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Doug Henning

PostPosted: Feb 19th, '09, 08:55
by TerryC

Doug Henning, one of Canada's best magicians, died at the early age of 52, on Feb 7, 2000. I recall watching him perform a simple illusion where two small pieces of thread are balled up in his fingers and when unwrapped they have become one longer piece. Watching the wonder on his face was magic! It was like he couldn't believe what was happening in his own hands.

Some say that Henning was the magician who most influenced the move away from the stereotypical stage magician (tails, top hat, magic rabbit) with his long hair, bushy mustache and bright clothes.

Unfortunately, he gave up magic in favour of Transendental Meditation. Eventually he tried his hand at politics running for the Natural Law Party. This oddball group suggest that yogic flying (as I recall they used to bounce up and down on mattresses) was the solution for Canada's problems.

Nevertheless, despite an unfortunate (for magic) change of course in his later years, he will always be remembered as one of Canada's great magicians.

PostPosted: Feb 19th, '09, 14:57
by Craig Browning
Doug's departure from magic came as the result of competition (Copperfield) and the fact that he'd not changed much with the times. I remember being backstage with him and Harry Blackstone just before he shut things down, at the Ahmanson Theater in L. A., he was quite heartbroken over the realities he was facing. His "shift" towards promoting Transcendental Meditatiuon being more of a career shift simply due to the loss of his first passion as a rewarding proposition.

Much of the Henning Show ended up with Richard Tutacco and later, Kirby VanBirch who obtained most of Richard's show after his passing. Richard's show being one of the most fun and enchanting programs I've ever seen.

I know that Doug revived the public's interest in magic and in many ways, catalyzed the success of acts like Sigfried & Roy, Kole & Co. and other high profile Vegas shows. Like Mark Wilson, Doug's TV programs likewise served as the impetus to many young people moving into magic -- just look around at the 50ish+ crowd :lol:

Doug Henning

PostPosted: Apr 4th, '09, 11:17
by Allen Tipton
And apart from the beautiful 8 TV Specials, there is the opening of Merlin The musical on the Tony Awards 1983 and of course The other Broadway Musical, The Magic Show,; obtainable on a dvd: distributed by Image Entertainment..Corinth Films No. ID0697/CODVD.
It lasts 105 minutes.
I have also got the LP of the The Magic Show.
Have 7 of the 8 Specials on video but alas, the first one with the Water Torture Cell was on TV just before we purchased a recorder. Never repeated.
*****But in 2011 an American magician sent me his First Special. Hurray!
Such a pity that Merlin was never videoed. Alas, it was at a time when family audiences were avoiding Broadway & not even the the legendary Chita Riveria could save the show.
I did find a copy of the Song Album (published in America) but the local library wouldn't sell it to me. Don't tell anyone but I did photo copy it! :shock:
Paul Daniels once used the opening, .Think About Magic' on one of his TV Specials.

Craig. How great to have met him. The late David Price (the owner of the American Egyptian Hall Museum) wrote to me, when he sent me the Dante 'Trunk press book' saying what a great lad he was but 'would never be accepted as a Great Master Illusionist, because of his 'squeaky voice' and boyish personality.'!!

There is also the Twin Sawing on one of the awards shows assisted by Maureen Stapleton & Ricky Schroeder and a TV Programme made in Germany; I think as it has German dialogue superimposed on it on my copy.

*******NOTE: In March 2012 there are sets of his Specials and other work offered on E Bay. 3 DVDS.

Allen Tipton

PostPosted: Apr 4th, '09, 15:16
by Craig Browning
I never really got to know Doug but the few times I spent around him were quite memorable... then again, the famed Henning Auction of the early 80s was just as memorable... people were getting brand new Owen Zig Zags (as an example) for as little as $50.00... it was nuts!

Peter Pit and I made it to see Merlin closing night at Doug's invite and I can assure you that this will be a most precious part of my memories; both, for seeing the show and too, being with two individuals that evening, who had a serious impact on my life as a performer (Peter was a good friend as well as coach of sorts, when it came to some of my work).

Doug had a couple of sets on those Sawings, one of which used large discs for doing the cuts... memory serving me right, these were used in the Earth, Wind & Fire concerts at one point and last time I saw them was in John Gaughan's warehouse along with a few other crates filled with Doug's stuff, items from the EWF concerts and the Alice Cooper Nightmare shows (hehehe).

PostPosted: Apr 7th, '09, 03:45
by TonyB
Watching Doug's TV specials is one of the things that inspired me to become a magician. His newspaper tear was so good. His sands of India was fantastic. But people shouldn't be so cynical about his espousal of Transcendental Meditation. Although some of the claims made for it are stretching the research a bit, there is no doubt that it is a very effective way of reducing stress and clearing the mind. Doug and the rest of the Yogic Flyers never claimed that they could actually levitate. They openly acknowledge that the "flying" is a purely physical hoping. But the point of it is that it is done during meditation and is quite a profound mental experience.
It's a shame he died so young. I understand he was planning a comeback. No one can stay at the top for ever, but it would have been interesting to see what he was capable of in his fifties.

PostPosted: May 6th, '09, 11:49
by gypsyfish
When I was in college, Doug performed at my school, West Virginia University. After his fantastic performance, he and his crew, met people backstage to talk and shake hands. While people were crowding around him (I remember one magician friend of my trying to impress Doug with his business card), two women friends of mine stood off to the side, just watching. Within a few minutes, Doug sidled up and started chatting with them. Later, he and his people and some of us fans went to the local Holiday Inn bar. He talked about a lot things, including TM. He was just so durn nice.

A friend and I went back to the friend's house to talk about the evening, when the two women, I mentioned before, returned home. (They lived above my friend.) One of them stuck her head in and "We're home" and we said good night. The next day, the women said that Doug had come home with them and they talked late into the night. They were trying to get us to come visit, but we didn't get it. We felt pretty stupid.

So I can't say that I knew Doug Henning, but when I met him, back in the day, he was a great guy. And a fantastic performer. But mostly, a great guy.

Re: Doug Henning

PostPosted: May 6th, '09, 13:00
by Mandrake
Allen Tipton wrote:The Magic Show,; obtainable on a dvd: distributed by Image Entertainment..Corinth Films No. ID0697/CODVD. list this at just under a tenner but Region 1, or multi-region, players only as it's shipped from the US with the possibility of taxes/import charges on delivery.

PostPosted: May 6th, '09, 13:13
by daleshrimpton
for a couple of months, Doug lived about a mile and a half from me.
I found out too late.
in the next vilage to me, is Taplow court. Its an impressive red stone building, perched on top of a hill. you cant miss it if you ever go on the paddington/reading rail line.
its just before maidenhead... anyway, the building was home to the T.M movement, when they tried to get people to stand for parliament.. and Doug stayed there for a while. it would of been fantastic to shake his hand.. and say thank you .

Doug Henning

PostPosted: May 6th, '09, 16:27
by Allen Tipton
Mandrake: Mine just says NTSC on the back and plays on all 3 dvd players here. Mind you my magician protege had a list of 'numbers' which he entered and our players/recorders seem to play everything.

Cannot remember where I bought it from, NOT Amazon I don;t think?? but it was off the Internet.

Dale: Heavens & Abracadabra, WHAT a missed opportunity.

Most professionals will welcome the amateur & semi pro. I'm sure DH would have.BUT you backstage visitors, choose the right time, AFTER the show and NOT on the last night. Get permission FIRST. Remember your manners. The Great One has just done a show. Don't ask how things are done and DON'T, as 2 magicians I used to know, take a tape measure to measure up the dimensions of the illusion boxes!! :oops:
:oops: :x
The only one that didn't was when Leslie Melville & I tried to meet Jasper Maskeleyne backatage at Dudley Hippodrome. We were both 14/15 at the time.
It didn't help matters that we'd both gone up on stage to assist him in Selbit's Through The Eye Of A Needle (The 2 barrels with a steel plate in between and a girl passes through it), and Leslie, testing the steel plate was real, smashed the wooden mallet. :oops: To this day he denies he broke it!!

Little did I think I'd a stand in the same spot on that stage, 2 years later,winning Opportunity Knocks with my Vent Act.
All I could think about was..'Dante stood here in 1947!'

Allen Tipton

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 10:04
by Mandrake
Finally got around to ordering this just over a week ago, the scheduled delivery date was September 30th but it arrived today - nice one Amazon USA!

It plays fine on InterVideo DVD player but Windows Media Player can't handle it! Fromw a swift and sneaky preview this morning, I can see this being a joy to watch and it would be good to find DVDs of Doug's TV specials at some point.

Doug Henning

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 11:20
by Allen Tipton
Mandrake Will pm you.


You really should get the newly published & superb book in Doug Henning.
I sent to USA at the beginning of August and it arrived, also, just 6 days later. Cost £38 with airmail but I THINK it is now on sale over here. Try Top Secret Magic.
Must get my review of it, on TM.


1. 1975, The World of Magic, featured The Water Torture Cell.

2. 1976, DH's World Of Magic , featured The Vanishing Elephant.

3. 1977, featured Walking Through A Wall.

4. 1978 featured The Tiger's Cage to inside a mummy transposition.

5. 1979 featured The Giant Mousetrap Game.

6. 1980 featured The Indian Rope Trick & The Jarrett 21 Person Cabinet
as a Gazebo.

7. 1982 (Feb) Doug's Magical Dream House featured The Zebra Illusion.

8. 1982 (Nov.) Magic On Broadway featured the Vanish Of 1 million
Dollars, real money. And yes it did re appear!

The early ones were LIVE but after the tigers got loose backstage
the latter ones were recorded.
Artistes featured included , Bill Cosby, Gene Kelly, Sandy Duncan, Marie Osmond, Ann Reiking,Tom Bosley, Glenn Campbell, Ricki Schroeder etc.

We also had Doug performing the Twin Sawing In Half at an awards show with Maureen Stapleton & Rick Schroeder assisting. NOT being sawn!
The Opening of Merlin, again in an Awards Show.
Merlin was never filmed. Very Sad. This clip & somewhere, a TV advert in the US are the only visual reminders of a family show that should have gone on beyond its several months run. NY was, at that time a little suspect for family outings.

There is a Song Book from the Show but alas our local library wouldn't sell it to me. However???? I did try to obtain one from the US publishers but they seem to disappear!
ALL were shown on UK TV except No. 4.

Luckily I have all the above, except the No. 1 Special. Ouch!
It was shown here in 1980, We just did not have a VCR till later in 1980. I am still in hopes.

I also have a half hour of DH on German TV & the LP of The Magic Show.

Allen Tipton

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 11:49
by daleshrimpton
M.B.B.P Stock the book, as does worldmagicshop.
I really should start to send a heavy hint to Santa! :)

Ive had the magicshow dvd for a few years now.. It was a gift.
As you have no doubt read, it's a record of the Canadian revival. I would love to see film of the first production. But then, Im guessing that Merlin is out there somewhere, laying on a shelf gathering dust. It must of been filmed, because there are odd clips around on line.

I have on vhs, fading recordings of 3 of the specials. Since i taped them when they were first broadcast over here.. ( usualy on a bank holiday monday on itv)
there showing their age. I would dearly love to have them on dvd.
I can transpose them, but hate the thought that they will dissapear in the process.
so teh tapes sit there.. gathering dust.

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 11:55
by Mandrake
The trailer for Merlin is on YouTube and I'd hope that someone connected with the show made recordings, even old Super 8 footage would be good!

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 11:58
by daleshrimpton
Stienmyer Must of filmed the magic, just to check that it worked.Ive only seen a brief few seconds of Mascot moth, and the palmer chair production.

PostPosted: Sep 15th, '09, 12:02
by Mandrake
Mascot Moth .... the stuff of dreams... Nowwhere's that Genie when I need him?

(Mandrake frantically rubs lamp to no avail. Just gets Brasso all over his hands...)