Thursday, March 26, 2015

Touring Houdini's L.A. with Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz

On Tuesday, March 24 (Houdini's 141st birthday), I had the extreme pleasure of giving Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Scranton Houdini Museum a tour of Houdini's Los Angeles. Dorothy and Dick are in town to introduce The Grim Game during its world premiere at the TCM Classic Film Festival on Sunday. I live tweeted the tour @HoudiniWild (#houdinitour). For those who didn't follow, here are some pics and highlights of our day.

Meeting my heroes! Picking up the legendary Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz at the historic Hudson Apartments on Hollywood Blvd. The Grim Game and Terror Island producer Jesse L. Lasky built the Hudson in 1917. Did Houdini himself ever stay here? Possibly.

First stop: The Hollywood Heritage Museum barn, which was once housed offices of the Famous Players-Lasky studio where Houdini made The Grim Game. Dorothy shared stories of working with Tony Curtis with fans Joe Fox and Bullet Valmont.

Special surprise stop at The Magic Castle where Librarian Lisa Cousins slipped us into The Inner Circle and gave us a private look at their locked case of Houdini treasures. We also picked up our official photographer and cameraman for the day, the great and never shy, Joe Monti.

Just a short walk from the Castle is an unofficial "Magicians Row" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. First up on the boulevard is, of course, Houdini himself!

It's easy to get distracted in Hollywood. Back to the tour...

The apartment building where Harry Blackstone Sr. lived his final years. He passed away here.

The house where Ed Saint and Bess Houdini lived in the 1930s around the time of the Final Houdini Seance. A beautiful house (privately owned) that is remarkably unchanged.

Another very special treat. We were allowed behind the private gates of the "Houdini Estate" in Laurel Canyon for a tour with a true Houdini treasure, Patrick Culliton (Houdini's Ghost). Thanks to owner José Luis Nazar for letting us see the beautiful grounds...

...and some of the amazing Houdini artwork within.

Dick Brookz contemplates the unmarked final resting place of Edward Saint at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Got this shot right before we were warned by security that photos in the cemetery were not allowed. Too late!

The former First Spiritualist Church of Los Angeles where Houdini took a photograph that even he couldn't explain. Not looking so great these days. Could be this famous Houdini site won't be around for much longer.

The former Los Angeles Examiner building where Houdini did a suspended straitjacket escape in 1923. Remarkably unchanged, although the building is now empty. Another site to see before it possibly vanishes for good.

A short walk from the Examiner building is the Los Angeles Orpheum Theater where Houdini performed in 1915 and 1923. This is where Houdini had his verbal bout with heavyweight boxing champ, Jess Willard. Today it is the Palace, but the Orpheum name is still clearly visible on the building facade.

We planned our last stop to be Glendale Forest Lawn Cemetery to see the grave of Jacob Hyman, but we were running late and the cemetery was closed. So we instead concluded our day with drinks high above downtown at the Ace Hotel, which turned out to be a perfect way to end our Houdini Tour of L.A.

Who needs a beautiful view when you have Joe Monti!

My next LIVE TWEET event will be from the premiere of The Grim Game on Sunday @HoudiniWild (#houdiniday).


  1. Many years ago, took my young sons and wife to the Scranton museum, thinking it was JUST a museum. As I'm a hobbyist and my boys were just getting into magic, thought it would be fun. Imagine our absolute delight to be taken into the intimate theater and be entertained by Dorothy and Dick with a charming and polished professional show! It is a fond memory of our entire family. Thanks, Dorothy and Dick!

  2. I was under the impression that Bessie and Ed Saint were staying at the San Marcos Hotel, which was at that time full of vaudevillians, at the time of the seance. The old timers told me about visiting them at 1616 N. Curson and 2435 Laurel Canyon and the San Marcos on Western. And there was at least one other address. As I said Ralf M. Walker died Feb. 2, 1935. Bessie stayed on his estate until it was sold and I'm trying to get an exact date for that. Those photos I posted of Houdini diving into a pool were taken right where we were walking.

    1. I've been trying to nail down all the different locations Bess and Ed lived in during their Hollywood years. So far I have five (not counting the sanatarium in the end). I believe San Marcos was their last residence, and that was in the '40s. That's where Milt Larsen remembers visiting her. Curson is the address you hear most often mentioned around the time of the seance, and I believe where they lived for longest period. But I admit I don't know for sure. Just making that leap for now. I don't think we know any of the exact dates of any location.

  3. Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz;
    We have to say everyone here in Hollywood has been amazing. John Cox, Pat Culliton, Joe Fox and Joe Monti. (Alpha order). Their kindness and generosity is overwhelming. You've touched our hearts deeply. We will remember this trip forever. This will go down in our lives as one of our most wonderful experiences. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    The Houdini Museum, Scranton PA.
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

    1. Thank you D&D. And just think, we haven't even gotten to the main events yet! :) See you in a few hours at the Castle for our "Houdini Nuts" lunch.

    2. A special thanks to Lisa Cousins for the amazing Magic Castle Library visit.
      Dorothy and Dick

    3. Yes, thank you Lisa! The Castle has HH treasures even I didn't know about.

  4. Love the Houdini quote about science! Gonna use that one soon. Delightful tour, thanks for posting.

  5. D&D, it was an honor to meet you both. Glad you're enjoying your time in L.A. See you at the Game!

  6. (unless i can make it to lunch at the Castle, but that might take a feat of magic)

    1. Try your best Bullet! Be great to have you. We will probably be there until 3ish.

  7. Good job posting the tour. I followed it all the way.

  8. Looks like you guys had a great "Birthday Bash"
    Guess what I will be doing Sunday ? ;-). Have great day.