Dorothy Dietrich Biography Society Of American Magicians MUM Page 1
ORIGINAL UNEDITED VERSION. This is text of article for use by the visually impared.
Dorothy Dietrich - A Great Escape
by Bruce Kalver
A few years ago, I was at a party at Fantasma Magic Shop in New York City. The party was
honoring the performers and friends who were to appear at the following night's Parent
Assembly's Salute to Magic Show. I was standing in the corner (as I usually do) watching and
listening to the celebrities when I saw a magician walk over to the people next to me. Those
people were Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks. The magician kissed Dorothy's hand and said,
"Dorothy, you look exactly like you did on those magic magazine covers in the 70's. You are
beautiful." I remember seeing those covers too. She looked like a living Barbie Doll. It was so
unusual to see a woman on the cover that wasn't being sawed in half or floating. Dorothy was
getting out of a straitjacket. Dorothy Dietrich pioneered the idea of a female magician during the
Doug Henning era appearing on many magic and variety shows on NBC, ABC and HBO.
The first time I saw Dorothy live was at an SAM Convention at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. I saw
Dorothy and Dick in the dealers room but was uncomfortable approaching them. I had nothing
to talk about and was not the type of person to gawk at celebrities. After all, she was a big name
in the NY magic scene.
Years later, I finally talked to them. It was at a Boston SAM Convention They had just started the
Houdini Museum and I introduced myself. We had a nice chat about seances and murder
mysteries and my grandfather's connection with Houdini. They were friendly, welcoming, and
charming. She still looked like those magazine covers.
I had written a few cover stories for M-U-M about the unusual backstories of magicians like
Steve Bargatze, Eric Jones, and Mat Franco. At Bob Little's Super Sunday, Dick Brooks (whose
real name is Johnny Bravo) suggested that I speak to Dorothy about a possible magazine story.
I mentioned that I only did stories about people who had unusual circumstances in their lives.
He told me one story. When he finished, I was interested.
On a very late night last winter, I interviewed Dorothy and Dick about their involvement in
recovering Houdini's lost film, The Grim Game. (You can hear that interview on the SAM website
in the Backstage / SAM Podcast area.) After the interview Dorothy told me a couple of other
stories about her past. On speculation, I arranged another interview for the next night. The four
hour interview was filled with shock, luck, hope and joy. I pitched the interview to editor Michael
Close and he agreed to publish it.
Dorothy and Dick are always interviewed together. Their lives are so intertwined, they have to
do it together. Dorothy tells the stories and Dick adds the footnotes. They never interrupt