An excerpt from

The Man Who Killed Houdini
by Don Bell

Sam Smiley's Testimony

While I was drawing him, in comes this Gordon Whitehead, a fellow about forty or thereabouts. He was tall, at least six feet, smooth-shaven, almost bald, wearing a beige gabardine raincoat, and he was a divinity student, of all things. He seemed brash and arrogant and I didn't like the intrusion at all. He had a slight English accent and kept asking Houdini questions. He seemed to know him and was returning a book that he had apparently borrowed.

He said that as a divinity student he was curious if Houdini had any opinions about the miracles in the Bible. The question seemed to annoy Houdini. "I don't discuss these matters," he told Whitehead. But then he said, "I leave you boys with one thought: suppose I had been performing my magic in those days?"

And then Whitehead said, "Mr. Houdini, I hear you can resist blows struck to the abdomen. Would you mind if I struck a few blows to your abdomen?" I suppose it was his professional pride. Houdini says, "Go ahead."

He was reclining on the couch, propped up on pillows. He appeared to brace himself, but Whitehead didn't waste any time. He bends over--he was tall, lanky--and delivers a few direct blows to the abdomen, a good four or five. I just sat there, mouth agape, not knowing what was happening.