The Jewish Museum of New York Presents Houdini in the Popular Imagination with The First Lady of Magic, Dorothy Dietrich

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In conjunction with its new exhibition “Houdini: Art and Magic”, The Jewish Museum is presenting a related programs, "Conjuring Houdini in the Popular Imagination". A panel discussion featuring magicians Dorothy Dietrich, George Schindler and Houdini biographer Kenneth Silverman on November 11 as part of this great event.

Scranton, PA, November 08, 2010 (PressReleasePoint) -- More than 80 years after his death, escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini continues to fascinate and inspire. "The First Lady of Magic" Dorothy Dietrich and "Dean of American Magicians" George Schindler and Houdini biographer Kenneth Silverman will discuss why the legendary magician occupies such a prominent place in American popular culture. The evening will include archival footage of classic Houdini escapes and a special live recreation of his signature straitjacket escape by Dorothy Dietrich.

Dorothy Dietrich, ( http :// DorothyDietrich .com) a magician who has starred on stage and TV, has been called "the female Houdini" and is one of the first women to achieve fame as a magician. She is also co-director of the Harry Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa., and will speak on the panel. She served as the medium during an October 31 séance held at the Scranton Houdini Museum, ( http :// the only building in the world dedicated to the legendary magician. Houdini, as usual, did not return. The seance event was open to the public for the first time in many years. "At 1:26 p.m., the time when Houdini died, a group sits around a table and join hands." She will ask, "Houdini, if you are here, give us a sign." "Houdini said that if he can't escape from the other side, then no one can," said Dietrich, known for having duplicated many of Houdini's famous escapes and often taking them one step further. She is also the first and only women in history to do the Jinxed Bullet Catch in the Mouth, the one stunt Houdini backed away from doing. Scranton museum co-director Dick Brookz ( http :// mysteryentertainer .com) explains that for 10 years after Houdini's death, the magician's wife, Bess, would hold a tribute in the form of a seance on Oct. 31. Once she stopped, the tradition was passed on to friend, Houdini biographer and writer of the famed Shadow series Walter B. Gibson . Before Mr. Gibson died he passed on the honor, legacy and tradition to Dorothy Dietrich. "Houdini spent his life debunking charlatans, exposing them on a regular basis," Brookz said. Houdini provided his wife with a code to authenticate his return, fearful that frauds would take advantage of his death , "The code was based on 'Rosabelle Believe,' " Brookz related. "It was the name of a popular song of the time." Houdini to this day is the iconic magician every young boy that becomes interested in magic wants to emulate. Dorothy Dietrich said she would like to become that icon for young women. George Schindler is a member of the Society of American Magicians' Hall of Fame, starred as " Chandu the Great" in Woody Allen's New York Stories (1989), and is the author of several books.

Kenneth Silverman's books include Houdini!!!; Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage, A Cultural History of the American Revolution; The Life and Times of Cotton Mather (winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Biography); Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance; and Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE Thursday, November 11 6:30 pm Panel Discussion CONJURING HOUDINI IN THE PUBLIC IMAGINATION The Saul and Harriet M. Rothkopf Media Program

Tickets: $15 general public; $12 students/over 65; $10 Jewish Museum members.

“Houdini: Art and Magic” opens on Friday and runs through March 27 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street. http :// thejewishmuseum .org. It will later travel to Los Angeles , San Francisco and Madison, Wis. The show will feature works influenced by Houdini (handcuffs, straitjacket, shackles) and a panel discussion, “Conjuring Houdini in the Popular Imagination.”
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Penny Wilkes
The Houdini Museum
Scranton, PA
(570) 342-5555
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