Dorothy Dietrich Biography Society Of American Magicians MUM Final Page 8
ORIGINAL UNEDITED VERSION. This is text of article for use by the visually impared.
said, "You don't want to travel. You are working here. Move into my house. We have lots of
room." We lived there for a year. When we found a place to live, they begged us to stay. They
were wonderful to us. They were business people, we were show business. We complimented
Were people getting used to a female magician by now?
You know, I would still show up to shows carrying my cases and when they opened the door,
they would say, "Hi! Are they going to saw you in half?"
What made you decide to move out of NY?
Show business was changing in NY. The performers union, American Guild of Variety Artists,
wasn't as powerful as it used to be and agents were fading away to become producers who
were taking larger percentages. We felt it was time to leave. It was getting too expensive to live
We got a map and started drawing circles around NYC to see where to move. All of our
connections were in NY so we didn't want to be too far away. Then we bought out of town
newspapers. We weren't going to rent again. We wanted to buy something. One problem, we
had no credit. All those years of renting and we had no documentation of our credit. There was
no way we could get a mortgage. We had to buy something with our savings. The circles got
bigger. When we found a possibility, we would call a realtor and visit the town. We would hang
out in McDonalds and see what the people were like in that neighborhood. Some
neighborhoods changed at night to scary, seedy places.
The circles become even wider. Now Scranton, Pa hits the circle. We look at the Scranton
newspaper and the front page crime was that somebody stole Joey's bike from his porch. The
society page showed all the ladies that got engaged along with a half page photo of a new
Eagle Scout. We wondered if this town was for real?
We knew that Thanksgiving weekend we had no shows so we decided to spend the four days in
A Scranton hotel. We called realtors to see if they would meet us and no one was working
because it was the start of hunting season! We found someone who would meet with us the day
before Thanksgiving. He gave us the MLS books and told us to stop by the office on Friday
he would take us around.
Scranton had a great vaudeville history and it was only two hours from Manhattan. We bought a
building which was a closed synagogue which included the rabbi's house.
We moved all the leftover stuff from the Townhouse to the building. We drove back and forth
For our shows. Then driving back one night during a blinding snowstorm, we decided to only do
shows in Manhattan during the non snow months. We also instituted our Ultimate Solution- we
raised our price.
HOUDINI MOVES IN
One night we decided to open some sort of venue in town. We knew a lot about Houdini. We
collected Houdini. It was a natural progression to open a venue dedicated to Houdini.
Eleven minutes away was another building that at one time was an ice cream parlor, then a grocery store, a bar, and a disco. Then it was going
to be torn down. We bought it.
The house needed 23 windows replaced and a new roof. The Houdini museum building was a
wreck. When it rained outside, it rained inside. It was right off the highway and a perfect location
on Main St. The ceilings were very high so a stage was possible. Party rooms and exhibit rooms
were also here. We poured our show money into it and after a year, we opened it up for tourist
season. We've now been open for 26 years.
Who visits the museum?
Everyone! Tourists, magicians, families, parties. We keep very busy. We have been written up in
multiple magazines and books like Museums you've near heard of. We've won Trip Advisor
awards and have become a very successful business.
Visitors hear a quality story about Houdini. The visit is typically 2 1/2 -3 hours long. They see
rare film footage and then we take them through a guided tour of the collection. Then they watch
a magic show ending with a pitch for items in the gift shop. We also host parties and Haunted
How long are you going to continue?
We are not going to live forever. We would like to pass this on to the next generation. For you to work a place like
this, you need to be passionate about magic and Houdini. You also need to
| be a family of performers who don't mind working day and night. We are not opposed to relocating to another city. If a
community has a dead building to donate, and a historical society that can help put displays
behind glass, that would be a start. Get a 100 year lease and support from the community and
you would have your own Ultimate Solution. The museum is not a typical museum but rather an
entertainment event. It should be treated that way.
Dorothy is extremely grateful for everything that has helped her navigate through life. She
admitted to me that she has many projects to do but doesn't have enough time to get to them
Recently, Dorothy and Dick donated their own money and time to fix up the Houdini Grave. Like
Ninjas in the night, they, along with friend Steve Moore, went to the cemetery and replaced the
bust along with other repairs and cleaning. They friended the cemetery manager and negotiated
the agreement for the S.A.M. Endowment Fund to continue the repairs and maintain the
gravesite. As Dorothy said, "We are not going to be around forever but the SAM will be around
Their current project is a Houdini themed Houdini Opoly Game due out this Summer which meticulously pays tribute to the great showman. (Contact the Houdini Museum for details.)
Whatever their next project, rest assured it will be important and we will be grateful. If you see
Dorothy at a magic convention, go up to her and say hello. She loves to talk to everyone.
And for our current generation of magicians, thanks to this article, we were able to put Dorothy
once again, on a magic magazine cover.
Click here to the beginning of the story
You can listen to the SAM podcast with Dorothy Dietrich by clicking right here
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