Halloween is the one day when we explore the eerie side of life . . . and death. Each year haunted houses and ghosts make October 31 a spooky, scary day. But it’s also a day on which many notable have died, from both natural and unnatural causes.
Ramon Novarro was as big of a Hollywood star as they come. Known as Ravishing Ramon, he was pegged as the logical successor to Rudolph Valentino. At the height of his acting fame, he earned $100,000 per film and starred in classics such as Scaramouche (1923), Ben-Hur (1925), and We Were Strangers (1949).
Believing Novarro kept bundles of cash at his house, brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson phoned the recluse actor one night. Novarro invited them over only to be tortured and ultimately killed by the siblings. They were caught and sentenced to long prison terms. Novarro’s body was discovered the next day, on Halloween of all days, and became one of Tinseltown’s greatest scandals.
Other noteables to die on Halloween were River Phoenix, Indira Gandhi, Harry Houdini, Studs Terkel and John Houseman.
Harry Houdini ‘s Last Will and Testament
Harry Houdini, born in 1874, was considered the greatest magician and escape artist of his era, and possibly of all time. When he died in 1926 from a ruptured appendix, Houdini left his magician’s equipment to his brother Theodore, his former partner who performed under the name Hardeen.
His library of books on magic and the occult was offered to the American Society for Psychical Research on the condition that J. Malcolm Bird, research officer and editor of the ASPR Journal, resign. Bird refused, and the collection went instead to the Library of Congress. The rabbits he pulled out of his hat went to the children of friends. Houdini left his wife a secret code – ten words chosen at random – that he would use to contact her from the afterlife. His wife held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after his death, but Houdini never appeared.
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