10 Ways You Know You Are a Magician’s Wife Friday, Apr 14 2023 

Following is a post I wrote in 2013 that’s been my most popular. I thought those of you who haven’t seen it would enjoy it, and those who have, may like to see it again.

From past posts, you may remember that I was married to magician Marshall Brodien until his death in 2019. Marshall was the creator of TV Magic Cards and Marshall Brodien magic sets. He also played the clown/wizard character Wizzo for 26 years on WGN TV’s Bozo Show.

In our 23 years of marriage, I entertained a steady stream of guests at our home to see Marshall and his magic, assisted Marshall on stage a couple of dozen times, and attended countless magic conventions with him. All this magic got me thinking about how it influenced me. Here are my top ten ways.


Mary Doyle Brodien’s Top 10 Ways You Know You are a Magician’s Wife

You know you are a magician’s wife when:

10). There is a magic museum in your home.

9). Your ceilings are decorated with playing cards.

8). You act surprised when you see the same trick for the hundredth time.

7). You are shopping and notice clothes that would look good on stage.

6). You discuss eyeliner and face powders for reducing shine with groups of men.

5). Everyone in your household, including the family dog, is part of the act.

4). A romantic dinner out includes disappearing salt shakers and card tricks for the wait staff.

3). You’re not opposed to your husband coming at you with swords.

2). You look at a box and wonder if you could fit in it.

And the number one way you know you are a magician’s wife –

It’s normal for your husband to tie you up, stuff you into a cloth bag, and lock you in a crate.


I wrote Navigating Alzheimer’s and The Alzheimer’s Spouse for those of you dealing with loved ones with dementia. In these books, I share my stories and concrete guidance to help you on your journey.

When Live Entertainment Was It Thursday, May 21 2020 

Even with limitations due to COVID-19, we have a range of sources of entertainment to choose from. But imagine the world in the late 1800s and early turn of the twentieth century. Television, radio, and of course, the internet, were yet to be invented. Live entertainment was the only option.

Vaudeville was a fun venue that began in the late 1800s in France and became popular in the United States and Canada soon after. Chicago opened its first official vaudeville theater at the West Side Museum in 1882. More theaters seating as many as 2,000 patrons soon followed. Musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, strongmen, impersonators, acrobats, clowns, jugglers, and actors shared the stage for a variety extravaganza.

Irish immigrants took the brunt of crude derogatory jokes for years but then turned the table by becoming the majority of entertainers. My grandfather, Jack Doyle, born in Ireland in 1897, was one of those on stage. Grandpa was fascinating to me, even at a young age. He was funny and gentle. My fondest memory is of him lifting me onto the counter and watching him bake.

According to blurred, undated newspaper clippings, Jack Doyle was a “well-known” Chicago vaudevillian and comedian before and after his military service. Articles state that he was injured in France in 1917 and spent time in military hospitals. The only dated article was of my grandfather in the J.W. Norman Circus in 1925.

Low-priced tickets to cinema movies and the Great Depression led to the extinction of vaudeville by the 1930s. Some of the actors found work in silent movies and then talkies, but most scattered into circuses and traveling shows.

Ironically, before vaudeville ended, my grandfather studied and became a member of the Illinois Association of Physio-Therapists. An undated letter of invitation was sent out announcing that his office on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago was open to treat “sprains, lumbago, sciatica, nervousness, neuritis, neuralgia, poor circulation, rheumatism, dyspepsia, constipation, reducing, and rebuilding through the use of Swedish massage, ultra violet ray, and infrared ray. Grandpa was forced to close his practice when patients were unable to pay during the Depression but continued to be called Doctor Doyle.

Unfortunately, Grandpa passed away when I was only six years-old. It was enough time to leave a memorable mark on me but not longer enough to ask all the questions I’ve had ever since.


Want to see the tiny mustard seed? Check out my post, “Small but Mighty Mustard Seed” as well as “Choosing a Memory Care Home Sight-Unseen” on my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books.

What If? Tuesday, Jan 21 2014 


My friend, Terry Evanswood, called last month to remind me that it was the 20 year anniversary of our friendship. It all  began with a story I wrote for the Chicago Tribune on his non-violent haunted house that he built in a shopping center. I followed that story with a full-length feature article on him, a 23 year-old, award-winning magician.

At that time Terry already performed across the country including at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California and on the Bozo Show. Like a much older sister, I’ve proudly watched his career continue to soar due to his perseverance, perfectionism, and incredible creativity. You can see his spellbinding, family show, the Wonders of Magic, at the WonderWorks theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Terry is the longest-running headline performer in that area.

I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Terry, not only for our friendship, but also the door he opened for me. With him, the magic began. Terry gave me a list of references to contact in regards to the article I wrote on him, and one of those names was my husband, Marshall. I spoke to Marshall over the phone  and then met with him in April of 1994 to interview him for his own feature article. Marshall and I were married the following year. Ironically, Terry’s career began with a gift of a Marshall Brodien magic set when he was a child, so we are connected on several levels.

The first magic show I ever saw in person was Terry’s. Since then, I’ve seen more than I can count. I’ve also met hundreds of magicians and assistants. Marshall is greatly loved and admired in this circle because of his kindness, generosity, and assistance to so many. Upon meeting magic people, some of the respect he’s earned is initially awarded to me as his wife, but I do believe many of the friendships I’ve built in this industry stand on my own merit. I feel a part of this very diverse community and grateful for everyone I’ve come to call my friends.

Reflecting back, I can’t help but wonder, “What if?” I was a single mother of three, working full-time at an advertising agency, and freelancing with the Chicago Tribune when I wrote Terry’s article. What if I hadn’t had the time off to shop at that particular mall, stumble across and inquire about the unusual façade of Terry’s haunted house, pitch the story to the Tribune, continue with a full-page feature on him that required references, was given Marshall’s name as a reference, follow-up with a story on Marshall, and so on?

We never know where a particular decision may lead us. The magic is in trusting our instincts and a path laid out for us that is so much more than we can imagine.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Grandpa Was a Clown Thursday, May 16 2013 

John J Doyle

“I have a weak back.”

“How long have you had it?”

“About a week back.”

I was only six when my grandfather, John “Jack” Doyle, passed away, but I still smile when I remember his face and little comedy bits like this one that he would say.

Grandpa was a vaudevillian in his younger years. According to a handful of undated, poorly photocopied news clips, he was a “well-known” Chicago comedian from vaudeville and traveling shows before and after his military service. Some of the little articles are about upcoming shows and others are updates on his condition after being injured in France during World War I.

Vaudeville was a specific type of entertainment in the United States and Canada from the late 1880s until the early 1930s. It was a variety-type show that featured multiple different acts on one bill. Musicians, dancers, comedians, acrobats, jugglers, and magicians offered an evening of family amusement. It was a time when live entertainment was still king until motion pictures took over that role.

The first official vaudeville theater in Chicago opened at the West Side Museum in 1882. The Clark Street Museum, Olympic Theater, and the Chicago Opera House soon followed. Some of the largest Chicago theaters seated 2,000 such as Academy of Music, the Haymarket, McVickers, and the Majestic, which was later renamed the Shubert.

I can imagine the patrons attending these shows out for a night of fun, dressed in their finery. Men would be dashing in hats and coats while woman were particularly sassy in shorter dresses and flirty hair accessories in the 1920s style.

Maui 2005 022 - Copy

A few years ago I dressed in a flapper dress for Halloween, and I have to tell you, it was so much fun. There is something about that dress that attracted men and women alike and felt festive while wearing it. It also made me feel a little closer to my grandpa, imagining how it would be to have attended one of his shows.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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