The Real Cause of Henry L. Transtrom's Death

cameron's picture
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Henry L. Transtrom is the author of ELECTRICITY at High Pressures and Frequencies and was also a performer of high voltage demonstrations. It has been widely believed that Mr. Transtrom was electrocuted while perform his experiments before an audience in the early 1900s. Legend has it that Mr. Transtrom was sitting on an insulated platform which was connected to the output terminal of a Tesla coil. When the coil was powered on sparks would issue from Mr. Transtrom's fingers or he would illuminate lamps using energy from the coil as it passed through (over) his body. On this particular occasion, when the coil was turned on, an arc emanated from Mr. Transtrom's back and struck an unknown grounded wire or structure behind a curtain on the stage. This alleged incident created a current path through Mr. Transtrom's body and he was killed instantly.

While planning for the S.H.V.E. platform I had numerous people cite this story as they warned me about the dangers of such experiments. While I totally agree that ALL high voltage experiments are dangerous, I was very pleased to learn that the story isn't factual based on the following email:

Hello my name is Tamara (Holm) Zizzo. My father is James Holm, who is the son of Edith (Transtrom) Holm, who is the daughter of the late Henry L. Transtrom referred to on your webpage. I enjoy the fact that my Great-Grandfather is an urban legend, but I regret to inform you that Henry L. Transtrom, did not die performing. He succumbed to Leukemia, with my grandmother at his bedside. I have confirmed this with both my father and my grandmother, who currently resides in California. Do with this information what you will, but since he only had one child who only has one surviving son and 3 surviving grandchildren and 6 great-grand children so far, there are very few people around to set the record straight. I know it makes a better story if he died on stage, so do what you must, but I thought I would let you know.

Tamara Zizzo

The Henry L. Transtrom Wikipedia page has been updated to reflect this same information. I have no idea of how such a dreadful rumor would have been started and grown to such a degree but it would be nice to know the source. If you have any information, please comment on this article.

Cameron B. Prince
Tesla Universe Webmaster

Comments (4)

vest1's picture

Henry Leroy Transtrom (b. 15 Nov 1885 in Atwater, Minnesota; d. 5 Jan 1951 in Los Angeles, CA; mother's maiden name: Kjallberg) (CA Death Index 1940-1997 on On 12 Sep 1918, Henry lived at 6615 1st St NW, WDC with his wife Hannah (b. 25 Nov 1881 in Blackburn, Lanarshire, England; d. 7 Apr 1961 in Los Angeles, CA; Mother's Maiden Name: Wolmsley) and worked as an "Expert Electrician" for Carroll Electric Co, 714 12th St NW, WDC. (WW I Draft Registration Cards)

CYBERYOGI_CO_Windler's picture

That an extreme tesla coil demonstrator like Henry Transtrom died of a cancer (leukemia) may be not unrelated to his experimentation even when the electricity didn't kill him directly.

Regard that the extreme amounts of HF radiation and photonic emmisions (from UV up to x-ray) caused by lightnings outside and inside his body very likely produce plenty of cell and DNA damage suitable to trigger cancer. That strong HF radiation can damage cells is proven, and that even much weaker radiation (e.g. by mobile phones) of suitable resonance frequencies may harm cells is plausible. (See e.g. the experiments by Royal Rife (, who killed certain germs in a petri dish by modulated RF only at specific frequencies. Human cells are certainly similarly vulnerable to certain types of EM signals.)



dqdenyse's picture

There is no other cancer related illness or death in the family and it is very probable that his leukemia was caused by exposure. So many great men and women of science have paid the ultimate price for advancement.

dqdenyse's picture

I am Denyse Holm, Tamara (Holm) Zizzo's sister, and am proud to report that he is now survived by a great, great great granddaughter.

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