For centuries, magicians have been captivating audiences with the power of illusion – making objects seemingly float through the air, or appear and disappear at will. And while there have been hundreds of amazing practitioners of the art throughout history, one name stands out when it comes to the 70s and 80s. Looking like one of the most colorful and happy hippies to ever walk the earth, Doug Henning was a master of the art of magic, and his ever-present smile and enthusiasm compelled millions to tune in with amazement to his numerous television specials over the years.
Thanks to the success of Henning’s Broadway show, The Magic Show, which ran at NYC’s Cort Theater from 1974-1978, NBC approached him to do a special for television called Doug Henning’s World of Magic. Some 50-million people tuned in to the broadcast, and for the next 7 years, Henning would produce a new show each year. He would return to Broadway in 1983 to produce and star in his new show, Merlin, although the show only lasted six months.
Here are a few clips of Doug Henning showing off his considerable skills. The first is a clip from The Magic Show.
Now, the true test of any magician is their ability to perform “close-up” magic. Henning passes the test here, and solves a Rubik’s Cube remarkably fast:
Sadly, Doug Henning passed away from cancer on February 7, 2000 at the young age of 52. But while many have taken his place, none have ever had the same charm, charisma and childlike enthusiasm for magic like Henning.
Do you remember watching his television specials? Did you happen to see The Magic Show or Merlin on Broadway as a kid? Share your memories of Doug Henning with all of us at Retroland, as we remember this one-of-a-kind performer who could conjure smiles and amazement at will.