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. Baze

    He can say whatever he wants. Defying the status quo and breaking down inhibitory walls is the cornerstone of Obama's presidency. Paying tribute to a great REPUBLICAN President is perhaps the smartest political move yet. All G.O.P. that lambast this as showboating stand to look like who they really are: fascists pagan idolators that could care less about America or the Republican party. All they want is a white world where they can be unapologetically ignorant and take whatever they want.

    February 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. no corporate politics

    Oh no CNN – you said "death" – thanks for the opportunity for at least one crazy blogger to cry out for safety against imaginary conspiracies against The One.

    Of course I know there are always real threats – but let's all add some imaginary ones too – as if we don't have enough to worry about in this country.

    Extra points will be awarded to someone using race, Rush, and right-wing, and Palin in the same sentence.

    February 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Bruce

    Some news would be nice. I could have read this in People Magazine or the National Enquirer.

    What's happening with my great-great-great grandchildren's money right now?

    February 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Pepito the Cool

    It's over for Obama. He's doomed politically, socially, and carnally. Good ridance.

    February 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Chris

    i'm an actor. this is bad news. he has to go turn around 7 times and spit or he's messed up. i know somebody who fell through a two story set, broke his leg and got a 7 inch gash on his arm right after he yelled the name of this cursed play – trying to prove that this isn't bad luck.

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. S Callahan

    He's fine.....no curse for him

    It does apply to the performers...drawing on the spirit of the writer in their acting...

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Pam

    Wow, there's some hard hitting news.

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. JA/TN

    the only thing President Obama has to fear is sabotage from the GOP

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Deb

    God Bless You Mr. President and God bless the USA

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. altlic

    Political ticker??? This is not politics. This is the most banal form of gossip. I know my little 2 cents isn't going to change anything, but come on!! The American public is completely anesthetized. Even at this juncture in history. Rome is burning.

    February 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Ok

    This is NOT news.

    February 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. obama-mama

    My president don't believe in that nonsense.

    February 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. mandcmom

    i can't wait to see what the crazies will have to say about this!!!

    February 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Noah

    He IS a performer. That is all he is

    February 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. icruise

    This is not news. I get the impression that they just wanted to use that misleading headline.

    February 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. David in Indiana

    If something bad ever happens to the President, there will be people who believe that this quote is behind it. Trust in God, not superstition.

    February 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. Niky

    I applaud Obama for not sticking to silly superstitions. Go Obama!

    February 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Gigantasaurus

    Is this what you call news? Come on CNN you can do better...

    February 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Melissa

    Superstition is the province of a weak mind. Its just superstition and means nothing at all.

    February 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. LIP

    All the world is a stage and we be but actors upon that stage, so therefore the bad luck applies.

    February 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. RobC

    Is there any substance to be found on CNN? What was Obama trying to communicate? Was there a message? A theme?

    I've got two articles in the ticker about Obama. One is on basketball and the other is on superstitions. Perez Hilton has better analysis than this.

    February 12, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Jim

    Obama forgot to wear the Lincoln top hat - that would make the "similarity" farce perfect!

    February 12, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. Carl Justus

    Superstition is just that superstition. There are all kinds of things people do to ward off bad things happening to them because they believe things will get them if they do not do certain things or do certain things and as you live in different parts of the country more can be added.
    When we have things happen to us that if fate or circumstances of genes not superstition.

    February 12, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. Corey

    Slow news day?

    February 12, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. Roy

    Funny....in the Halls of Congress Republicans seem to be superstitious against muttering the words........STIMULUS PLAN.

    February 12, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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