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The Last Wishes of Harry Houdini
Posted In: Information and Theories  3/13/11
By: Yona Williams

As he prepared for his death, he named Wihelmina his 'spiritual contact,' as he promised to communicate with her from beyond the grave. After his death, she lived for 17 years and made many yearly attempts to make contact with her husband. She was known for orchestrating routine séances, but she was never able to "speak" with Houdini again.

Houdini left specific details for his burial and will. He was very close to his mother and was known for worshipping her in life and in death. When she passed away, he visited her grave every day and at the same time – usually at 12:15 midnight, which was the time of her death. Consumed with grief, Houdini refused to believe that his mother was gone. He started to attend séances, which became an important part of his views and beliefs regarding the afterlife. He made it his goal to challenge such things when he really had a hope that such spiritualism was authentic.

At one point, it was said that his mother spoke during a séance. However, she was Hungarian, and the voice he had was unaccented English, which was a language she had never heard. Because of this, Houdini disregarded the practice and stopped attending séances – writing them off as a hoax. This experience led Houdini to launch an attack against spiritualists and the techniques that they used.

The burial instructions of Houdini were that he would be placed next to his mother in a grave in Brooklyn. He has also saved all the letters that his mother wrote to him. He wanted the correspondences to be buried with his – placed on a pillow beneath his head. His wishes were all met, including a few others.  Houdini's body was laid to rest in the well known "buried alive" coffin – a bronze casket that used to tour with the magician whenever he performed at various cities.

There was a letter to Houdini's wife attached to his will. He had written it just days before he died. He said, "Sweetheart, When you read this I shall be dead. Dear Heart, do not grieve. I shall be at rest by the side of my beloved parents, and wait for you…Yours in Life, Death, and Ever After, Houdini."

In his will, Houdini left his wife a home, jewelry, paintings, income associated with investments, and his library – with the exception of books on the black art of magic, which were given to the Library of Congress. His brother, Theodore, was given a sum of money, which came with stipulations concerning grandchildren. As a son of a rabbi, Houdini still managed to keep connected to his faith. He allowed the money to pass onto Theodore's children only if they were brought up under the Jewish religion.


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