Growing Up with a Legend: Part Two By Richard Sherry
Doug Henning was friends with a young director named Ivan Reitman who would go on to produce such blockbusters such as “Animal House,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Kindergarten Cop.” It was said that Ivan fronted him the money to purchase the props to create his stage show which became known as “Spellbound.”
My friend David Fraser and I went to the opening night of Henning’s new show called “Spellbound.” Even at such a young age I noticed that there was something wrong with this production because the stage was empty for a few minutes between each of the illusions. The only set decorations I recall were three or four giant inflatable pillows hanging from the ceiling which I believe were supposed to be clouds. Despite this, when Doug came on the stage there was an electricity and his illusions were brilliant. New and fresh illusions we had never seen before such as “Thin Model Sawing,””Mismade,” “Zig Zag,” and his stunning “Metamorphosis.”
I never saw much of Doug Henning after his big break with Spellbound. My next interaction with the Henning family was running into his ex-wife in Calgary, Alberta, Canada while at a bar doing magic tricks. She had asked the bartender to introduce us because she loved magic and magicians. She asked me who my favorite magician was, and I said, “You have probably not heard of him, but his name was Doug Henning.” She told me that she was his ex-wife and I did not believe her at first… When I asked her about certain illusions and performances she knew all about it. We chatted for hours about magic and Doug, but we were both with other groups of people, so we parted company.
The last Henning family interaction I had was about 20 years ago when my twin daughters were born. One of the delivery nurses was Doug Henning’s sister.
Doug Henning was an great influence on my career as a magician. I will never forget his support, generosity, and willingness to take the time with a kid who loved magic as well. I would go on to become a professional magician as well as manufacture magic and escape equipment. David Fraser went on to a successful career as a screen writer.
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