Doug Henning


Born: 3 May 1947
Died: 7 February 2000 (Liver cancer)
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Best known as: The pixie-ish, big-toothed magician of the 1970s

Doug Henning was a Canadian magician who rekindled audience interest in magic acts with his success on Broadway and TV in the 1970s. Henning began performing magic when he was a teenager, and kept on performing while earning a psychology degree from Ontario's McMaster University. After graduating in 1970, Henning studied magic on a government grant, then collaborated on a stage show with fellow McMaster alumnus Ivan Reitman (later the director of Ghostbusters). Their 1972 production of Spellbound was a hit in Toronto, and by 1974 the show had been adapted for Broadway and renamed The Magic Show. Henning got a Tony nomination and a television contract, and for the rest of the 1970s he was the most famous living magician around. With his wavy, long hair and a bucktoothed grin, Henning wowed audiences with elaborate illusions and a call to "look within, and you can realize your fondest dreams." A follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation, Henning gave up the stage in 1986 to pursue a mission of spiritual proselytizing. He announced in 1992 a plan to build a theme park near Niagara Falls called Veda Land, where tourists could learn "ancient magic secrets," but died of liver cancer in 2000, at the age of 52.

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