|the First Affidavit of Samuel Smilovitz
Dominion of Canada,
Province of Québec 1
SAMUEL J. SMILOVITZ, being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
I am a student at McGill University, Montréal, Canada, and reside at 724 Sherbrooke
St. W., Montréal.
I first met the late Harry Houdini in the ballroom of the McGill University union on the
afternoon of October 19, 1926 when he delivered an address to the student body of
the University. I am an artist and I sketched Houdini while he was speaking. I showed
him the sketch and he appeared to be pleased with it, autographed it and invited me
through a friend to call to see him at the Princess Theater some morning after 10 o'
clock to make a drawing of him.
Accordingly at about 11 o’clock on Friday morning, October 22, 1926, I called on
Houdini with a friend, Jack price by name, at his dressing room. Others present at
this visit were Miss Sophie Rosenblatt, a nurse who is attending on Houdini in
connection with trouble he had with his foot, Mrs. Houdini who was present for a
time, two lady secretaries and later a third student of McGill University, who I believe
is in the second year of arts at the University. Such third student was about 25 years
of age and seemed to be of a rather inquisitive disposition.
My friend and I were in the dressing room from about a quarter after 11 o’clock in the
morning until about a 1:15 in the afternoon. I was seated in one corner of the room
(which is small like most theater dressing rooms) with a pencil and paper as I was
going to draw Houdini. My friend, Jack Price, was seated near me and watched me
draw for a considerable part of the time. A little distance away from my friend sat the
third student. Opposite to the three of us reclining on a couch and with his right side
nearer to us was Houdini. The latter while reclining was resting on cushions to make
it more convenient for him to talk and to be drawn by me. It was rather difficult to
draw Houdini as he was reading his mail although this did not disturb me so much.
The third McGill student engaged Houdini more or less continually in conversation
and Houdini of course turned to answer him. He told us much concerning his beliefs,
experiences and the like. The third McGill student spoke to Houdini about his
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 experiences. Houdini stated that
he had extraordinary muscles in his forearms, his shoulders and in his back and he
asked us to feel them, which we did.
The third 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. The
McGill student shortly thereafter gave Houdini very heavy blows below the belt,
(handwritten: first securing Houdini’s permission to strike him – initialed S. J. S.)
Houdini was reclining and the said student was more or less over him. Since
Houdini's right side was nearer to us, the blows fell to the stomach a little to the right
of the navel. I do not remember exactly how many blows were struck. I am sure,
however, that at least two hard and deliberate blows were delivered while my friend
believes that the student hit the reclining magician at least four times. Houdini
stopped the student in the midst of a punch (handwritten – immediately after my
friend and I protested against this sudden onslaught. – Initialed S. J. S.) Houdini
stated that he had not had an opportunity to prepare himself against the blows. The
conversation then continued smoothly and I continued to draw until a little after 1 o’
clock when Houdini was ready to go to lunch.
(Signed) SJ Smilovitz
Sworn to before me this
10th day of February, 1927.
Commissioner of the Superior Court
For the District of Montréal