John Cox: Part Four

What was your reaction at the time to his retirement from magic and his surprising death in 2000?

I don’t remember it being an announced thing. It was just Doug Henning seemed to have drifted away, and David Copperfield had kind of replaced him as far as the annual television shows…But, at some point it became mythic that Doug Henning had vanished and that was all I knew. What you would hear was that he went off to India to learn how to levitate for real. You also heard rumors that he was involved in politics. Both things turned out to be true …It sort of helped his legend, but also sort of froze him in time. We never saw him get old or stale…He left at an interesting time…

(Years later) my friend Mark called me and said “Doug Henning has reappeared. He showed up at “The Magic Castle” last night!” Everyone was buzzing about it. He looked the same, and there he was. But, my memory of it was that not long afterwards he died, and I along with (other) people realized that he had come to say goodbye. I think very few people knew that he was ill…

So, I found out about it again from my friend Mark through an email. It might have been one of the first things I learned through an email…and the next day it was in all the papers.

His life would make a great movie, wouldn’t it?

I think it would be an amazing film. It would speak to its time too. It’s a great showbiz story…it’s poetic because he was always on a quest to bring wonder, and then got into TM, and found that that was his passion. Whether that was good for him or for magic that would be part of the story as well. It would be an incredible story about a kid from Canada who said, “I’m going to bring magic back!” It would be great!

Thanks John for a terrific interview and a great lunch at “The Magic Castle!” For all those interested in Houdini please visit his website “Wild About Harry” at:

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