The First NBC Special: Part One

The night was December 26, 1975. Fifty-Million plus people were tuning in live for an NBC worldwide satellite broadcast. The star was a twenty-eight year old magician from Canada that had been taking Broadway and fans by storm in “The Magic Show.” His name, of course, was Doug Henning!

Offered a TV special of his own by legendary producer David Susskind, this first “World of Magic” special would be like nothing ever seen before. Doug insisted that everything be done live with no tricks. The cameras were all hand-held to give the viewers at home and the audience in the studio the proof that nothing was being edited or faked. Throw in limited commercial interruptions, and what you had here was arguably the first instance of dramatic event television.

The first image that viewers saw that fateful night was Gene Kelly who explained what was to be the grand finale for that evening: Harry Houdini’s “Chinese Water Torture Cell.”

Gene Kelly Close Up
Gene Kelly Intro

Gene Kelly
Explaining the Water Torture Cell

As one of Houdini’s most legendary and deadly escapes, Doug had his work cut out for him. After months of practice and trial and error, the moment was at hand. After Kelly’s introduction, there was no going back.

Opening Title
Opening Credits

Doug Credit
Opening Credits

Doug Opening Shot
Doug’s Entrance

For Doug Henning, as he made his way across the stage, life would never be quite the same…

To Be Continued…




One Comment Add yours

  1. Oh, wow, this is great. I love how the cell sits ominously there on the side of the stage.


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