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. Obama Fan

    Oh brother. Slow news day, huh CNN?

    February 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. cal

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

    February 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. dave

    I resent the fact I read this article when I know there's a kitten stuck in a tree somewhere that I could have been reading about instead.

    February 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. jAY

    get a grip.....

    February 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. JIMCT

    Wait a second...I thought the "fobidden words" in the Ford Theater was "BREAK A LEG". 🙂

    February 12, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Bankrupt in Tx

    This is NEWS? When will the superstitious media focus on the real issues instead of frivilous taboos of their own creation?

    February 12, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. John

    Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth

    February 12, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Ford's Theater

    I worked at Ford's Theater as an usher when I was in high school. We were always leery going downstairs between shows. This is where they had the Lincoln exhibit. I hated to go pass his top hat and coat in the dark. The only thing that was lit was the case that had his clothes. They also had the door that Booth entered before he shot him. It was scary.

    But I loved the history, and I love this president.

    February 12, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Tom in S.A.

    Many stage afficianados believe that the prohibition only applies to performers or theater hands, and non-actors have nothing to worry about.

    Sounds like he ought to be worried.........

    February 12, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Erik, IA

    Phew. I thought he said "Voldemort."

    February 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Simpliticus

    The unluckiest word being uttered at an unlucky place by the luckiest man should merely cancel out the ill effects. perhaps, the president can make these two unlucky items not so unlucky by this process for all of us!

    February 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Sophia Beck

    President has broken several barriers and he will break this barrier as well.

    February 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    Very fitting that this President is courting disaster... just like his "spendulous" plan.

    February 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Banquo

    Dunce

    February 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Lady Scottish-Play

    *cringe*

    February 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. anon

    Bull sh***

    February 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. John G

    Really?!

    Obama says one word and it makes national news?

    CNN I know in the age of nonstop media you have to keep an edge...but this is ridiculous.

    February 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. Judy

    OK, CNN posts some really dumb stories, but this one takes the cake!

    February 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. Kristin

    Well he is one heck of an actor so come what may.

    February 12, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Laura, Boston

    And this is news because...?

    February 12, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Larry Houston Texas

    I've been watching Soledad's interviews & so on, she's doing a good Job.....But, I would like to comment regarding Lincoln. The people she has interviewed, one has said Lincoln didn't Look Back, where he was raised, and went ON in Life, and becoming a Politician, Lawyer,
    and finally, went on to the White House.....Here's a question for you, CNN, Did You know that when you compare a Penny / a Nickel / a Quarter / a 50 cent Piece / did you know that all the Presidents HEADS are looking ONE WAY, except for Lincoln's ??

    Could you find out the real reason why ?

    I've heard, the reason was : When he "freed the slaves" a lot of the american people & people in congress & etc. were so ticked off at his idea, and when he actually did that, he didn't "Look Back" and that's how and why they put his head "looking the other way" when they made the "penny".....

    Would like to know if this is true ?

    February 12, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Who cares ?

    Ha ha too funny

    February 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. FEAR MONGER !!!!

    One Word CNN-Superstition!!!!

    February 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. pakuna

    I would think he would have a lot to fear since he is one hell of an actor.

    February 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. NEL E BELL

    I HOPE THIS IS NOT WHISTLING PAST A GRAVE YARD PRE. OBAMA. YOU NEED TO PUSH YOURSELF AND STOP THE SYMBOLIC STUFF BUDDY. I VOTED FOR RESULTS NOT SYMBOLS. THE CLOCK IS TICKING , WHERES THE BEEF!!!!!

    February 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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