue. From from the very beginning of the story he did not perform for like nothing about that story is true. But that story was invented by Orson Welles the the the the great film director so too so on the one hand. You're like Oh that can't tell that story and then on the other hand not only can tell it but I can tell that Houdini you you know his his power was so great that he inspired one of the Great Film Directors of All Time Twenty five years after who staff to invent this beautiful story of Houdini fooling the the czar of Russia. And it's it's you know that that to me was so much. Fun was not only getting into the mess because I tell them you know as many of them as I can in this book there but I'd never tell you you know that I tell you right away. I never tell you that it's the truth. I always say you know this. This is this is mythology and that actually very interestingly for me as a writer for you as a as a creator it offered an opportunity to do something which I've I've always wanted to do which was try to write magically try to create a little a little allusion a little magic trick. There's there are a couple of chapters in particular that I love because there's a there's a there's a beginning there's a middle. There's an just like the great magic trick. There's there's suspense expense. And then and then what you think is real and then what is actually real and You know Houdini was the ideal subject to try that kind of writing. Yeah Yeah. It's amazing that Houdini wasn't just reinventing his own story but now he's inspired other people to reinvent his story and I think I remember that story of Tim Making the the bells at Saint Basil's ring from the Adrian Brodie mini series on history channel. So that's totally untrue and yet included in the movie movie Yeah and I and I understand it because it's such a good story that you want to film it. You WanNa put it on you know and they did include it as as included a lot of other myths by the way and then minister is but it's but it's wonderful to see and you know to have not only you know his wife and and his friends and other people sort of invent these legends about him like the probably. Everybody has heard the legend that houdini would get Outta straitjackets by dislocating dislocating. His shoulder. Right that is. That's like a big Houdini. It's totally untrue. And and but it was. It was something people said while Houdini meaney was alive and Houdini loved it. He loved that people because he didn't actually come up with that somebody else did and and they said. Is it true Mr Houdini that you escaped by Dislo. The escape by dislike any of your shoulder and Houdini was like I'll never tell right. I mean he'll he he just played it off and and yeah I mean he created so much of his own myth but he really did inspire other people to add chapters to it and and some of the most famous chapters are not Houdini inventions engines. There there are other people who came up with now. I WanNa talk about Houdini. Early days. you say in here that he overlapped with and worked with a lot of sideshow performers early on and some of these acts are pretty funny. What were some of your favorites? Well my favorite one is is one that again. Maybe a myth but it's one that Houdini specifically really Talked about and that was a woman whose entire act was getting bitten by rattlesnakes. And and that's wall. She would do. She would like go on stage. She I have the rattlesnake Like a rabbit and kill it like that was that was like to sort of like the this is a rattlesnake and then the rows think would bite her and she'd be fine and like she would do this multiple times and I thought well that's first of all. Well what a talent right now yes to to be able to get bit by rattlesnakes continuously But that's that's where he was. That was the world that he lived in. You know he lived Dan the world where they would have cowboy ban the the cowboy who can play piano that would be an opening act or Houdini would open for him. I I mean. This was at a time when Houdini was was was really unknown so so he would do these things for people who had odd. You know the the bearded lady and the giant man and you know these kinds of sideshow performers but also all kinds of weird. I mean it was really fun. My one there's A. There's about a two page section in the book that you've you alert alluded to where I just listed off a bunch of these you know wonderful crazy the yodelers and and and and people that You know one person like there was somebody he got into a fight with that. We bought a gun. I mean this was it was such Chubb Ragtag Dangerous. You know world that he lived in and he was making no money and he was just basically trying to figure out how to how to you you know even stay on the road because he he had one great track which has metamorphosis where he would he would have a partner who will get locked into the trunk and and tied up and then and then put in a bag and then put in a trunk and then Houdini would say count with me one to throw no. Houdini would with start in. Excuse me he would start in the trunk and then his assistant would go kalemie. One two three and on three the assistant would disappear and Houdini would would appear in in their place and and and you know it was a big Big Hit for a while but you need more than one trick to sort make a living at this thing so tried all kinds of stuff. He tried comedy. He tried music he was he was trying to be an actor. I mean he tried all sorts of stuff because he he was running out of Running out of real estate I guess on on his on his magic stop until the point where he almost quit where in eighteen ninety eight. He tried to sell all of his secrets secrets and and nobody bought. And that's that's where he was. He was at a point where he was a magician. WHO nobody even wanted to secrets? And and and Surrounded by all of these sideshow performers. So then what was the big break for Harry Houdini to but but the biggest break for sure was very shortly shortly just months after he. He put out his Cadillac to sell all of his tricks. He he went back on the road. And it was kind of finishing out a couple of of you know Previous engagements and he was in Minnesota. And a man named Martin back who was a a big a big guy in Broadway. I mean in Vaudeville advil. At the time he he was someone who owned who the orpheum circuit there were theaters called orpheum which they're still signed today. And I think there's still a Martin Beck Theater on Broadway. Isn't there that that is correct later. On after after the whole Houdini Seen Martin Beck built the biggest brought Vaudeville stage in in in history on in New York and you know it was the palace theater and it was gonna be this this larger than life thing and to this day There's there's a Martin Beck Theatre in New York. So he was. He was a big guy he was still he was still a developing. You know he wasn't. He wasn't the 'cause later he become the biggest guy in Broadway but he was still big and he came to see Houdini and thought he saw something. He was as a talent scout and he was a very talented guy and finding new acts and he. You called. Houdini went to dinner with Houdini. And Bass's wife and said I'm going to be with you. Drop the magic. The magic is not working for you. Do you your birds and your cards and nobody cares. Everybody does that but stick with the handcuffs stick with the escape like that is your ticket get is is people are so taken by your ability to escape from any situation. That's your future and Houdini rebelled at that. At first he was a big big magic fan. You know his name is he named himself after after the Great Magician Robeiro don where he added an eye to the end of O'Donnell and became Houdini so he he didn't WanNa do it at first but then he realized I have no money. I've jobs it's Martin Beck. And he he started to do it and almost instantly became a bit of a sensation. Which is you know just tells you that? He was obviously very good at what he did and he was great showman and he just needed a break and Martin becky from the break. The second one is is about a year later after a very successful tour on on Vaudeville. He went to England. Basically with nothing no bookings No reputation he went to England because he'd seen a couple of other people make it big there and through. His sort of personal genius is his ability to to promote himself like nobody ever had and And a few good escapes. He became the biggest thing in Europe and then came back to the states. And and you know at that point became you know maybe the biggest star on Vaudeville and I think that this is the time when he gets introduced to soar Arthur CONAN doyle right. It is right around that time crowds of kind of surprised to read that. You're not very interested in Houdini. Later battles to expose the phony spiritualists than his relationship with doyle. Why not what's not to love about that and yeah I do love it? I just don't love it the same way that I love the magic. You know the to me. The the the point of this book was always about this about wonder. And and you know I talk about the spiritualism of bit and a little bit about his his fight with Arthur Conan conon doyle and and you know Dini's the very famous Time that WHO that Arthur CONAN doyle's wife did a seance to try to connect Houdini with his late mother. Who is his his life and you know she was? She was the most important person to him in his life right and and and then she wrote this long letter that she said was from. Houdini is mother and it had a cross at the top of it and who. DV A a father was rabbi so basically putting across on the top of a rabbi's wife. Is Houdini thought. Wow this isn't super real. And and undoubtedly had some impact on him and his later fights with with spiritualism but I I wanted to tell some of that story. 'cause it's important but I didn't I feel like for me because this is such a personal book and and and it's such a such a fun opportunity to to tell great escape stories and tell stories stories about magicians today and magic today and all of that that I didn't want to veer too far off course and I felt like spiritualism was just a little bit out of bounds for me. Well the Houdini was a consummate master of publicity and he had this thing where he would invite the police or lock makers or everyday people in every town that he visited to actually challenge him to escape say their local jail or safe etcetera. What were some of the more exotic challenges that you love? Oh I loved so many of them because every town was different you know he he would like he would go to Pittsburgh and then the Nurses Association would had an escape where they tied hide him to a hospital bed right. So it's like you would go to a beer You know a a place where a beer distributor wanted to put him inside of milk canned filled with beer a year and he would go to mention the football that he had to escape from in Chicago and and You know everywhere he went. It was something different and and and and you know. His only sort of exception was that he said you had to give me twenty four hours with whatever contraption you you built or whatever handcuffs you plan on using so that I can. You know. Make sure that they're legitimate. Of course what he was saying was so that me and my team can configure out how to get out. I mean right so so lots and lots of boxes. That was the big the big thing people would create boxes and they would do super long nails. AOL's so that there was no way for him to hammers way out or they would you know put inside of a glass case. He was put inside of an envelope was put inside of a mail bag. I mean it's so it's so funny to think that you know something like this could survive now but but there he was and it was very personal. That was I think a big part of his of of his huge success was this was. This was before everything right as before radio much less television or or any kind of social media so so he came to your town. It was a big deal especially after he got six was successful and then he would say hey be near the newspaper office office downtown at noon and I'm going to hang upside down from five stories above the ground and escape from a straitjacket and it's free it's totally free. It's just come downtown. And thousands and thousands and thousands of people would come and they would see Houdini do that and of course you know. This was all promotion for people to come news shows. But that's why more people saw Houdini than anybody of his time because he would come and not just perform warm on stage which was one thing but he would do. These bridge jumps where he would jump into the river off off of bridge while wearing handcuffs or he would do this buried alive escape or he would do this You know. The the upside down Straitjacket escape and that was just to promote the name of Houdini and and so you know he he. He was undoubtedly seen by more people than ever. I think any performer had ever been seen before. We're going to take a quick break. And then we'll be back with more with Joe Poznansky when we come back in just a moment. Today's episode is brought to you by Kronos. Kronos knows that for many organizations maintaining a modern workforce of hourly full or part time workers can be a challenge orange. This is especially true for human resources professionals working hard to attract and retain all of the best talent that's why Cronos puts HR payroll erol talent and timekeeping on a single cloud based platform. It's one is specially designed to give. 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That's AV A. L. A. R. A. dot com slash kick have Lara tax compliance. Done right and now back back to the show and I wanna ask you about. Probably his most difficult challenge a newspaper man in the UK challenges him to who escaped from the specially designed handcuffs called the mirror cuffs. which supposedly no-one could get out of what made these especially difficult and to this day I guess no one knows how he escaped them? What's your best? Guess yes. Well it's it's a super fun part of the buckets. It's like a whole section of the book right. I go through people's theories so these handcuffs. The story was that this this this this reporter at the Daily Mirror. That's why they're called the mirror. Cops went all all around the country to find these most inescapable handcuffs and found a locksmith and in Birmingham who said that he had taken five five years to build these handcuffs. That could not be packed and cannot be escaped from and the thing. That's that's sort of unique. There's a lot of still exist there in David Copperfield's for Field Private Museum in Las Vegas. So they I've seen them. They're beautiful their one piece but the thing that makes them special is it takes a long key probably ably eight inches long to open them and in order to open them. What you have to do is you have to put the long key into this big? Lock this side lock and then you you have to turn it like five or six or more different ways you have to. It doesn't just turn and open. You have to turn and then turn it back and then turn it forward and turn it back and there's no way to pick them especially. There's no way to get the the pick into the lock while you're handcuffed by them because it's because it's such a long key so this was the challenge and Houdini made a very big deal about not wanting to take it and then he went on the stage and was on stage and he. He went behind his his curtain. He had a little place he called. It goes box and try to get out. He came out and everybody cheered and he was still had the handcuffs on and so he explained he needed some help needed to see some light or something and then he went back in and then came out and everybody cheered and Lisa. My legs are hurting me. And so they bring him a pillow to to stay in the thing and he goes back in any comes back out a third time and says I'm very rewarm. Can you unlock the handcuffs. So I can take my jacket off and and the the guy reports no. I'm not going to do that. You know you've seen them leap lock. You've never seen them on locked. I'm not going to give you that. And Houdini. Without even hesitating sort of reached into his coat pocket with his teeth and pulled out a a penknife and started like pulled his coat over his head somehow and slashed with his penknife and the toward the jacket off of his body. Wow using this pen knife. which itself is an amazing magic trick by the way and the crowd goes crazy just crazy and this has been forty five minutes already of of nothing happening essentially so they go absolutely crazy and then twenty minutes later he came out and he was free and the place went? You know insane and they carried great him on their shoulders and he talked about the greatest thing he'd ever done. And the you know the mirrored the Daily Mirror reporter conceded defeat and it was this big moment and it was and it was played up quite big because because it was a newspaper reporter who issued the challenge so So all the fleet street papers were there and it was. You know it's it's it's it's by far. I think the most recorded of all of Houdini he's Trucks and yet as you mentioned hundred fifteen years later or so. We still don't know we don't know how he did it. Everybody in magic has a theory about it and I write about a bunch of those different theories and then and at the end. I couldn't help myself because this book has as it doesn't reveal. How did things and if people want to know how he did things there you know there are plenty of places places out there you can find how he escaped from the Milken or whatever But I had to throw my own opinion so my own opinion not to ruin it for for people but is that the whole thing was a setup by any yeah and and that he he. You know quite brilliantly invented wanted this story and but there's there's a there's there's only one way that I could see how he pulled it off which is more interesting to me than the fact that it was a sad upper Nada setup There's only one way I think he could have pulled off and I'm not gonNa tell people that hopefully they'll read the book and and see how. How did it at least how I think? It's hard to imagine people today sitting in a theater and waiting while someone behind a curtain tried to escape something for forty five. You imagine it. Ah That's one of the wonderful things about Houdini to me is everything he did. If you take two steps back it's ridiculous you know what I mean. It's like in the moment but here here. He comes out and he goes look. This is a water torture. Sal that I built myself and I invented and now I'm going to go in and I and I'm going to escape I'm like well of course you are. You build the thing I mean. It doesn't that doesn't seem to make a Lotta Sense. And and this was exactly the same thing he would come out with handcuffs. He'd he'd never would do handcuff escapes in public. He would always do them in his little in his little box. So could you imagine today he like somebody saying okay. I'M GONNA escape from handcuffs. Hold on I'll be right back and then you go into a box. And then he'd come out and handcuffs off. I mean that would not exactly play and and it's you know there would people would wait for twenty minutes half hour forty five minutes an hour you know and some of these escapes staring at nothing just listening to a band play music and just staring at a curtain hoping you'll come out and and yet the tension was so thick and the the nerves were were so frayed that they're all kinds of stories of people in the crowd crying just so they're so freaked out that he's going to die particularly with the water illusions that he was going to die or he wasn't going to get out there they were going to see the one time that Harry Houdini failed and and And he really played up on that. And that's not working today now. Yeah and I guess it's around Midlife. When he starts to worry that his star is fading and that's when he decides to literally we started escaping death with the water torture cell and other tricks? That you've mentioned tricks where he would die if he couldn't escape and they become increasingly more and more dangerous ece. There's almost a certain level of madness to this now. Oh absolutely there's madness and and and it's and it comes from a place of madness. which was that people? Were going to forget him The people are GONNA lose interest in him the that that was his sole fear. You know I mean He. He was not afraid of pain and he was not afraid of of Of of you know these these dangerous things that he did but he was afraid people are going to forget him he was afraid he was not gonna be famous anymore. He was not going to be have money anymore. I mean He. He grew up with nothing and he was so fearful that time would move on and he would end up being back where he started and so yeah he he you know they're they're wonderful wonderful as far as interesting Diary things that he would write he would say you know th they didn't show up for me and Saint Louis. Is this the end of Houdini. You know you would he he would have these very you know. I mean. There weren't public his diary. But he's very outward feelings of fear that that his time was going to pass and so he did he said okay. So what I need to do is this is turned in danger. You know because escaping from handcuffs while extraordinary you know. In in in in that time there was no threat you know there was no. It wasn't like he was gonNA stay in those handcuffs forever so he started with water and you know water was a very big thing. He was a swimmer He he really even before for. He started doing these kinds of escapes. He was fascinated by how long he can hold his breath. I mean this was a big part of his athletic talents and so he the milk was first where he just filled up at Cana. A milk in with water and he would go in and they would put the cover on after they filled it up to the top open and he would escape from from from the milken and then and then he had to do it upside down so that it was from the from the water torture. Sal But but as you said it's like all of these other crazy things the bridge jumps where he would you know jump into in a cold lakes cold rivers while wearing handcuffs officer being in a box or or whatever the case he he was you know buried alive bury me alive. He had he really did. Keep pushing the envelope because every moment he was like okay. People are going to grow used to this. They're going to tired of this. And what my next chapter. What's my next chapter? And he took that all the way to the end of his life. Yeah and a lot of people think that he actually died performing one of those tricks the Chinese water torture cell. But that comes from the Tony Curtis Houdini movie right. That's not true true. Yeah that's right you talk about legend and and how other people added to the legend. So the the movie the Tony Curtis movie in Nineteen fifty. Three three called. Houdini where Tony Curtis played. Houdini and Janet Lee Played His wife and she was his real wife. It was a big deal and it was a it was a big deal. In two the different time periods. It was a big deal in the fifties when it came out and then in the seventies had a second life like as it became the every Sunday you know it would be on television division basically and and so it it is really really influential and the director producer. Both of them. I thought that the way he really died. Which of course after getting punched in the stomach and and and having seitis and all of that that it was not worthy of hero as big as Houdini like I think the the line was you know Houdini was too much was too much of hero to die by getting punched in the stomach so they had him die in the water torture cell and for years and years and years ears. Everybody thought that's how he died. I mean it was it was pervasive. Yeah the one of the people I talked about in the book is a guy named John Cox. Who is the leading? Probably the lead leading. Houdini expert I think in the world And John Fell in love with Houdini after watching that movie but he soon found out that wasn't now he died and he he felt it was his personal mission in life to tell people that Houdini did not actually die in water torture. Solid people would argue with them. It's no no. That's exactly how he died and he used to carry a book around with them to show people that Houdini did not actually die in the water torture cell so so yeah that was You know yet. Another of the incredible myths that Houdini not invented did not create That that lived on way past in and here we talking on Halloween. The anniversary of his death For ten years. After Houdini died his wife. BESS would hold a seance and try to contact him from beyond the grave. Right as we mentioned. There were a lot of fraudulent mediums. So how would she know of. Houdini had really tried to contact her from the great beyond. Well she and and Houdini had created a code they. They called the Houdini Code that there were certain Series of words that he would say eh and and then he would say A Roosevelt believe. which was you? Know the the Related to the song that they that they share and and basically he. Houdini said if this is the code then you will know. It's me you'll you know because he knew you that that people were going to try to fake. You know Houdini coming back. He was so related to spiritualism and so on and so forth but then the whole thing kind of fell apart art because a medium did come back with the code which you know we later found out was essentially given to him by Bass and and the whole thing kind of turned into a a sad little moment of time because best came out in public and said Oh this is this is the real story. Houdini really has come back and then later that she had to say okay maybe not fair. Well the guy she we believe again. You might have one of the many things that you don't know. She definitely like them a lot. She definitely thought of him as a handsome handsome conman Whether or not they were actually having affairs is Is Up for debate. Eight but but But definitely some weird stuff but best the thing. This is a hugely important part of this story. I think if if ended up in for Bass those ten fifteen twenty years. After Houdini died he might very well have been forgotten. I mean he was very very famous and and and and a part of the language and all of those things but you know people fade. I mean the most famous people of his time like you mentioned Al Jolson and you know even Charlie Chaplin who who had such a long stretches is very much. You know In the background now Buster Keaton guys like that and and so she was relentless about her publicity relentless about the Houdini out relentless about getting a book written about him she was very much involved often in getting. The movie made So she she was someone who kept pushing and kept pushing and and I feel like she definitely bridged a very big gap and to until the movie came out and the movie was was very successful for about twenty years and then a whole bunch of other people took over and and and Dan continued to this day to to share his story. yeah and I WANNA talk about the Houdini fans in the time. We have left because this book is as much about them as it is about the man himself south. One one couple that you run into or Dick and Dorothy Dietrich who are too hard core fans. They built a Houdini museum in their hometown. And I gets the even committed a crime to honor their hero right. Yes that is correct. I'm actually going the the Houdini Museum in Scranton Pennsylvania which has no connection action whatsoever to Houdini other than I guess he he performed there maybe but that's their home town. They this Dorothy is actually kind of a legend understood her own right she is. She is a magician And you know in the seventies she. She got quite popular she. She was the first woman on television to to saw man in half. She kind of turned that all around she. Did the bullet catch she. Did you know various upside down straitjacket escapes. And she's actually the person that the Islah Fisher character in. Now you see me is based on so so she is. She has a real a real background in magic and then her husband Partner Partner Dick Brooks is this. You know very fascinating guy who also has had a long life and magic and they love Houdini. I mean love him obviously enough afteh build a museum in his honor and and yeah they what what happened was at Houdini gravesite. There is a bust of Houdini. He's had and Dan has been there since the beginning except every Halloween usually although it could be any time of the year people come in and they would steal the boss or they would or they would vandalize underlies the Boston. It got to the point where they basically said okay. You know what we're taking the bus away this is. This is only hurting so for many years is there was no Houdini. Bust at the at the place and and Dick. Dorothy did not like that and they did. They broke in to the cemetery and and put their own bust in there. They had specially made And you know they were caught. They did get caught and and the the the secretary of people let them do it. Because why wouldn't you at that point but that was that was their plan was to to seek really go in there and and return this Houdini bus due to the gravesite right. And there's also this elusive figure that you're sort of chased throughout the book Who Bills himself as Houdini? Ghost toward the end. You finally meet up with him at the Magic Nick Castle in La. What's he like? He is a true character just say his name is Pat Colloton and he is an actor was it's an actor and it still does some acting who had a very rough? You know you went to Vietnam and came back and like many many who went you. Know didn't find signed the same life for himself when he came back and acting jobs. Hard to come by and and he always loved Houdini and decided to start going around the country. Doing Lick circuits talking about Houdini. Doing a few of Houdini tricks called himself. Deans Ghost and as time kept going on ended on he. He started becoming this very. I mean legendary. Houdini expert and he put out these very odd but but but super interesting books about Houdini about his life about his secrets. And and they're they're impossible to get their impossible to find I only printed a few copies of each. And they're like these little bits of gold inside the world of Houdini and and and yeah. I felt like it was really important. Talk to him. He did not want to talk. And then I kind of warm down. I guess and and was able to meet with him at the Magic Castle L. A. which is this wonderful wonderful clubhouse of magic and And I wrote about him and I wrote about him. I think quite lovingly I I you know really moved by his story. Rian his life and his energy and his passion by we'll tell you he hates the book. I mean hates the your book. Yeah Oh hey why I mean I. It's it's why is a very difficult thing to come by. You know it. It says what are the most dishonest book ever written about. Houdini and I'm like well what's dishonest about. I can't tell you so and I think in a way that that that I I mean. Of course I wish he would liked it. I you know I. I've worked very hard to to make him come alive in and I wish you would have liked it but in a way it's better that he doesn't because he's there's so much of Houdini in him and there's no doubt my mind. Houdini would not like the book not because of of anything specific in the book but because he didn't write it you know what I mean. It's not it's not Houdini. Yeah and nothing nothing. Houdini hated more than imposters. Anybody trying to make a dime off of his name was was enemy number one and so you you know in a way. I kind of appreciate the Patrick. You know I think Patrick's like hey. I'm in this book but I didn't write it so I I understand that and I still love the Guy I I still love the guy now. If there's anyone who might be considered the successor to Houdini. I suppose it would probably be David Copperfield. You say in here that Copperfield in Houdini are nothing alike and entirely. Like what do you mean by that. Well there nothing alike in the way they perform their nothing alike in the way that they act. I mean they're they're very very different people. David Copperfield didn't even come from magic. You Know David Copperfield right was a prodigy right but he he love Broadway. He loved songs he loved movies. And and he you know he made his career on sort of building. Magic through those was things through the Lens of Broadway or or you know music and you know. Houdini was totally different in that way and they were totally different personalities personalities. David Copperfield is not the the bully that Houdini was or or you know he's not the they're they're just different. But then you step back and okay. David Copperfield changed his name. You know he's a young Jewish kid who fell in love with magic changed. His name became the world's biggest magician. And and there's a relentlessness to Houdini and Copperfield. That I don't think anybody else has because I think you can make pretty good argument in the magic world that the guy who was the direct descendant of Houdini is actually David Blaine right. David Blaine as does escapes. Right and crazy stunts and all all of this but copperfield works so hard even now use a billionaire and he owns like seven islands. And yet you go to Vegas on Christmas Week. He's doing three shows a day Christmas week. Wow in why in a what is it that drives and I. I thought to myself if I can figure out what it is. The drives David Copperfield to do that at a point in his life when he is you know the most successful guy I can figure out. Why Harry Harry Houdini when he was the most famous magician escape artist performer? Maybe in the world why he still despite despite you know being an agonizing pain refusing to to get off the stage in Detroit Because the show must go on and so so so to me that there's a connection there that that is obvious you know the the two guys who changed their name and became world famous magicians. And then there's some drive and ambition that those two people have that I think is is less obvious but but every bit as interesting. Yeah I can definitely see that connection of that need need to constantly be one upping yourself and doing something new to keep people interested because it makes me think of you know when he vanished a jet and then after canister jet he had take the statue of liberty disappear. It's just getting bigger and bigger. Yeah it was it was. It's an endless. It's it's you'll never do. I think in magic. You'll never do the perfect perfect delusion right you'll never there's always something better something bigger something better something more amazing something more impossible and I think both of them have been searching. I don't think both of them live on the stage in a way that's different. From the way they live the rest of their lives. And then there's just something else that's very difficult difficult to capture about both of them. You know I think. Houdini spent his whole life building. Houdini making Houdini something bigger and grander than anything. That had ever come before him. And I think there's a little bit of an Copperfield too. I mean he's he's he's got this incredible Museum Private Museum in Las Vegas which was kind enough to let me tour and and you know it's it's it's a magic trick all its own. I mean it's it's the most extraordinary thing it's like walking into his mind and you know he loves that it's beautiful. He loves that and then and he's performing you know a completely new act in Vegas which involves an alien and and so on trying to find new ways to to to push magic and I think that they connect that way. I think they connect and that there was never enough. There's there's always something more and they're never gonNA stop chasing and I'm so jealous that you actually got to visit his warehouse because David Copperfield. He has this almost legendary magic collection that I think is the biggest in the world of private collection that he houses in this warehouse in Vegas and in my imagination. I'm sorta picturing something like the closing scene from raiders of the lost Ark or. Something is that about right and what kind of stuff that is about right. It's it's the most extraordinary place I've I've ever been in. Its own way you walk in. And there's a perfect representation of his father's store men's store in New Jersey. It's it's exactly you know shirt for shirt like Like that Men's store in New Jersey. And then you go to the back and my time because I think he's changed a lot you go to the back and you pull a tie and the whole back wall opens up and then and then you're in the world's is greatest collection of intrinsic quist dummies. Because he started off as a ventriloquist. Wow and and it's creepy and weird but but interesting and then you walk into one of the world's largest Broadway collections because of his love for Broadway and then a huge movie collection whereas all kinds of all kinds of posters sisters but also you know bits of sets from different movies and then the magic is you know. It's it's beyond belief. I mean from from the world's most extensive of Magic Library to posters and and and and props of every great magician you know through through route's two centuries and then on top of that. He has the world's largest Houdini collection which is which is the most cherished part of all so he has the water torture cell and he has the mirror coughs and he has all of these handcuffs and keys and posters and letters and everything else. It's the kind of place where at some point the producer. His producer took me to a back room where he was gonNA show me some other things and it wasn't for public view is just like a little back room. There was a couch there and a table. Just ratty old little place And a lamp and as we're leaving the showed me the letters he wanted to show me. We're leaving you said whole field. This and he reached buying a lamp and pulled out an academy award. And I'm like what. And he handed to me and he said feel heavy. This is is this really heavy. Like it's amazing that they're on stage and the Handyman Oscar and and and it's so heavy I can't believe more people don't drop them and I'm like Oh that's interesting. Yeah and and then he puts it back behind the lamb and we get ready to leave. That's it like the this is. Nobody will ever see Davis. It's nothing and so we're walking out and I said well you guys you question. He's like. Yeah who's Oscar. Is that back there in the middle middle of nowhere behind a lamp and he says you know what I don't even know and go back and he pulls out the Oscar and it's the Oscar of that Richard critise he's won for directing Casablanca. Oh my God and I thought the the directors Oscar for Casablanca The one of the great movies ever made is like in this storage room in the back. I mean that's that's the kind of museum this place says it was. It was dizzying. Absolutely Disney what before we go. I know that you've apparently passed down your love for Harry. Houdini to the next generation in your family you say that your daughter shares. You're interested in Houdini and particularly Houdini. Revenge stories right. It is true my oldest daughter who gave me the hardest time during during this book because she just constantly was. I feel like we're haunted by this guy. This guy won't go away and and and and you know but but it all along sort of showing little interest in a little A little bit of fun and and and Kinda getting into it a little bit more and more and more and you know but she's still never stop giving me a hard time about it but then I started telling her Houdini revenge stories and you know my favorite one is he was on and to our and and he he heard about a guy who called himself Cla Pini and who is doing his act and it's so enraged them that he went to the head ahead of the tour and said listen. I'm taking off the next three days. I mean they'll deem you never did. I said I'm taking off the next three days. You'RE GONNA have to cancel those shows or I'll do them at the end but but I'm leaving and he laughed and he went and found this very by the way. Let's say very obscure magician mission escape apologists. who was doing no business? You know he was. He was nobody but he went there. Dressed up like an old man and then Clinton I need you know did his his bit and then he said. Is there anybody in the audience. Who wants to challenge me and Houdini comes out dressed up like oh man when he walks with a cane and he says I they WanNa challenge you and and he pulls out these handcuffs and he puts them on companion as soon as he puts them on he tears off his is his costume and says the audience go home now for no man who Harry? Houdini locks in a chains ever escapes and everybody goes crazy and Capino is finished and of course he couldn't get out and and that's the story. It's so of all of the Houdini stories that I told my daughter. That was the one that she the law like. She'd love like tell me more revenge stories by Houdini so so she like the dark side of Houdini. Yes well again. The book is called the life and afterlife of Harry. Houdini Joe Poznansky. Thanks so much for talking with me thank you. This was great. Thanks again to Joe Poznansky for coming on the PODCAST. Quarter his new book. The life and afterlife of Harry Houdini on Amazon audible or wherever books Sir sold he brought with him at Joe Poznansky dot com or on twitter at at J. Poznansky folks. I've been a small business owner the for just about twenty years now so I know how easy it is to waste a lot of time trying to keep up with taxes and tax laws are so complicated at the end of the day. You still might like get it wrong so stop wasting valuable time worrying about your sales tax returns and focus on the things that you actually love about running your business with a little help from from avalon. Cavallero simplifies sales tax compliance with real time rates and automatic filing their software seamlessly integrates with the systems. You're already already using so it couldn't be easier go to avalon. Aba L. A. R. A. DOT COM slash kick to learn more have a larum tax compliance. Done right today's episode is brought to you by Kronos Cronos provides HR solutions for the modern workforce in the people who support important motivated engage them they put hr payroll talent and timekeeping on a

Harry Harry Houdini Houdini meaney David Copperfield Houdini museum Houdini gravesite Babe Ruth football Dini Cajole Poznansky Dan Bess writer Al Jolson David Blaine Vegas twitter Russia NBC
Best of 2019: Fatal Familial Insomnia Pt. 1

Medical Mysteries

49:32 min | 1 year ago

Best of 2019: Fatal Familial Insomnia Pt. 1

"Welcome to our cast presents. The Best of two thousand nineteen we have for you. The most requested stood episodes of medical mysteries from this year. For more great episodes you may have missed subscribe to medical mysteries. Listen free on spotify and anywhere anywhere you listen to podcasts. In the northeast corner of Italy lies veto a land of Valleys Hills rivers and the world famous Venetian lagoon where the capital city of Venice floats for generations. This place fostered families in the face of Plagues World Wars and revolutions but for one family. The land seemed more cursed than blessed in the summer of two thousand one. The many branches of this sprawling family family tree converged at a single home over fifty people in total some knew each other. Well while others were just Distant relatives this was a reunion of sorts but celebration was not in the cards over. The past asked three hundred years. The family line had been plagued by mysterious and terrible symptoms endless insomnia hallucinogenic nick madness and premature. Death had claimed generations with no clear medical answer until now a woman stood good before the family and called them to attention while her size didn't command the room. Her desperate voice did as did. Her is tired not yet from insomnia but from years of searching for the truth her name was Lisi alongside her husband in Yoshio Jio. She told her relatives that the time had come to address the family curse they were not dealing with bad luck or supernatural literal phenomena but a concrete biological disease and after years of being brushed off by medical professionals. It was time time for the family to take matters into their own hands. When our bodies fail we trust doctors to diagnose the problem but medicine isn't always an exact science sometimes? It's a guessing game with life or death stakes. This is medical mysteries. Akhar cast original. I Mali and I'm Richard. Every Tuesday will look at the strangest real-life medical cases in history and the experts who raced against the clock to solve them as we follow. These high intensity stories will explore medical research. That might solve the puzzle next week. In part two will analyze. He's all the evidence and try to find an answer. You can find episodes of medical mysteries and all other podcast originals for free on spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream medical mysteries for free on spotify. Just open the APP and type medical mysteries in the search bar at par cast most. Were grateful for you our listeners. You allow us to do what we love. Let us know how we're doing reach out on facebook and Instagram at at park cast and twitter at podcast network. This is our first episode on the still incurable syndrome. That came to be known as fatal familial insomnia and the anonymous Italian family. That's been haunted by this mysterious disease. For centuries this week we'll trace the family's troubled history history from the pre Napoleonic canals of Venice to twentieth century Patois as successive generations tried and failed to understand their biological eagle curse next week will explore the discovery that revolutionized the study of infection and learn how fatal familial insomnia fits inside a much larger and deadlier paradigm of diseases than anyone could have an edge and we cannot help but sleep we can try to avoid as many a procrastinating teenager or anxious warrior has attempted opted. But we will always fail eventually it might take a few minutes or a few hours but that familiar heaviness behind the islands conventionally speaks up but what if sleep didn't return to you after a long day of work. What if no matter how you twisted and turned in your sheets? No matter how much your body ached and longed for it no matter how strange your thoughts became rest never arrived the national heart lung and blood institute connect sleep deprivation to a myriad of neurological and physical health problems. Your sleep deficient. You may have trouble making decisions solving problems controlling your emotions and behavior and coping with change sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression suicide and risk taking behavior when you sleep. Your body engages in a process of physical healing deep sleep triggers the release of hormones that repair tissues and muscles without the proper amount of deep sleep. Those hormones hormones become unbalanced the immune system weakens and heart disease diabetes and even the common cold have a better chance of overtaking. The body writing in scientific American professor of Psychiatry. Jay Christian Gillan addressed the question. How long can we stay awake before we die why? The answer isn't straightforward the official record for sleeplessness was one in nineteen sixty five by the teenager. Randy Andy Gardner. Who stayed awake for over eleven days for a school science fair? He was back to normal after one or two days of recovery sleep but often often even when a person doesn't reach full sleep. They aren't exactly awake either. As an example suffers of Marvin Syndrome which causes extreme stream muscle twitching often never enter a deep period asleep however in one case of Marvins Syndrome researchers observed that the subject still new entered an hour long hallucinatory stage each night the afflicted members of the Venetian family were discussing today. Would most likely relate eight to those was more of an syndrome. Sufferers of their mystery disease sometimes win as long as thirty months without experiencing a night. Eight of full sleep before the mass of imbalances of their metabolic. Hormonal and neurological systems finally killed them the uncertain in connection between sleeping and the other processes of the body lies at the heart of this mystery as author. DT Max documents in his his book the family that couldn't sleep science has finally begun to uncover some troubling truths about neurology in the past century as new tools have of emerged to help us probe the depths of the mind. A number of once incomprehensible diseases are now starting to make sense to researchers from Alzheimer's Parkinson's Parkinson's to the Venetian family curse for the sake of the family's privacy. Their surname has been shielded from the records but for simplicity. We'll call them the Venetians. The earliest recorded instance of symptoms in the family line can be traced to seventeen seventeen sixty four. This man's name has been lost to time but it is known that he was an esteemed. patrician doctor in Venice often called the Republic of music. The waterways of the legendary capital city were full of vibrant life. The Venetian Dr lived at the same time as the roguish. Casanova the legendary Lothar E. Oh and writer he most likely attended the opulent gallons of the city's elite where masked merchants gallivanting side by side with European royalty. The doctor may not have been at the highest end of this hereditary oligarchy. Esteem and wealth were passed down familiar lines yet. He was still wealthy enough to hold land in both the capital city of Venice and the countryside head of Venedetto. A graduate of the School of Medicine at Padua doctor was an intellectual descendant of Galileo himself and swore whereby nothing but the scientific method so one evening late in seventeen sixty four when even the peaceful sounds of Venice night. Couldn't low him to sleep. The doctor began to think something was wrong. He called out to his wife in the other room. The doctor's doctor's wife gazed into her husband's sleepless is. There was a bit of a glassy. Look to them. As if he were caught between the waking world in the dreaming one she also noticed. Her husband glistened with sweat from head to toe. The sweat has soaked through his layers of clothes and into the sheets. It's she filled a bucket of cold water and ran a cool club against his head hoping to cool any fever he might have but the doctor shook her off. The strangest thing about all of this was he wasn't hot while this was only the beginning of the rationalist era and doctors were more often wrong than ride. They knew that sickness and sweat were usually accompanied by a rise in body temperature yet. The doctor was is cool to the touch. His sweat ran for no clear reason at all when the morning clarion call. From Piazza San Marco rang rang out. The doctor still had not slept a wink. His wife suggested he stay in bed but the frustrated doctor forced his body up. There was much which work to do today as always sleep would certainly come the next night so the doctor returned to his routine for weeks. He commuted commuted between his two properties practicing his trade in both the city and countryside and yet sleep continued to elude him he he could close his eyes quiet his mind but he never quite drifted off into unconsciousness. His discomfort and exhaustion only grew you over the next few weeks. He consulted with other friends in the medical field but all they could suggest was to spend more time in the fresh air. The conception sleep in seventeen sixty four was still firmly said in Aristoteles ideas the Greek philosopher had ruled that sleep was linearly linearly connected to eating the energy or fumes from the meal drifted through the body until they entered the heart the cooling process then produce sleepiness around two hundred ce. The physician galen advanced things slightly further suggesting that it was the brain and and not the heart that led to sleep but beyond that it was still all Greek to the doctors of Venice and no help to are specific. Doctor during the following weeks stiffness spread through his limbs and his anxiety ratcheted up. The doctor began to suspect the environment was to blame name. Mysterious Diseases were not uncommon in this land of humidity and swampy water. Infection was such a regular problem that Venice's Ennis's public health department had strict regulations on the management of contagion after a victim was claimed by disease all of their sheets were burned earned in pyre and the rest of their belongings were left out in the suns purifying heat public servants. Then oversaw the perfuming of the deceased East's residents because as Dt. Max writes the predominant view was that infection was an invisible substance carried in the air smell smell connecting the spread of disease to particles. That couldn't be seen by. The human eye was an intuitive thought but perfuming didn't actually do anything anything to combat bacteria and viruses which weren't yet understood by scientists either way. The doctors colleagues concurred that he didn't this show any signs of a typical infection but they didn't have an alternative explanation either. By the beginning of seventeen sixty five the doctors months of sleeplessness had left him completely bedridden while the records don't stayed his exact symptoms we can draw conclusions from the fades that would soon follow in his family in the final stages of this illness. The lack of coordination caused by sleep deprivation nation progresses to the point where body movement becomes erratic or sometimes completely impossible. The doctor's wife allowed her husband's his friends to gather in their home at all hours as they work to find a solution she herself was exhausted from keeping vigil all night every night as the doctor Dr began to have dangerous hallucinations. One night he nearly mistakenly walked out his bedroom window her earlier. Observations regarding the doctors body temperature also seemed to have changed one night he was cool and the next he was burning hot but in either case he he was always sweating his colleagues saw. Only one possible solution. A popular drug called trickle for over fourteen eighteen hundred years physicians and healers across Europe. Had always turn to trickle. There were many different bruise. But the key the ingredient was always viper's flesh. According to the ancient Greek physician galen it took poison to destroy poison in the body. Well this is a solid concept that eventually became the basis for treatments like vaccination and chemotherapy. A lack of regulation in the eighteenth century meant most trickle was little more than snake oil. But hoping for the best the doctors colleagues walked away from a local apothecary. With a fresh batch of trickle in hand and return to his bedside they fed him the miracle cure either directly as a paste or mixed in with water when they finally got it down his throat. They sat back and observed. Besides Viper's flesh the mix contained gained opium which was often prescribed for insomnia due to. Its sedative affects. That would surely bring their friends. Some sorely needed rest but again the morning bell rang out and another night had passed without rest. If anything the trickle only made the doctor even sweatier the doctors colleagues left his home and told his wife there was only one type of healer. She could turn to now the local local priests for the next two months. The doctor sat completely paralyzed in his own bed. Still unable to move from his stiffness and loss of coordination coordination death arrived before sleep ever. Did the records of this doctors. Illness are some of the longest found in the Venice medical records from that year within the medical community. This mystery must have held quite sway and yet in the end all all the could be written for his cause of death was quote in organic defect of the hearts sack just like that a pattern began again members of the Venetian family were born. They tried to live well but seemingly at random were struck. Down by a protracted and deadly insomnia Eddie. Young Age doctors misunderstood their conditions and their causes of death. Soon enough the family could only write it off as is an unlucky twist of fate. They were cursed. Coming up will follow the curse. Through the ages into the modern era and explore the carnage left left in. Its wake. Hi It's Molly Park asked listeners. We have something special just for you. You starting December eleventh. PODCAST is rereleasing forty. Five classic episodes from the critically acclaimed series remarkable belives. Tragic deaths as part of the new limited series famous fades these stories are all true. All compelling and only available on spotify here our hosts Carter and Vanessa to tell you more thank you so much. We are thrilled to bring back the amazing true stories behind. Find some of history's most influential lives and chocking deaths. Starting December eleventh remarkable lives tragic deaths notably named an I tunes best. New podcast of two thousand sixteen is coming back to spotify as the new limited series famous fates with five episodes released east every Wednesday. Each group will center around a common theme such as Hollywood icons mysterious deaths or notorious names from Marilyn Monroe. And Harry Harry Houdini to Vincent Van Gogh and Al Capone will delve deeper into the extraordinary lives that helped shape our world and explore the lasting effects. Their deaths had on our culture. These incredible stories are all brought to life by an ensemble cast of talented voice actors and most importantly these he's episodes are all free and only available on spotify follow the park cast limited series famous fates only on spotify and now back to the story five years after the Venetian Dr died from his mysterious and chronic case of insomnia. His nephew giuseppe was born in seventeen. Seventy Giuseppe grew walk in his uncle's idyllic countryside Palazzo until Napoleon's invasion in seventeen ninety seven. The former Republic of Venice was is traded to Austrian control under which it would remain for most of the next century under Austria's rain the countryside Venuto fell on truly hard times as the Mercantile Oligarchy thinned-out in the capital city the farmers and artisans experienced trickled down hardship. The countryside's troubles only grew when Austria decided to dig channels through the valleys to route freshwater into the capital city in this had the effect of transforming all Benneteau into a veritable swamp as mentioned earlier. This atmosphere served as a vector factor for many diseases and now it was malaria. Time in the spotlight. This vicious disease limited productivity on farmlands as workers succumb to illness and death. This in turn led to malnutrition which led to yet another disease known as Allegra. GRA The World Health Organization identifies Pellagra as a disease have nutrient deficiency associated with diets with low levels of Niacin or other b-vitamins resulting in dermatitis diarrhea and dementia that can lead to death in the first decades aids of the nineteenth century. Giuseppe tried to work the land and support his increasingly large family including his three sons. Costano Angelo and Vincenzo but in eighteen twenty seven Costanza succumbed to illness he raved through the night and and told his father that it felt as if he had been possessed despite an extended prescription of exercises by Catholic Priests Costanza. Dante died in eighteen. Twenty eight after months of protracted illness still in his teenage years. His recorded cause of death matched etched so many others in the area. It was Pellagra while the skin condition associated with Pellagra did not match costanza symptoms dementia. Indepth certainly did that was enough for Italian medical authorities to connect the two syndromes. Giuseppe refused to accept such such an answer. The family was well off enough that no one went hungry. No malnutrition meant no allegra. But doctors weren't interested listed in investigating and other 'cause until Giuseppi also fill at fifty eight. His symptoms more closely resembled his late uncle's uncles rather than his son. custodies more insomnia less delirium. It is possible that father and son truly did have different diseases. This is yet the differing symptoms based on age would pop up later through the Venetian family tree. There's also the sad fact that both father and son were mobilized for months before their inevitable and unexplainable deaths Giuseppe passed away within the same year as Costano Taytay eighteen. Twenty eight this left Vincenzo and Angelo behind born in eighteen thirteen. Angela was dead by the eighteen seventies. These when he was in his sixties his symptoms were nearly an exact match for his father's Vincenzo on the other hand survived until eighteen eighty when he died of cancer not the family disease at age. Fifty eight before Vincenzo Past. He and his redheaded wife Marianne ahead ahead eight children six of whom would survive until adulthood. Marianna passed away in eighteen ninety three and count herself. Lucky not to die the same long painful death as her husband's relatives but Marianna and Vincenzo children weren't so lucky though neither parent lived to learn. Learn this hard truth. Their first born Angelo died in one thousand nine hundred eighty one in his mid thirties. While purina followed in one thousand nine hundred six in her forties Giovanni in nineteen thirteen in his forties and finally Antonio in Nineteen Twenty Six in his fifties records listed different causes of death for each sibling but the conclusions were never very definitive from the modern perspective. All All signs point towards the siblings dying of the same family disease the Venetian family began to have a similar sense. Something was haunting wanting them but they had no easy answer since Marianna was not from Benneteau originally. She was an easy scapegoat for her descendants. They didn't yet know. Oh that the disease went all the way back to the Venetian doctor. So they blamed the red headed interloper for bringing the curse in addition to heartache. The deaths offs also caused a tragic cycle of economic misfortune the infected branches of the Venetian family grew successively less wealthy due to the early deaths of the working age adults. This caused yet another a vicious cycle as these families than had more and more children to create more wage earners and keep everyone fat. The mysterious disease spread rapidly down the family line yet. Venetian and Italian doctors never ever properly connected. All of these cases to one another the family members causes of death were listed over and over as Pellagra or dementia or or even lumped with the encephalitis lethargic plague that had spread over Europe in the early decades of the nineteen hundreds otherwise known as the sleeping sickness us this rare form of encephalitis a brain. Swelling disease causes victims to fall into periods of unending slumber the exact exact opposite of the Venetian families problem. However as Dr Nathan Eastern Road for the CEPHALOPODA society some other symptoms symptoms of the two diseases resemble one another such as muscle paralysis forms of delirium and flu like symptoms before World War? One encephalitis lethargic was spreading rapidly across Europe however as cases gradually declined it became clear that the Venetian families disease was something else and as time went on the possible causes only continued to shrink after through the unification of Italy in eighteen. Seventy one a huge public works project was put in motion to drain the swamps that had infested the Venuto thaut countryside. Large hydraulic pump. Technology cleared away much of the murky water and without anywhere for bacteria to Fester Mr. The scourge of malaria mostly vanished. But as the general death. Toll flatlined this only made the deaths in the Venetian family. Stand standout even more now. The notion of a family curse spread beyond their private homes and into the public gossip mill. It was into this atmosphere. That Pietro Vincenzo grandson grew when he was born in eighteen ninety four. The family had already fallen far from their patrician origins. Pietro was not wealthy but he was ambitious he studied and he read and he worked hard to earn the respect of his community. Not But then the Great War came to Italy in one thousand nine Hundred Fifteen when Pietro was twenty one in the wake aac of the destruction. The brand new hydraulic pumps died and malaria returned during these struggles. The Socialist Party came to power and Pietro became a guiding light in the new local government only in his twenties he was dedicated to rebuilding the Venuto countryside and keeping the national spirit of Italy alive but there was one black mark on his record the Venetian family curse I although he was a respected member of the community not many women desire to wed accursed man. Pietro did finally line only managed to wed a dedicated partner in nineteen twenty and they had five children by nineteen thirty one e Selena. To- Ska Purina are assumed and Silvano Pietro's political idealism faced a heavy challenge in the nineteen thirties. As Benito Mussolini's Fascist Party party took control of the country H. O. was forced to bend the knee and serve this autocratic and corrupt government. He did it to hold onto his property and and keep his family fed. Let some of his old socialist allies never forgave him by nineteen forty-three world. Were to kick the legs out from under the fascist government. Partisan forces throughout Italy came together to fight off the fascists and Pietro atro- fell into their crosshairs in nineteen forty four. A threat was posted to his family's front door. It read. Prepare your bones because we're going to break them soon. Signed go sleep with the fishes Pietro's enemies didn't understand the irony any of this statement soon after receiving the threat. A sudden stiffness seized his body and he fell to his knees while trying to work in the fields. He told himself himself. It was nothing but stress but his daughter he selena knew something was very wrong. Thanks to her keen intuition history finally received received its first in-depth record of the family disease was confined to a hospital bed by nineteen forty. The three with doctors throwing their hands and confusion as they always had in the face of the families occurs with great sadness. Selena wrote to her brother. Tosa Papa is considerably worse than a month ago. He's lost his mind. He barely speaks and when he does. He doesn't know what he's saying when he sleeps. It's even worse. He makes these little movements because his nerves are never calm he rubs his hands and says he has pins and needles all this while seemingly asleep and when he wakes he is more tired than ever for. This last note was an incredibly important observation. WHAT HE SELENA noticed without realizing it is that this was a form of insomnia not doc dementia or delirium? Those signs of madness were side effects. Not The inherent issue what could not. Clearly communicate is is that even when he appeared to be resting he never truly achieved deep sleep. In the nineteen twenties Dr Nathaniel Clayton and started decades of research into sleep cycles. It wouldn't be until nineteen fifty three that Clyde men and his student Eugene as Rynski discovered rapid eye movement sleep the phase when dreaming occurs from their scientists began to untangle the different phases asleep type according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. There are four main stages divided between non rem and rem sleep the first nonren- stage lasts only a few minutes as muscles relax and heartbeat slows. The second stage of non rem sleep. Is the brains cool down period until it finally achieves non ram deep sleep in Stage three this is a stage where the most physiological recovery actually surely occurs finally stage four is when our minds enter into the dreaming state of Rim during a full night's rest our our minds and bodies cycle through the four stages multiple times with the most time spent in stages two and three long-term disruptions is to the cycle can cause serious effects on the body's processes but of course in one thousand nine hundred forty three. None of this was known to the small Venice Hospital where a PA tra- laid as the battles of world. War Two raged overhead. He selena stayed by her father's side as bombs. uh-huh shook the hospital building all around them. She knew the doctor's diagnosis of encephalitis was incorrect. Because Pietro who who was still lucid. Did Not complain of headaches. A key symptom of that disease. But even after all of her efforts to observe and record in her father's struggle doctors could find no answer to the medical puzzle remained bedridden until his death on June nineteenth since nineteen forty four at the age of forty nine another mistaken cause of death was recorded hypertension. He selena could only Shaker Acre head and chalk up another tragedy to the Venetian family curse thirty years later in nineteen seventy three P. H.. Rose youngest youngest daughter assumed sat before a loom working long hours for low pay in an Italy impoverished by the oil crisis but she never complained. That's what her niece. E SELENA's daughter. Lisi would always remember about her. Throughout the year the twenty-four-year-old or you roll. Lacey would come to find her life defined by an all consuming anxiety. It began when the ailing Asuka took refuge in the upstairs bedroom of their there home. One fateful day is Selena. Lead Lisa upstairs to watch over. Her aunt gracie watched in fear as Selena. Selena explained that this was the same exact progression of symptoms that overtook Pietro. All those years ago but unlike everyone else Elson her family lacy could not take it lying down. She realized that what was affecting sooner had been striking down other members of their family in the decades since Trudeau's death Piatra sister Angelo had died in nineteen forty eight followed by his niece Luigia in nineteen and fifty two and another niece Maria in nineteen sixty four. All of their symptoms corresponded with those of the family. Illness Lisi. She inherited the intuition of her mother Selina but took her observations a step further. She was studying to be a nurse. And engaged to an aspiring doctor you're named NATO together the pair set out to eliminate the notion of a curse and discover the true source of a familial disease when we return Lisi CEO begin their own investigation Russian into the Venetian family curse and now back to the story as a soon ten lead in bed. Ed incapacitated by the same disease that had ravaged her family for centuries a lights. Above her flickered. Nineteen seventy-three was an austere time for Italy. As the global oil crisis led to both food shortages and electrical blackouts. Luckily assumed his brother Silvano had become a successful businessman in the years. Since their Father Pietro's death financially. At least he could carry the burden burden of this family curse in much the same way. Lisa was picking up a different type of burden. DT Max defines it well in the pages of of the family who couldn't sleep common among families with genetic diseases is that members tend to divide between the ignores and the burden carriers ears in this family. Lisi is a burden carrier that all began here in nineteen seventy-three when Asuka reported to her niece ace that she felt quote like a Marionette whose master had dropped the strings. After a summer spent sweating and stiffening inside. Made her brother's home. The family finally relented and brought a soon to to a hospital. Lacy was all too ready for the typical response. Examining doctor suggested everything including encephalitis before. Finally settling on an inner ear disorder called many as disease. These dizzy spells and sweating. Were symptoms of many years which lined up with a cintas symptoms at least almost laughed in disbelief when she asked after the cause of many years it was unknown. One doctor suggested might be menopause. MEC- also new miniatures. Didn't explain the insomnia Omnia that haunted all the sick members of her family from a sooner back to PA tro and she assumed long before that to the family transferred to a hospital in Padua for the best possible care. The journey drained her of her remaining energy and she was only met by more confused. Doctors they insisted that as soon after must be hiding an alcohol problem her shaking uncontrollable limbs her heightened anxiety diety and sleeplessness assumed. I could only tearfully shake her head and deny it. Her spirit crumbled. The more doctors insisted did that. She was hiding something from her family. Lisi was indignant over the medical staffs treatment of ant. The hospital tied her down to her bed. Head to keep it from thrashing onto the floor and still they couldn't diagnose what was wrong with her. As soon as I was sent down a line of cat scans and other brain monitoring tests but there was nothing out of place in her head. On December thirtieth nineteen eighteen. Seventy three. The Patio medical staff injected her with a die hoping to scan her again and search for a hidden tumor instead a cintas heart rate skyrocketed and her convulsions worsened. Lisi and the rest of the family could only watch in horror. As as a scientist struggled for breath an emergency tracheotomy was performed. Doctors cut a hole into her throat and inserted a breathing Tube Jilib. Everyone expected her to die but incredibly a cintas still hung onto life into the new year interviewed later by. DT Max ax lacy wistfully recalled that her aunt could talk till the end. Just like whatever was wrong with her brain. Never affected did her memory when as soon died in the early days of nineteen seventy four. She was exhausted. Her pupils were small pinpricks of black and she had sweat out most of her body weight but she still knew who she was and she still knew her family was right there by her side. Eight days later on the eve of a cintas autopsy. Lucia Newman yet. CEO agreed that he would attended to make his own observations wins now an accredited doctor the hospital allowed in Nazi. Oh in as a guest. He sat amongst medical experts in the autopsy examination theater when a scientist brain was removed its weight didn't seem to indicate there had been any extensive loss of mass as would be consistent with something like alzheimers timers or a brain infection frustrated. The examiner kept cutting sectioning the brain into smaller and smaller pieces with nothing to show for it. In yachts. yohe grew frustrated as well as he knew. Such a massacre of an autopsy would prevent him from doing more microscopic study later and in the end it was all for nothing. The autopsy didn't yield any useful information over the next four years following any natsios marriage the couple set to work putting together a comprehensive history of the family and and their disease Lisi's mother Selena became her reluctant guide to distant relatives and long lost stories as any Nazi oh worked and they literally put their historian graffiti together on a poster in the shape of a tree in nineteen seventy eight Lisi's other ant purina arena began to show signs of the family disease. This time they see an immediate. CEO arrived at the hospital prepared. They cutoff any possible misunderstandings right away. No this was not Alzheimer's or Miniere's or menopause or alcoholism. This was something else and they didn't have much time to figure it out. They were right. Time was not on Purina side and she passed away in March nineteen seventy-nine in almost identical conditions to her younger sister a suitor but this time the listed cause of death was not a complete guess. The hospital put it down as familial encephalitis of indeterminable origin in yachts. That's your refuse to let the hospital. VIVISECTION PURINA's brain like they had done to assume twos instead he made contact with the famed named neurologist. Dr Yohannes Vigliotti in Geneva and sent him samples of Purina's tissue before sending them off in yet Zeo uh-huh himself had studied the samples under a microscope and made quite the monumental discovery. There were significant. Clusters of dead protein scattered across hearing is brain tissue. Researchers identified these as structures called plaques for their uniform solid form that contrasts with the rest of the healthier healthier tissue around them by chance in yachts Yo had read through case studies that included plaques during his intensive years of study when he saw the strange scarring of a symtas tissue his mind jump back to one particular case in the nineteen. Ten's German doctor. Hans Creuzfeld examined the brain of a girl who had seemingly been killed by Pellagra the same disease of malnutrition upon on which so many of the deaths in the Venetian family had been blamed but Creutzfeldt realized it was a neurological condition. That really killed the girl when he he found plaques of dead neurons all over her brain tissue samples. This was unusual. Neurological decay did not often take place over over the entire span of the brain instead gathering in specific areas. But whatever this was it was different. Ten years later her another German neurologist named alphonse-marie iago diagnosed several other cases with the same condition. Finally in Nineteen Twenty eight an Austrian doctor called Yosef Gerston. Put it all together. A series of patients came to him with poor coordination and qualities of dementia after their deaths. Gerston recognized that their plaque infested tissue samples matched the samples from both both courts foulds and Yacob's patients in so creutzfeldt-jacob disease was officially minted of course like Venetian families disease. No one actually knew the cause of course failed Jakko or cj de for short and by by the time of PURINA's death in nineteen seventy nine only one hundred and fifty people had officially died from it according to DT Max several researchers at the time wondered if CJ D. was nothing more than a convenient dumping ground for otherwise unclassifiable dementias. His when in yachts Yo brought up a possible connection between CJ D. and the Venetian families unknown condition the neurologist he consulted assaulted sided with those suspicious. Researchers purina samples showed that the neurological damage was mainly confined to the foul mouth structure picture in the brain C.. J. D. did not affect that area so they couldn't be the same disease once again Li Xiang yet Sio were were left disappointed. The curse remained hanging over their heads. Lisi grew more paranoid than ever all of this research had given her nightmares about when the disease might come for her or her mother e Selena. She followed her mother around the house watching for any signs that she might be falling ill she later told DT. Max I was a spy in my own house. These were years lived in Hell. But E SELENA would not be the next victim the curse would fall upon. LISI's Uncle Silvano I however this next battle against a disease would a change everything it turned out that in Yahtzee Oh had gotten very close to the truth when he linked the family condition to C. J. D. see the two diseases did share a commonality. They were sisters in a newly emerging group of diseases caused by a strange and misunderstood stood infectious agent. It wasn't a virus or a bacterium or anything of the sort. It was not any kind of foreign agent hoping to triumph over our our biology. It was our biology. It was a part of the body that for some reason turned against the rest. It was simply simply a protein gun roque today they are known as preowneds and they are the cause of diseases across all forms of life such as C. J. D. mad cow disease and yes fatal familial insomnia yeah after centuries of isolation the Venetian family was about to discover. They were not quite as alone in this struggle. Real estate had always gleamed. Thanks for listening to medical mysteries. Next week we'll go back in time to track a parallel line of scientific research that led to the discovery of pre-owned diseases and learn how the Venetian families own investigation fit within a much larger framework of biological history for more information on fatal familial insomnia amongst the varied sources we used we found. DT Max's investigatory history. The family only the couldn't sleep extremely helpful to our research. You can find all episodes of medical mysteries and all other podcast originals for free On spotify not only to spotify already. Have all your favorite music but now spotify making it easy for you to enjoy all of your favourite archivist originals like medical mysteries for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream medical mysteries on spotify. Just open the APP tap browse and type medical mysteries in the search bar. And don't forget to follow us on facebook and Instagram at par cast and twitter. At podcast network will see next time. Medical mysteries was created by Max. Cutler is a production of cutler media. And his part of the podcast network it is produced by Max and Ron Cutler sound designed by Michael Langer with production assistance by Ron Shapiro. All Liba Skin Skin Maggie Admire and Carly Madman. This episode of Medical Mysteries was written by Jack. Ben Tell and stars Molly Brandenburg and Richard Rosner Sner podcast listeners. Don't forget to check out the limited series that's just for you. Starting December Eleventh Park cast is rereleasing forty five classic episodes from the critically acclaimed aimed series. Remarkable lives tragic deaths as part of the new limited series famous fates these stories are all true. All compelling helling and only available on spotify with five episodes released every Wednesday journey deeper into the impactful lives and shocking deaths of Hollywood icons thought leaders influential women and more follow the limited series famous fates free and only on spotify.

Illness Lisi E SELENA Venice spotify insomnia Medical Mysteries Italy Silvano Pietro Illness scientist Pietro Vincenzo giuseppe Europe malaria facebook twitter Alzheimer Costano Angelo Pellagra Instagram
Talking to the Dead

True Mysteries of the Pacific Northwest

05:49 min | 1 year ago

Talking to the Dead

"Welcome to kids. Myths and mysteries either hosts kept crumb all this week and next. We're focusing on psychics. Tarot card readers mediums uh-huh fortune tellers and programming note here. I have that next Wednesday. I will have an interview with the woman. Who owns a a psychic boutique? And she will have one of her many psychics with her at should be a very interesting interview. That's Wednesday next week here on myths and mysteries trees. But today we're talking about the seance communicating with the dead has been around for centuries United States just after the civil war when so many men lost on. The battlefields was so little attention to their identification left to be buried until the battle that had killed them had passed often buried in mass graves leaving family and loved ones with no idea what happened to their father. Son Brother husband the grieving American public search for answers in media and through seances across Europe following world. War One sounds flourished often led by celebrities like Sir Arthur conon on and doyle the author Sherlock Holmes but critic arose from the World Magic from roughly nineteen twenty to nineteen twenty. Six Harry Harry. Houdini made a part of his. Life's work to expose. Mediums in the seance but the magician wasn't always so intent on exposing those would communicate with the dead. The great magician had two women in his life his mother and his wife. They were the law of his life when his mother Cecilia. Steiner Weiss died of a stroke. Nineteen Thirteen Harry. Houdini sought out a medium that would allow him to speak with his beloved mother but for decades his axe x his own acts had included. Sounds as were the highest form of deception. When he attended a seance could identify the very tricks tricks adhered used in his own acts? He went on the warpath exposing the fraudulent gatherings. Houdini he's former. Education was slight his self education. Commence the magician had a great love of books and of research built a formidable personal library when in the nineteen twenties he strode into the public public arena to confront fraudulent mediums. He proceeded from home lined with books and manuscripts about their methods of deception. Visitors to the online line collection can view July thirty first nineteen twenty five letter in which we need describes his extensive library of letters and documents related to the spiritualism his attacks stem from both shameless self-promotion sincere commitment to the public photographs and the Digital Houdini collection and show his exposures a rich penelope of psychic fraud sleight riding spirit photographs fingerprinting a spirit and trump and mediums. Who would transmit voices through the musical instrument articles and images present? Houdini greatest challenge many any crandon. The Media Mona's Marjorie. A woman who fooled one established academic mind after another. She found her greatest champion in Sir Arthur CONAN doyle. Genie was never able to expose her as an outright fraud but he did block her progress. Her name was Minna Crandon but the world knew her as Marjorie a pseudonym adopted to protect her from publicity. She lived with her husband successful. Surge in Leroy Crandon on Boston's affluent Beacon Hill. It was there in their house online street in one thousand nine hundred twenty three that she purportedly discovered she had psychic power specifically the ability to levitated objects generator. Called noises. Materialized spirit forms warms. The phenomenon were controlled. She said by the spirit of her deceased brother. Walter who would speak through Mina in a a gruff decidedly unspiritual manner. His No nonsense conference liberally laced with profanities before long binders talents came him to the attention of researchers and she was closely studied on an off for an suing ten years and through examination of the claims and counterclaims counterclaims so the various researchers would require a book length essay. I'm not that ambitious instead what I'd like to do. Compare and contrast the accounts of the initial investigation as presented in two influential books science and Para Science by Brian a angles nineteen eighty-four mediums and mystics. And the occult by Melborn Christopher. Nine hundred seventy five with only occasional forays into other sources verses when necessary and the process. We may not learn anything conclusive about March but we will learn something about the hazards and frustrations nations of studying. The paranormal was Marjorie. A greater magician than Houdini. Or was she the real thing able to call up dead and hold conversations for sessions. Maybe we'll find the answer to that next Wednesday when I interview a psychic and the owner of Psychic Boutique. We'll say beyonce was produced here at night. All sound studio and brought to you by the Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library and that by the way is where we will hold that interview next Wednesday. Don't Miss It. Myths and mysteries next Wednesday held at the Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library. I'm kit chrome thanks for.

Houdini Sir Arthur CONAN doyle Psychic Boutique Marjorie Rogue Valley Metaphysical Libr fraud Minna Crandon crandon Harry Harry Walter Mina Europe Leroy Crandon Steiner Weiss Sir Arthur conon United States beyonce Cecilia Genie