The Harry Houdini gravesite in New York City has long been the target of vandals and miscreants, but a group of magicians is now hoping to change that with a project to restore it.
Fox News reports that the Society of American Magicians will be spearheading a move to restore the site to its former glory, thus paying tribute to one of America’s greatest entertainers.
Harry Houdini, born Ehrich Weiss, found success as one of the most talented escape artists to ever live. His life has been honored in film and television for decades, but during that same period of time, his grave has gradually disappeared.
Dorothy Dietrich, a member of the group and head of a Houdini museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, hopes to change that.
“Houdini was a visionary,” she told the news site. “He was an inventor, an escape artist, and he gave back to society in so many ways. It’s the least we can do to give back in some small way for all he’s given to us.”
Very few relatives of Houdini still exist, but those that are left do not have the money to pay for upkeep of the gravesite.
Fox notes that Houdini was at his most popular when he purchased “24 plots at the 6-acre graveyard located in a swath of open space crowded with cemeteries,” adding that his parents, siblings, and even an already deceased grandmother who was exhumed and brought over from Hungary, are interred there.
Harry Houdini died, according to the book On the Edge of the Unknown by friend and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, when he was struck in the stomach, and his appendix ruptured.
He could reportedly withstand the punch of any man, no matter how fierce, and is said to have been sucker-punched by boxer and McGill University student Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead, after being asked whether the claims were true.
Many historians are uncertain whether Whitehead’s punches really caused Houdini’s death, or if the master illusionist would have died anyway had he never crossed paths with the man, though others note that the blows might have masked the pain of the appendicitis until it was too late for Houdini to get help.
Whitehead later died of malnutrition, according to Find A Grave. Author Don Bell wrote about him in the 2004 book, The Man Who Killed Houdini.
As for the Harry Houdini restoration project, here’s hoping it goes well. Best of luck to the organizers.