"I was surprised, happy, and grateful," Oppenheimer said when asked how he felt when he learned of the honor. Oppenheimer has been a member of the Parent Assembly for more than 44 years and has served the New York club in many capacities including President, Secretary and Editor of the Spellbinder newsletter. He is a regular at the weekly "Magic Table" lunch gatherings and was featured in recent news coverage about the Table in The Wall Street Journal and on the Today show. "Jerry has been our unofficial magician of every year, and needs to be recognized as such once and for all time," said George Schindler, Dean of the National Society of American Magicians and a member of the local assembly's Board.
Oppenheimer, who was born in New York, became interested in magic as a youngster and sent away to buy mail order tricks related to the Chandu the Magician radio show. Later, during his career as a court reporter, he was known as the “court magician” performing for judges, attorneys and felons. He also inspired his daughter Janet to pursue magic, and in a New York Times interview she credited her conjuring career as instrumental in her preparation for becoming a noted health care executive, as well as bonding with her parents who were her magic assistants.
Today, at age 93, Oppenheimer displays a twinkling sense of humor when passing out "million dollar bills" to the Magic Table diners, regaling the table with stories about magicians of the past, and in particular talking about his long marriage to his wife Lee. "My best trick was marriage to a woman I'm crazy about," Oppenheimer said. The couple met in the small town of Douglas, Georgia in 1946 when Oppenheimer was stationed there while enlisted in the Air Force. He and Lee had two dates before Oppenheimer was shipped overseas. He wrote and proposed marriage to her by letter. "Here we are 69 years later, with two daughters, and four granddaughters," Oppenheimer commented.
The formal award presentation for Magician of the Year will be made at the upcoming Salute to Magic, the Parent Assembly's annual show, which will be held this spring.