2022 SAM Parent Assembly Magician of the Year
As I’m sure you are aware, each year at its Salute to Magic show Parent Assembly honors a Magician of the Year, someone who has been influential as a magician and has also given back substantially to the world of magic.
It may be unusual to honor a duo of magicians jointly as Magicians of the Year, but we are very pleased to say that is exactly what we are doing in recognizing Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz as this year’s award winners. In explaining the selection, First Vice President Sterling Lee commented that Dick and Dorothy were chosen because they each have had impressive careers as performers, and together have had a remarkable impact on the world of magic at large. As the proprietors of the Magic Town House in the 1970s and 1980s Dorothy and Dick were responsible for creating a rare hub for magic in New York, a venue that included a magic cabaret, a family magic theatre, a magic shop and a TV studio.
The Townhouse presented shows with a wide variety of established and emerging magicians but a big part of its legacy is that it helped to launch the careers of scores of younger magicians, many of whom have become influential themselves and remain so today. One of the goals of the establishment was to develop future generations of magicians. Originally opened by Eddie Davis, it was taken over by two professional performers, Dick Brooks (entertainer) and Dorothy Dietrich. They encouraged new and unknown performers by allowing them to perform after the main acts had gone on. Some of the magicians who got their early start at The Magic Towne House includes Robert Baxt, Michael Chaut, Devlin, Eric DeCamps, Imam, Jeff Justice, Peter Kougasian, Landis & Company, Levent, Jeff McBride, Charlie Mount, Otto and George, Johnny Ace Palmer, Joeseph Pepitone, Joe Raven, David Regal, Tom Frank, Rocco Silano, Peter Samelson, and Meir Yedid. Along with these great entertainers behind the scenes was Pedro Flores who at the time a High School student in New York, helped with children’s parties and other events serving the buffet items and setting up and cleaning afterward. He was from time to time a performer as well. He was a student of Dick Brooks when Brooks taught at the Frank Garcia’s School of Magic in New York City.
Wanting a larger facility and a place to house their collection of Houdini memorabilia, Dorothy and Dick subsequently opened The Houdini Museum & Theater in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which they run today. In 2014 they created a board game based on the Houdini Museum, named HoudiniOpoly, which took two years to develop. Also in 2014, Dorothy & Dick were responsible for the discovery and restoration of Houdini’s film, the long lost “The Grim Game.” It was presented to the world as the feature film at the Turner Classic film festival in Los Angeles in 2015.
For many years they maintained Houdini’s grave site, and they replaced Houdini’s missing statuary bust there that was destroyed by vandals in 1975.
Dorothy Dietrich has been a pioneering force in magic, gaining international attention for a series of daring escapes and magic effects. She accomplished these achievements at a time when there were few prominent women in magic, paving the way for succeeding generations of female conjurors. Dorothy is best known for being the first and only woman to do the bullet catch in her mouth. She is the first and only woman to perform a straitjacket escape while suspended hundreds of feet in the air from a burning rope which she performed while starring in an HBO Special called The World’s Greatest Escapes. As a teenager, Dorothy was referred to as “The First Lady of Magic”, (a reference later copied by others). Often referred to as the female Houdini, she has duplicated many of Houdini’s original escapes. In addition to performing the Jinxed Bullet Catch Stunt, the one that Houdini backed away from, Dorothy was the first woman to gain prominence as an escape artist since the days of Houdini.
Dorothy is well known for turning the tables on the classic sawing a woman in half. She saws men in half. Among her many victims have been comedian Robert Klein who she bisected on his national TV show. She has appeared often on television including Tom Snyder, To Tell The Truth, Real People, PM Magazine, Deals from The Dark side, Dead Famous, Just for the Record, the Best of Everything, The Travel Channel Mysteries at the Museum, Atlantic City Alive, The History Channel, the Learning Channel, Good Morning New York, Joe Franklin, and more.
The 2006 Columbia Encyclopedia included Dietrich among their “eight most noted magicians of the late 20th century.” She has been featured in The New York Times and entertainment writer Samantha Hart in her book “Hollywood Walk of Fame: 2000 Sensational Stars, Star Makers and Legends,” called her a “world-class magician” and “one of the world’s leading female magicians.” Dorothy was also the inspiration for Erin Callahan’s young adult novel “The Art of Escaping.”
Dick Brookz began his career in show business at the age of 10, and since that time has worked in TV commercials, stand-up comedy, children’s entertainment, and army shows, and performed in night clubs, theaters, casinos, and corporate settings. As a teenager Brookz joined the Peter Pan Magic Club. The club changed its name to Future American Magical Entertainers (F.A.M.E.) on Brookz’s suggestion. This laid the foundation for the Society of Young Magicians which was started in 1984 by the S.A.M. As a teenager, Brookz was booked as a regular performer doing comedy commercials for Tootsie Rolls, on the Paul Whiteman TV show “Teen Club” in Philadelphia. He was eventually replaced by 23-year-old announcer Dick Clark. In 1972 Brookz appeared on an episode of The David Susskind Show about young comedians. Drafted into the army he was placed in Special Services, the entertainment branch of the military as a comedian. After leaving the military he became a songwriter, writing dozens of songs including the successful track “Power House.” In the 1970’s, Brookz established a 64-page magazine for magicians, Hocus Pocus magazine, which was published for three years.
Brookz has been featured as an Houdini historian for numerous media outlets and has appeared on TV often. He has also worked as a magic consultant for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Woody Allen’s “The Floating Light Bulb” at New York’s City Center, and for Radio City Music Hall. He has written several books, and invented a number of magical effects. He is currently starring in Psychic Theater’s production “HAUNTED! Mind Mysteries & THE Beyond!”