February 12th, 2009
03:33 PM ET
11 years ago

In Ford’s Theater, Obama invokes forbidden word

 On a trip to Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, Obama paid tribute to the 16th president’s ability to recall passages of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth.

On a trip to Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, Obama paid tribute to the 16th president’s ability to recall passages of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s a word so fraught with superstition, its very mention can send grown men ducking for cover — and President Obama used it Wednesday night.

Macbeth.

On a trip to Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, Obama paid tribute to the 16th president’s ability to recall passages of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth. And with that reference, he unwittingly ventured into what many theater hands believe to be dangerous territory: any mention of the name of the doomed Scottish king in a theater outside of a performance is considered verboten by many actors, who believe it will result in a cursed production — including a greater possibility of injury, bankruptcy, even death.

So does Obama have anything to fear from uttering the unluckiest word in what may be the unluckiest theater in American history? Theater-goers can relax: Many stage afficianados believe that the prohibition only applies to performers or theater hands, and non-actors have nothing to worry about.

But in the near future, the president might want to stick to movies. Just to be on the safe side.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. Gary

    CNN apparently doesn't want to cover the pork in the stimulus and how we will saddle our children with extraordinary debt because we mistakenly believe it will get us out of a recession 4 months early...This story is a waste of your news talent. I'm beginning to feel like CNN is working for Obama and Pelosi.

    February 12, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Joe

    You know, I've read a lot of dumb articles masquerading as journalism on this site, but this one takes the cake. This article even makes Naverette look intelligent.

    Time to start getting my news from a reputable source. Bye!

    February 12, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. arithmetic is liberal

    Stage aficionados only believe that it's a curse if said by a stage hand or actor? Ha! Hardly! I live in Hollywood, married to a professional actor, actors are most of my friends. So I can say this with absolute certainty:

    I have never seen a SERIOUS actor invoke the Macbeth curse in any kind of seriousness. The only actors I've seen do this are the kids right outta high school who got taught this by whatever batty drama teacher they had. And they usually have a stupid ritual to "lift the curse" like turning counter clockwise in a circle three times while stomping your foot or some crap.

    It rankles me just as much as the relevance of this Ticker article. Because when it comes down to it, the whole Macbeth thing is just another way for shallow actors with nothing to say to get some attention for their phony outrage at someone saying Macbeth in a theatre.

    February 12, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Dave

    He is one of the best actor/politicians since Reagan. He consistently fools the majority of Americans into thinking that he actually knows what he is doing.

    February 12, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    "Can you loan my two pounds until Tuesday when the post comes due?!" – Ewan McTeagle

    Sorry, couldn't resist the Monty Python homage........! ! !

    February 12, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Jeff from Jersey

    What a waste of time this one is.Obviously CNN can't come up with any real new so "Ouet damn spot" it is.Lincoln and Shakspeare are just shaking their heads and wondering why they even bothered trying to improve human kind.
    Please pass the popcorn!

    February 12, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. ttofast70@comcast.net

    To the idiot who said BO sucks-you'd know baby because you swallow.

    February 12, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. chuck

    kristi@ you need a good eight inch sausage then you'll be ok.

    February 12, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Cory

    This sounds like a Campbell Brown piece of news? hahaha

    February 12, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Archie H.

    I have studied Lincoln and I know him well ! Obama ; you are no Lincoln ;not even close !

    February 12, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Jeff

    "What a joke, superstition? If you are a child of God you don’t believe in such nonsense. This article is so stupid"

    God is a superstition.

    February 12, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Tony from North Port FL

    This article was soooo stupid! What a waste of time and effort. With all that's going on in the world, to think someone took the time out to research this and then write about it indicates may be it's time for the writer to consider a career change.

    February 12, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Jon

    OH brother. Did he actually say anything of any worth? What kind of idiocy is this?

    February 12, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. lotta muni

    I was afraid he'd uttered a more dread word: "PELOSI"!
    LOL!!

    February 12, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. anthony philadelphia

    CNN should really just change the name to Obama company. This is S reporting from a S news station. At least ABC/CBS/NBC are right there with CNN. You Obamaniacs are morons.

    February 12, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. JGBNY

    I have finally figured this guy (obama) out...

    He is completely INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Tom in Delaware

    Really....how much more cursed could our country be than it already is now?

    February 12, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. ken

    Someone is supposed to come up with a channel which people can trust the news!

    February 12, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. Joe The Plumber

    and if you wear yellow, blue, pink, white and red and turn around 3 times to the south, 1 time to the west and 5 times slowly to the north, you need to immediately buy a lottery ticket because the numbers you choose will be the winning ticket.

    February 12, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Evan

    Hey, guys, it is HUGE news when someone as important as a president utters the word "Macbeth" in a theater. There are some things in our culture that make us stand up and take notice. This is one of them. In simpler terms, it's a huge no-no.

    I mean, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ole' Lone Ranger - well, you get the idea.

    February 12, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. BK

    I can't believe CNN is reporting on dark age superstition.

    February 12, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. Nan

    OMG!! How scary is that!!

    When I was 16, I worked as an apprentice in a "star system" summer playhouse. "Bye Bye Birdie" was the show of the week. Carleton Carpenter was the star.

    Just before curtain up one afternoon, I suddenly realized I'd quoted the 3 witches speech at the beginning of "Macbeth". I didn't know how to counteract it. I was ushering that week.

    At one point in the overture, the curtain is supposed to rise. Instead – the curtain jerked and did not rise. Suddenly there was a crash, a scream, and the actor playing Kim's father came rushing out to the lobby yelling for a doctor.

    The brand new (200 lbs. per inch) rope that supported the pipe that held the kleig (stage) lights broke and the pipe and lights came crashing down ON TOP OF MR CARPENTER – pinning him down on the stage!!! I became one hysterically crying 16 year old.

    Fortunately, Mr Carpenter was not badly hurt and was able to continue. But to this day, I blame myself for what happened.

    The curse of "Macbeth" is real – I have no doubts about that!!

    February 12, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Emil, Franklin, TN

    Gee, I feared the word was "depression." I am relieved.

    February 12, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. SJ

    This "story" is more like something I'd expect to see in the National Inquirer than on CNN. All that is missing is the quote from the psychic. Come on CNN, get it right. Either dump the story, or add the psychic's predictions to it.

    February 12, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. BC

    I've been a professional playwright since 1987. Having heard that uttering the "M" word in the theatre meant bad luck had be cowed when I was younger and inexperienced. Every time I enter a theatre whether to see a play or rehearse one, I whisper the "M" word. One time I yelled "MACBETH!" at the top of my lungs...the play was a flop. Hmmmm....

    February 12, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13