|The first statement of Jacques Price a witness to the punch that led
to Houdini's Death
PROVINCE OF QUÉBEC,
DISTRICT OF MONTRÉAL.
I, the undersigned, Jacques I. Price, being duly sworn depose and say: –
1. That I am a student at McGill University, Montréal, and reside at No. 724 Sherbrooke
St., West Montréal, but am domiciled at Preston, in England.
2. The first time I met the late Harry Houdini was on Friday morning, October 22, 1926
when I called on him with a friend of mine, Samuel J. Smilovitch, at Houdini’s dressing
room in the Princess Theater, Montréal. The said Smilovitch is a student artist and
intended to sketch Houdini whose permission he had secured for that purpose. There
was also present at this visit with Houdini, Miss Sophie Rosenblatt, a nurse attending
the late Harry Houdini in connection with trouble he had with his foot. Mrs. Houdini was
also present for a time, as well as two lady secretaries, and later a first year student of
McGill in Arts came into the room. This latter person was about 25 years of age, about 6’
1” tall, well-built, weighing approximately 180 lbs. and seemed to be of a rather
3. My friend Smilovitch and myself were in the dressing room from 11:15 until about 1:15
P.M. I was seated in the center of this small dressing room, Smilovitch on my right and
this student on my left. Houdini was facing us and lying down on a couch at the time,
reading some mail, his right side nearest us. This first year student engaged Houdini
more or less continually in a conversation whilst my friend Mr. Smilovitch continued to
sketch Houdini. This student was the first to raise the question of Houdini’s strength.
My friend and I were not so much interested in his strength as we were in his mental
acuteness, his skill, his beliefs and his personal experiences. Houdini stated that he
had extraordinary muscles in his forearms, in his shoulders and in his back, and he
asked all of us present to feel them, which we did.
4. The first year McGill student asked Houdini whether it was true that punches in the
stomach did not hurt him. Houdini remarked rather unenthusiastically that his stomach
could resist much although he did not speak of it in superlative terms. Thereupon he
gave Houdini some very heavy hammer – like blows below the belt, first securing
Houdini’s permission to strike him. Houdini was reclining at the time with his right side
nearest the said student who was more or less bending over him. These blows fell on
that part of the stomach to the right of the navel and therefore on Houdini’s right side. I
do not remember exactly how many blows were struck I am certain, however, of at least
four very hard and severe body blows, because at the end of the second or third blow I
verbally protested against this sudden onslaught on the part of this first year student
who continued striking Houdini with all his strength.
5. Houdini stopped him suddenly in the midst of a punch with a gesture that he had had
6. Houdini immediately after stated that he had had no opportunity to prepare himself
against the blows.
7. The conversation then continued smoothly until about 1:15 P.M. when we left on
Houdini stating that he would have to get ready to have his lunch.
And I have signed,
Jacques I. Price
Sworn to before me at Montréal this 14th day of February 1927.
Commissioner Superior Court
District of Montréal