Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Epic Magic Trick Failures


9
Madame DeLinsky's Bullet Catch
Magician George Grimmond performs a bullet catch trick in 1958 similar to the one that killed Madame DeLinsky 138 years earlier. © Bettmann/Corbis
Magician George Grimmond performs a bullet catch trick in 1958 similar to the one that killed Madame DeLinsky 138 years earlier. © Bettmann/Corbis

The DeLinsky family, a Polish husband-wife magician duo, was performing a bullet catch in front of a German prince and his family in 1820 when things went awry. Madame DeLinsky acted as her husband's assistant, and he watched as his pregnant wife was shot to death right on stage.

Their bullet catch method was a little bit different from Chung Ling Soo's. Instead of loading one real bullet and one blank, they used all blanks and squad of professional soldiers who fired six guns at once. Their gunmen did the actual loading and shooting during the act.

At that time, bullets came wrapped in paper that was bitten away before loading the bullets into the gun. Instead of just biting away the paper wrapping, the soldiers were supposed to secretly bite away the whole bullet and swap in a blank [source: Steinmeyer].

One of the soldiers at the performance in Germany had a bit of stage fright and reverted to autopilot during the gun-loading part of the act. He forgot to bite away the whole bullet and swap it out for a blank; Madame DeLinsky was shot in the belly with a real bullet, lost her pregnancy and died from the wound two days later [source: DeMain].