October 31 in history:
Real-life spooks and scares on Halloween, in history…
Seances are often held on Halloween, with the hope of contacting the spirit of Harry Houdini. The magician and escape artist died of peritonitis on October 31st, 1926, several days after a young man punched him hard in the abdomen to see whether he really could withstand powerful blows. Houdini said he didn’t have time to prepare his abdominal muscles for any punches before he was hit.
A “Holiday on Ice” performance came to a disastrous end on Halloween night in 1963, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Near the end of the show, a fiery explosion killed dozens and injured hundreds among the four thousand people inside the Coliseum. The blast was blamed on a propane leak at a popcorn stand. The ice rink was turned into a temporary morgue after the explosion.
A tiger shark attacked 13-year-old surfing champion Bethany Hamilton while she was floating on her surfboard near her home in Hawaii on this date in 2003. The shark took Hamilton’s left arm, and a chunk of her surfboard. She recovered from the injury to resume her surfing career. Hamilton’s ordeal inspired the 2011 movie “Soul Surfer.”