Sherlock Holmes' Creator Thought His Friend Harry Houdini Had Real Magic Powers
The relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) and Harry Houdini (professional death-cheater) was the opposite of what you'd expect from their job descriptions. Doyle wrote stories about taciturn detectives solving crimes through reason and logic, while Houdini was a showy illusionist whose name is synonymous with magic -- and yet, Houdini was the skeptic and Doyle the one who wouldn't shut up about how fairies are totally real, you guys.
via Entertainment Weekly
They were like Mulder and Scully, but with somehow even more sexual tension.
The two first met in 1920, and established an unlikely bromance over their shared interest in spiritualism (as in, communication with ghosts, not a fanaticism for strong alcohol). Doyle had long been a believer in the idea that there was life after death, even more so after his son died in World War I. Houdini, on the other hand, wanted to believe that it's possible to chat with the dead after his mom passed away, but just couldn't. He knew how easy it was for bullshit artists to fake a seance -- mainly because he'd done it himself, when he was young and needed the money.
Doyle and Houdini's different positions regarding ghosts and magic caused friction between them. Houdini would perform simple vaudeville tricks to prove that anyone could fake that shit, but they only convinced Doyle that his friend was some sort of powerful psychic or X-Men. One time, out of boredom, Houdini held up his hands and pretended to remove the end of his thumb and then reattach it. Doyle was astounded and his wife nearly fainted. Apparently, the most successful detective books of all time were written by a dude with a kindergartner's stimulus threshold.
Toronto Public Library
The two men shook hands upon Houdini returning Doyle's nose.