Nancy Henning Interview: Part One

Starting today and running over multiple parts will be my recent interview with Nancy Henning, Doug’s sister. To say that I am honored that she took the time to talk with me is an understatement. The following is a rare look into Doug’s life before and after he became famous.

Thank you so much for talking with me today. To start off, could you talk about yourself and your family growing up?

I guess we had a typical middle-class family. There were three kids – two girls and one boy –we were all three years apart. Doug was the middle child and I was the baby in the family. So, I was a spoiled kid. Doug and I were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is right on the center of Canada, and my sister was born in Alberta. 

We moved to Oakville, Ontario when I was 10, so Doug would have been 13 in the summer of 1960 or ’61….And it’s a small town that’s between two larger cities – Toronto and Hamilton, on Lake Ontario – so, a nice small-town atmosphere.

So, we were three years apart, so we were basically – had our own friends. And as kids, three years is a huge distance when you’re young kids. But,…I think we were fairly close – fairly close kids…

What was he like as a brother?

He was a great brother. We had a lot of the same interests. We both played badminton. We both were involved in track and basketball. I know in high school, I was on the midget basketball team – which is funny, because both Doug and I were short – and I think – I look back and I wonder how I ever got on the basketball team, because, you know, I was so short… Yeah. But, we didn’t do things together in school, but when he started doing magic, he used me as an assistant when he started to need an assistant.

And he also practiced on me. And he would practice around the house and in front of the mirror in his bedroom and he would show me things when he wasn’t very good, and I would see how he did it. And, of course, I would say, “I saw you do such and such” and then he’d go away frustrated and practice some more and come back. And even when I couldn’t see him do it, I’d remember how he did it and I was a brat and I’d say, “I saw you do such and such.” So, I used to say that I was responsible for how good he was because I was making him practice…

He’d get frustrated…and he’d throw his tricks into the garbage – his rice balls or whatever it might be – ropes or cards or whatever – he’d throw them into the wastebasket in his bedroom and my mother, in the morning when he went to school, would fish them out of the garbage and put them back on his desk…

And then he’d practice them some more. He’d keep coming back to me for punishment and show me some more tricks. I was a terrible kid. I don’t know why he loved me so much. He was always there for me.

To Be Continued…

This interview was conducted on October 15th, 2017.

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