By DANIEL E. HARMON
A London coroner attributed
the death to "misadven-
ture." What more could he
say? On March 13, 1918,
world-famous showman W. ¨ E. Robinson, alias Chung Ling Soo, was "catching bullets" in a plate at the Wood Green Empire. The gun's discharge mechanism went afoul at an unfortunate instant; the final curtain fell on Chung Ling Soo, one of 12 per- sons known to have died while at- tempting to catch bullets. Harry Houdini, possibly the greatest self-promoter of all time, quickly an- nounced that he would perform the deadly feat at an upcoming convention of the Society of American Magicians. His old mentor Harry Kellar got wind of it and fired off a letter. "Don't try the damn bullet catching trick," he warned, "no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will 'job' you. And we can't afford to lose Houdini. " Few men were more resolute than Houdini, but he was no fool. He knew that Kellar, a master magician, had investigated the stunt himself. There must be ample reason for such strong advice. Houdini quietly withdrew his plan. At a Pittsburgh convention of the In- ternational Brotherhood of Magicians
|(IBM) last July, petite magician Doro-
thy Dietrich was scheduled to receive
a bullet, fired through a glass pane, in
a specially coated cup in her mouth.
She, too, had warnings. "Andrew is
afraid you will not be here for his sixth
birthday to make the rabbit disap-
pear," her attorney wrote, not at all in
jest. Her marksman, a Vietnam vet-
eran, was not told until the evening be-
fore that he would be shooting directly
at a friendly American woman. He had
trouble sleeping. He was dripping wet -
DOROTHY is hurled backward against a all by the Impact as the rifle bullet slams into the metal catcher in her mouth
|as he took aim. But the stunt went pre-
cisely as planned.
Miss Dietrich, who repeated the test before "You Asked for It" television cameras, has become the first woman to catch a bullet in her mouth. Mean- while, numerous artists have repeated Houdini's famed Milk Can Escape, his extrication from the Chinese įWater Torture Cell, and his exploits while submerged and suspended -often with the added suspense of a burning rope, which Houdini avoided. Cable
THE COURAGEOUS beauty Is be- ginning to recover from the impact of the bullet moments after the shot from her assistant
|television has filmed Miss Dietrich es-
caping from a straitjacket while hang-
ing from a burning rope, 15 stories
Miss Dietrich, on the strength of her televised stunts, could claim preemi- nence, although she pays deference to Houdini. She essentially is a magician, distinguished as the first woman to saw a man in half; Garry Moore was one victim. Yesterday-Halloween-was the anniversary of Houdini's death.
|(It also was the birthday of Dorothy
Dietrich, who does not consider the
Yet the question of Houdini's all-
time superiority in his chosen profes-
sion is open. His greatest escapes have
been duplicated many times over and
occasionally taken a step further. The
successors are well-tried, for today's
public Is more critical than that of the
early century, when much of society
actually believed in magic.
" Houdini had an unusual act," says
82-year-old Walter Glbson, one of
Houdini's last living associates and a
prolific writer on illusions and es-
capes. "A lot of people believed that he
was either supernatural or had some
The question remains: Was -and is
-Harry Houdini the escape doyen he
claimed to be?
Mr. Gibson gives a final yes-and-no.
"A great many have surpassed him in
certain ways," he observes. "But the
thing about Houdini wu that he was
unique. He was very dynamic. He did
things his own way. As a showman he
was the equal of Barnum."
Daniel E. Harmon is a freelance writer with a special interest in magic and magicians.
Go to Dorothy_Dietrich_US_Magazine Feature Story
Go to Dorothy Dietrich First Woman To Do The Original Official Broken Wand Ceremony For Houdini.
Go to First Lady Of Magic-Female Houdini-Weekly World News
Go to the photo session that made one of her posters possible.
Go to Ron Walotsky: the world famous fantasy artist who painted this poster. He also did covers for Conan the Barbarian.
For availability call The Houdini Museum at (570) 342-5555
Go to Magician Dietrich with celebrities such as Robert Klein, Muhammed Ali, Tony Curtis, Kiss, Tom Snyder, Bill Cosby, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, David Copperfield, Doug Henning, etc
Go to Magician Dietrich with some of her pet animals.
Go to Magician Dietrich's exhibit at The Houdini Magic Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls before it burned down
Go to Magician Dorothy Dietrich's performing and winning first prize at the New York City Book Fair and representing Harper Collins new book by author Kenneth Silverman, "Houdini!!!".
Go to some of Magician Dorothy Dietrich's television appearances.
Go to Magician escape artist Female Houdini (tm) Dorothy Dietrich doing a daredevil style upside down Straight Jacket Escape 150 feet above the earth suspended from a burning rope after being put in by police and security guards. The only woman in history to do this stunt.
Go to Female Magician Dietrich doing the famous jinxed bullet catch stunt at Resorts International, the stunt that has killed twelve men, and injured many others. She is the first and only woman to ever catch a bullet in her mouth. Dare devil/magician Houdini backed away from doing this stunt!
Go to Woman Magician Dietrich doing the Jinxed Bullet Catch Stunt for the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Go to The Famous Houdini Museum, of which Dorothy Dietrich is a director..