Doug Henning (May 3, 1947 – February 7, 2000)
Doug Henning was born in Fort Garry (near Winnipeg), Manitoba (Canada). He became fascinated by magic after seeing a levitation act performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. By 14, he was performing at parties and had developed his own levitation act using his sister. Henning graduated from McMaster College in Hamilton, Ontario with a degree in psychology. He won a grant from the Canadian government to study magic and developed a successful stage show, “Spellbound” which ran in Toronto. In May 1974, he took his act to Broadway with “The Magic Show.” Here, he garnered a Tony Award nomination and a reputation as one of the world’s best known magicians. In 1975, he was asked by NBC to do a television special. The show became an annual event between 1975 to 1982 and earned seven nominations. In the early 1980s he starred in a second Broadway show, “Merlin,” garnering five more Tony nominations. Henning retired in the mid 1980s.
Henning is credited with single-handedly reviving the public’s interest in magic by updating and combining it with music, comedy and flashy costumes. He sold some of his most famous illusions to magician David Copperfield upon his retirement. Henning tried to enter politics in both England and Canada in the 1990s. That didn’t pan out so he spent the remainder of his life trying to build a magic theme park to be located near Niagara Falls. Henning was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1999. He died on February 7, 2000 in Los Angeles where he lived with his second wife. Henning had no children.