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. Realist

    How nieve ... God is a Superstition

    February 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. nclaw441

    Niky, do you think Obama even knew what the superstition was?

    February 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Dylan

    Hard hitting, CNN. I'm sure Brown will have a "no bias" spin on this.

    February 12, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Obama 2.0

    McBeth? How about a McCain or McNugget or any Mc-Burgurish word. HMMMM, McNuggets sound good, Ill take a large with fries please! BOO, the Boogie man's gonna git-cha!

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Kevin

    Not news... not even entertainment.

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. David

    His actions are going to be his downfall, not some silly name that (unfortunately) most uneducated Americans have never heard of before.

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. therealmarie

    Thisaricle is stupid and so are the people who believe in this foolishness.

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. JOHN

    OBAMA -- where is my check

    February 12, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Nico

    It's true; instead, we theatre people say "The Scottish Play".

    February 12, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    when I saw this headline I thought the president had said the "F" word!

    February 12, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. dbogey

    "Trust in God, not superstition."

    Dave in Indiana, god is a superstition...

    February 12, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Terry, TX

    CNN .... a whole day on Lincoln and President Obama....superstition...... hello.
    How about a day that the House of Representative removed the E-Verify portion of the Job Pork Package..... allowing illegal aliens to receive Cobra, social programs ..... now the House does not want to fund E-Verify
    pass March. How would we verify illegal workers? Lincoln wouldn't have a problem... he suspended "habeaus corpus" during the civil war...

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Obama 2.0

    Bad Luck!, and what he inherited from Bush & Chainy...

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

    TEAM AMERICA! FV(K YEAH!

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. jordy

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

    ... like oh my god...

    When would you not applaud obama? Groupie

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. MICK in MESA

    David in Indiana...

    What do you think "Trust in God" is – It's a SUPERSTITION you idoit!

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Jimmy John

    How about this for thought:

    "Many stage afficianados believe that the prohibition only applies to performers or theater hands"

    Aren't all politicians considered actors/performers? Because much of what comes out of a politicians mouth is simply non-fictional (or storytelling if you will). Some great examples of this are "read my lips – no new taxes"

    or

    "President-elect Barack Obama vowed Tuesday to bar lawmakers' pet projects from his massive economic stimulus plan and to bring unprecedented accountability to federal spending."

    Looks like we've had some great actors in office, always convincing in what they say. In the end it is usually empty lies...

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Looking for Truth

    Obama mama you should really learn the English language, or do you keep messing it up because you are having orgasmic feelings run up your leg. Please get a grip.

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. kelly WI

    He is an actor. Notice how quick he changed from the candidate of Hope and change to Fear and catastrophe?
    How quick he changed ffrom ask not what you can do for your country but to ask for what your country can do to you?

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. Brian

    More superstitious crap. It's time to grow up America!
    We have real problems and finally an educated President to deal with them!
    (He didn't step on a sidewalk crack and break his mother in laws back, did he?)

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Alicia

    WHY DON'T REPUBLICANS WEAR FLAG PINS ON THEIR SUIT LAPELS ANYMORE? ARE THEY NO LONGER PATRIOTIC?

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    This and the duke-unc story? Come on cnn, this is fluff.

    February 12, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. frank

    I'd hate to tell you this David, but by definition God is a superstition.

    February 12, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. jaye

    All you have to do is read the message boards online and you'll find thousands of "threats" against our new President.
    The naysayers, mainly republicans, have run our country into the ground over the past 8 years, and I wonder what President Lincoln would have to say about what happened to his party.
    Not only is our country suffering at the hands of the republicans, but it seems (according to the message boards) that they're on a quest to destroy our new president any way possible.
    This is a shameful time for our country – and I blame the republicans.

    February 12, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Daniel Whalen

    This superstition is well founded.

    AND YET

    HOPE is more profound

    and this era of American History is not a dress rehearsal.

    February 12, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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