|Born||May 3, 1947
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Died||Feb. 7, 2000 (at age 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Magician Doug Henning, whose real name is Douglas Doug Henning, was born on May 3, 1947, in Fort Garry, Manitoba, Canada. While growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, as a young boy, he became quite fascinated by magic after watching a magician on The Ed Sullivan Show perform a levitation act. By the age of 14, Henning had developed the levitation act using his sister and even started performing at parties.
Beginning a Career
Henning graduated with a degree in psychology from McMaster College in Ontario, Canada, and he later won a grant of $4,000 from the Canadian Government to finance his study of magic. He won the grant after convincing a panel of several government officials that magic can be considered an art form.
He used the $4,000 and the thousands more he had successfully raised to develop a successful stage show entitled Spellbound, which mainly ran in Toronto.
In May of 1974, Doug Henning took his magic act to Broadway with The Magic Show, which delighted audiences with the unique blend of dance, rock and roll and magic. Henning earned the Tony award nomination having built a very strong reputation as one of the best known magicians in the world.
Moreover, during the close to five-year run of The Magic Show, he performed regularly in several casinos, mainly in Las Vegas and also Lake Tahoe. In 1975, the producers at NBC asked him to perform in a television special all by himself. The inaugural World of Magic show drew 50 million views as he recreated the Water Torture Escape by Harry Houdini before the live audience.
Additionally, the show was held annually from 1975 to 1982. The show earned him an Emmy award and several other nominations, including two Best Variety Special nominations.
His success continued even as he starred in Merlin which was one of Broadway’s most acclaimed show. This earned him five Tony nominations. Henning toured consistently with his magic act which enabled him to maintain his status as an internationally renowned illusionist.
Henning possessed sleight of hand skills and also superior showmanship. He is an expert in several different areas of magic, including stage illusions, close-up tricks, escapology and mentalsim. He studied under Tony Slydini (the Master of Misdirection) which also made him a skilled master of misdirection.
Moreover, Henning has been credited with reviving the public’s support and interest in magic singlehandedly after a very long slump. He achieved this by combining magic with flashy costumes, comedy, and music in order to make it attractive to a new generation. Henning retired when his career was still thriving in the mid 1980s and sold some of his famous acts and illusions to another famous magician – David Copperfield.
Henning has made various unsuccessful bids for political offices in Canada in the 1990s and in England in 1992 as a member of the National Law Party, or NLP. He was deeply fascinated by transcendental meditation, therefore, and he dedicated much of his time to a $1.5 billion theme park foundation dedicated to the practice of transcendental meditation.
Henning was still actively involved in the planning of a park that was to be built near Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, when was diagnosed with liver cancer in late 1999. He was living with his second wife, Debby Douillard, and he had no children. Doug Henning was previously married to Barbara DeAngelis, a self-help author. Henning died on February 7, 2000, at the age of 52.