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Famous Like Me > Actor > H > Doug Henning

Profile of Doug Henning on Famous Like Me

Name: Doug Henning  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 3rd May 1947
Place of Birth: Fort Garry, Manitoba, Canada
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Doug Henning in his standard costume style that changed the image of stage magicians.

Doug Henning (May 3, 1947 - February 7, 2000) born in Winnipeg, Canada. A master magician, illusionist, and escape artist, he is credited with reviving the magic show as a form of mass entertainment in North America, beginning in the 1970s. Henning changed the image of the stage magician when he rejected such stereotypical costume accessories as the tuxedo, top hat, thin moustache, goatee and short hair. He opted instead for long hair, a bushy moustache, and bright multicoloured casual clothes, which gave him a distinctively flamboyant image.

Henning performed his first show at the age of 14 at the birthday party of a friend. He was inspired by his audience's spellbound reaction. Within a few months of placing an ad in a local newspaper, he launched a series of performances on local television in Toronto, and as an entertainer at parties.

After graduating from McMaster University with studies in psychology and perception, Henning turned his full attention to magic. Henning began working as a full-time magician after being awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Grant. The terms of the grant required Henning to study magic. He did so, travelling to view firsthand the talents of magic greats like Slydini and Dai Vernon.

With the intention of returning magic to its "glory days", Henning worked to perfect his craft. Garnering financial support, he developed a live theatrical show: "Spellbound", a musical that combined an intense storyline and Henning's magic tricks. The show hit the stage in Toronto and broke box office ticket records in that city. Henning reworked his show after catching the attention of New York producers, and took it to Broadway under a new title: "The Magic Show". Debuting in 1974, the show ran for 4-1/2 years earning Henning a Tony Award nomination.

Following his Broadway success, Henning was approached by NBC to produce a television special. He spent the next eight months reworking his act for television. Debuting in December 1975, "Doug Henning's World of Magic" captured the attention of more than 50 million viewers. For the following seven years, Doug Henning continued his once-a-year broadcasts, ultimately earning seven Emmy nominations.

Henning relocated to Los Angeles in 1976, and created his own production company. He would later create stage effects for music videos and concerts performed by musicians such as Earth, Wind and Fire and Michael Jackson.

One of Henning's greatest strengths was presentation: his natural exubererance and creativity, and his colorful costumes and props, could make very old illusions seem new, and make simple self-working tricks a child could do seem like miracles.

In December of 1981, Henning married Debby Douillard in Fairfield, Iowa. A talented artist herself, Douillard would spend much of her married life accompanying her husband on tour, co-starring on stage, and helping to design sets and costumes.

Later, he abandoned his performance art in favour of studying transcendental meditation which, he claimed, enabled him to levitate. He also ran in the 1993 federal election in Canada as a candidate for the Natural Law Party of Canada, which proposed yogic flying as a solution to the problems of the nation. (As the party's most famous candidate, he was so prominently featured in their television ads that many voters mistakenly thought he was the party's leader. The party was in fact led by Dr. Neil Paterson.)

One of Henning's greatest ambitions was never realized in his lifetime. In the 1990s Henning joined forces with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to draft plans for a fantastical billion-dollar project called Vedaland that was to "combine astonishing, unique visual and sensory effects, state-of-the-art 3D imagery, and ultra high-tech entertainment technology with his best and most original magic illusion secrets."¹ Vedaland was conceived as a magical Himalayan setting where visitors would be wowed with theatrical presentations of ancient Vedic stories and "the deepest secrets of the universe", while munching on organic vegetarian burgers and snacks.

Henning's unique eccentricity and forays into mysticism have been greeted with ridicule by many. Yet his legacy to the craft of magic is undeniable. His signature parting words from "The World of Magic" still resonate to his admirers with a heartfelt ring: "Anything the mind can conceive is possible. Nothing is impossible. All you have to do is look within and you can realize your fondest dreams. I would like to wish each one of you all of life's wonders and a joyful age of enlightenment."²

Henning died in 2000 of liver cancer at the age of 52.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Doug Henning