10 Of The Most Unlikely Historical Friendships

Everybody can benefit from having a friend. They can help us get through the tough times or just help us save a few bucks with a ride to the airport. Bonds of friendship can be formed through many different ways such as common interests, sharing hardships, or even geographical proximity. Look close enough, and you will find friendships in the unlikeliest of places.

10 Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini

After establishing himself as a renowned escapologist, Harry Houdini spent the latter half of his career debunking the supernatural and exposing fake psychics. Conan Doyle, on the other hand, was a complete believer in anything Amazon.com Gift Card i... Check Amazon for Pricing. remotely connected with the paranormal. Particularly, he was a massive fan of mediums after one pretended to talk to his son who’d died in World War I. It’s hard to think these men would ever become friends, but they were friends for years, mostly because Houdini hid his real feelings about spiritualists.

Houdini never set out to become the mortal enemy of psychics. At first, he had a genuine interest in the subject, particularly after his mother’s death. However, being a trained magician, he could easily spot the techniques that psychics used. His real feelings on the subject finally became evident to Doyle during a seance conducted by Doyle’s wife, in which she used automatic writing to supposedly communicate with Houdini’s mother. Even for a psychic reading, it went very badly: Lady Doyle drew a cross even though Houdini’s mother was the Jewish wife of a rabbi. She also filled pages of fluent English even though Cecelia Weiss barely spoke the language.

After that, Houdini declared war on spiritualists. With the help of Scientific American, he also set up a cash prize for anyone who demonstrated any kind of supernatural ability. That prize was never collected, and Houdini’s friendship with Doyle never recovered.

9 Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzgerald

In 1955, Ella Fitzgerald’s career really took off after an impressive showing at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood, one of the most happening spots in town. However, her performance might not have ever happened without the help of an unlikely supporter—Marilyn Monroe.

The owner of the nightclub didn’t want to book Fitzgerald. It has often incorrectly been said that it was because of her race, but other black performers like Eartha Kitt had performed at the Mocambo in the years prior. Others say the owner Charlie Morrison simply didn’t see Ella Fitzgerald as a big draw.

Whatever the reason, it took Marilyn Monroe’s support to get Ella the gig. Monroe promised that when Ella played, she herself would be at a table, front and center. This was enough not only to land Fitzgerald the job but to bring a lot of media attention to her performance. From then on, Ella Fitzgerald never had to play a second-rate jazz club again.

The two of them became pretty close afterward, finding that they had a lot in common. Fitzgerald saw Monroe as a woman ahead of her times to whom she owed a great debt. In the meantime, Marilyn not only was a fan of Ella Fitzgerald but used her music to learn how to sing.

8 Helen Keller & Mark Twain

Helen Keller, an author and political activist, became a national hero and an inspiration for the way she overcame being deaf and blind. The early stages of her education, when she first learned how to communicate, formed the basis for the well-known play The Miracle Worker. And throughout her career, Helen had a surprising admirer—Mark Twain.

A friendship between the two seemed unlikely, with Twain being 45 years older than Keller. When the two first met in 1894, Helen was just 14 years old, and Mark Twain was already in his fifties. However, Helen reminded the author of his youngest daughter, Jean Clemens, which is partially the reason why the two grew fonder of each other over the next 16 years until Twain’s death. According to Keller, Twain had a great intuition about how it felt to be blind and never made her feel embarrassed or helpless. At the same time, he was also very understanding, oftentimes sharing stories and allowing Helen to read them from his lips. He also defended her after she left the Perkins School for the Blind due to accusations of plagiarism.

In 1900, Twain had a significant long-lasting effect on Helen’s life when he introduced her to Standard Oil industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers and arranged for him to pay for Helen’s education at Radcliffe College. In 1904, Helen graduated from Radcliffe College and became the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.

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