Podcast #32: Rose Mackenberg

Welcome to our 32nd podcast, in which Nicole Saraniero and Dana Lewis (recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019) conjure up enthusiastic ghost-buster Rose Mackenberg. Sometimes called “Harry Houdini’s Girl Detective,” Rose was dedicated to debunking psychics who scammed vulnerable and grieving Americans recovering from the tragedies of World War I and the Spanish Flu of 1918. She started out as a stenographer and private investigator, joining forces with famed magician Houdini to crusade against fraud and psychic swindlers.

Here it comes, produced and presented by Susan Stone:

Also available on Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here are Nicole (left) and Dana (right) on stage:


Curious about those costumes?


Publicity material from the time:


If you want to read more, there’s a compilation of her writing put together by Tony Wolf, Houdini’s “Girl Detective”: The Real-Life Ghost-Busting Adventures of Rose Mackenberg.

Rose also has a belated obituary in the New York Times‘ rather good “Overlooked No More” series, dedicated to women who weren’t written about when they died.

A few excellent pictures of Rose in action are available in the Saturday Evening Post.

And she’s also featured in artist A R Hopwood’s exploration of The Ethics of Deception for London’s Wellcome Collection.


In these coronavirus times, our venues could use your support. You can donate to ACUD in Berlin via Startnext, and/or to the KGB Bar in NYC via Fundly, and/or your own local cultural stronghold.


Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in May. And here’s a link to our Patreon, in case you’d like to help fund our work.

Support for the Dead Ladies Show podcast comes from the Berliner Senat.