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. Ed

    Who writes this middle-ages trash?

    February 12, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. Virginia

    He didn't have to utter that word to doom his luck–it is doomed because of the stupid spending package just passed!

    February 12, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Simon

    President Obama can relax. The "prohibition" on actually saying "Macbeth", when referring to Shakespeare's play, applies only to actors and those professionally engaged on producing it on stage, who always refer to it as "The Scottish play". It doesn't apply to academics teaching it either, since there is no such oeuvre in the canon of Shakepeare's dramatic works as The Scottish Play.

    February 12, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Mike

    Congratulations.....I admit I was wrong President Obama.....I did not think that your stimulus plan would create jobs due to the amount of waste in it.....

    I am finally willing to admit how wrong I was.....it has already created at least one job in Massachusetts....

    Our esteemed govenor...your friend Deval Patrick....yesterday two minutes after the agreement was reached has now hired a.....

    "spending czar" at $150,000 a year to "oversee" the spending of all our federal money coming in.

    Great job President Obama.....

    Through him....with him....in him.....
    in the unity of Pelosi and Reid....
    All Glory and Honor is yours almighty Obama...
    Forever and ever.

    February 12, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. M. Romero

    Give me a break! Seriously?

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Eyes of Texas are Upon You

    All you people that bash FOX news might better rethink watching it to get the real truth. Here are the stats IF CNN WILL POST THIS:

    FOXNEWS O'REILLY 3,494,000
    FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,658,000
    FOXNEWS BECK 2,370,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 2,305,000
    FOXNEWS SHEP 2,190,000
    FOXNEWS GRETA 1,847,000
    CNN KING 1,761,000
    MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,485,000
    CNN COOPER 1,286,000
    CNN BLITZER 1,246,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 1,240,000

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. joe

    I've fallen into the Macbeth trap myself but c'mon, it's just a superstition. No one have ever done a science experiment on the rate of catastrophes that occurred now have they?

    What's next for America? Will we all avoid the cracks in the sidewalk when we walk to lunch?

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Michael

    "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."

    This is awful, whom taught you English?

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Kevin Johnson

    This is not news! hey, Campbell Brown, you may want to talk to your peers about what real news is as this is bull!

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. Virginia

    He didn't have to utter that word to bring bad luck to himself. He already did that when he came up with that stupid spending package and they passed it. Bad luck for us, that is!

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. Dexter in Houston TX

    Slow day in the news room, huh guys...geez!

    February 12, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Paul

    Spending intellectual is energy on a story as macabre as this is unnecessary and unhealthy. CNN....please spend your time investigating and explaining the reasons for the global economic crisis and educate the public on what needs to be done to help America recover. This is not the time for twisted jokes.

    February 12, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Chris

    He should have referred to it as "that Scottish play"...rookie mistake. Too bad it will cost him his legacy. Shame, that. 😛

    February 12, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Mike, Syracuse NY

    I'm not superstitious at all, knock on wood.

    February 12, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Clay

    SInce the internet is in many cases a true theatre of the absurb – and I refer more to the pathetic quality of our news than to anything found on UTube – I say: Macbeth, Macbeth and Macbeth once again!

    February 12, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. fred

    That is the cheesiest thing I ever read

    February 12, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. mjm

    Bad luck, bad spending policy.... we're screwed.

    February 12, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Howard

    Oh, pullleeeease!

    February 12, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Geoff

    Oh for the love of Pete. Could CNN please stick to actual news in these incredibly difficult times? This story is beyond frivolous, and in the end you undermine it's entire existence by pointing out (quite rightly) that "Macbeth" (there, I said it) is only verboten among folks in the world of theater. High school and college students discussing the play don't worry about referring to it by name and neither would Obama. He's worried about the largest financial catastrophe since the Depression, as should you be. Get your act together and quit wasting everyone's time with non-stories like this and the one about a Palin-Ayers talk show. You're sounding more and more like a local TV news station.

    February 12, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. MICK in MESA

    Those that believe that "Macbeth" nonsense must be right-wing evangelical repugs given all the biblical fairy tales they think are true.
    COME ON AMERICA! Give up the irrational and use reason to solve our real-world problems, not hokey superstitions or mumbo-jumbo. Remember, it's Darwin's birthday today so show some 21st century respect for intelligent thinking...

    February 12, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Stealth62

    I agree with Gigantasaurus.

    February 12, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. rich

    Yeah...he has the media to fear.

    February 12, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Once you vote Black

    Do you think he knew this when he made the statement? This guy has to be careful. He has a lot of work to do.

    February 12, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Lush Limprick, the real head of the RNC

    If there is a problem maybe the half-wit will provide the services of her witch doctor minister or Jindal can perform an exorcism.

    Those are the only two that I know that believe in superstitions.

    February 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Jean

    Where is this Ticker?

    Governor Palin's Pipeline has Support in the White House

    President Barack Obama on Wednesday called Alaska’s proposed natural gas pipeline “promising” as a national energy resource and pledged to discuss it with Canadian leaders during his Feb. 19 trip to Ottawa

    Let me see it does not support your hate bashing of the Governor.

    February 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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