Monday, January 27, 2014
Yolanda Presburg -- Hypochondria in High C
The wife of a wealthy Chicago banker, Presburg, 41, sang for a decade in the chorus of the Chicago Civic Opera Company and was a member of the New York Grand Opera Choral Alliance. Obsessed with the notion that she had tuberculosis, the Hungarian-born singer checked into a sanitarium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Despite being given a clean bill of health by specialists, she refused to accept their diagnosis. On August 20, 1926, Presburg boarded a North Shore Line train in the Windy City bound for Milwaukee. Registering at the Wisconsin Hotel as "Yolanda Sugar," Presburg took a 7th floor room overlooking an inner court. At 2:50 P.M. guests heard a thunderous crash as the singer slammed into the roof of the hotel ballroom. Barely conscious, Presburg murmured, "I am from Chicago, my husband is not to blame," a phrase she reiterated during the five hours she clung to life in Milwaukee's Emergency Hospital. In her room at the hotel two notes were found, one in Hungarian to her husband, the other addressed to police. The message to authorities read: "Do not blame me for this act and do not blame my husband. I am sorry to do it. I have been suffering from what the doctors call T.B. My husband has done all he can do to cure me, sent me to sanitoria in the south, but it is no use."