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Poet, Actor, Fireman Brick Dead of Cancer at 74

July 25, 1998|CHRIS CEBALLOS

He had a dominating presence. As a poet, actor, bodybuilder and Santa Ana fire captain, Paul Brick inspired excellence. Brick, 74, died last week of prostate cancer.

Brick was best known throughout Orange County poetry circles for his ability to recite from memory--and with zeal--original, modern and classic works.

After his retirement from the fire department in 1986, Brick performed two to three times a week at local coffeehouses and was awarded Most Popular Poet at the annual Factory Readings competition.

Santa Ana College professor Lee Mallory remembers a Veterans Day reading when Brick performed Gen. Douglas MacArthur's farewell address from memory, a 35-minute speech that left many in tears.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1924, Brick joined the Marines at 17 to fight in World War II. During the 45-day trip to Okinawa, Brick began his body building career by making weights from coffee cans and cement on the transport ship.

Returning from the war, Brick met his future wife, Rose, while trying to get a room at the overcrowded YMCA. He then began working as a roustabout in the oil fields of Huntington Beach.

Spotted at Muscle Beach in Venice, Brick got a small role in the Debbie Reynolds' film "Athena" and was considered for the role of Tarzan in the early '50s.

Brick eventually joined the fire department in 1957. After his retirement, he remained a dedicated body builder, winning Orange County and Muscle Beach competitions into his late 60s.

Brick is survived by his wife; daughter, Patricia; and sons, David and Dan.

A service will be held at the Fairhaven Memorial Park Chapel in Santa Ana today at 2 p.m.

The Factory Readings will be dedicating an evening of poetry to Brick on Aug. 4 at the Gypsy Den coffeehouse in Costa Mesa.

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