I n September 1925, a Pittsburgh self-proclaimed "medium" made a brave - if unwise - decision. She publicly announced she would accept Harry Houdini's challenge to prove her supernatural powers.
Rev. Dr. Alice S. Dooley served as the pastor of Pittsburgh's Church of Divine Healing. To win Houdini's challenge she would have to answer three questions chosen by the famous magician and protected within sealed envelopes. If successful, Dooley would be the first medium to win Houdini's $10,000 reward, although Dooley said she would refuse the money. All she wanted, she assured, was to prove mediums were real.
Dooley went on stage with Houdini in a Pittsburgh theater and, sporting soul that she was, attempted to answer the first two secret questions. Unfortunately, she widely missed the mark on both. She made no attempt at all on the third query.
"I'm willing to admit I failed," Dooley said after the exhibition, "but I'm going to try again."
Before ending the performance, Houdini revealed to the curious audience two of the questions chosen for Dooley. The first asked the name of the Pittsburgh police chief he'd met while traveling in Europe. Dooley's answer, "Possibly March 30, 1864," was clearly inaccurate. The second question was from whom he had learned the East Indian rope trick. This was met with an even more ridiculous reply. Dooley answered, "It is possible."
Only Dooley understood why her spirit guides provided these responses to Houdini's secret questions - or why she agreed to challenge Houdini in the first place. 💀
Did Spiritualists kill Harry Houdini?
Find out on this episode of Hauntingly PENNSYLVANIA™ publisher Stephanie Hoover's podcast: