Houdini’s 100th Birthday Article

John Cox ‘s excellent website Wild About Harry recently featured a New York Daily News article from 1974 covering a Doug live event that even yours truly didn’t know occurred. In honor of Houdini’s 100th birthday, Doug and his “Magic Show” co-star Dale Soules performed one of Houdini’s signature illusions in front of the famed Plaza…

Brian Lumley on Houdini’s Water Torture Cell

How did the First Special come about? Very early in The Magic Show’s run a very influential person came and basically fell in love with Doug’s performance. She asked him what he would do if he had a show at Christmas? Doug told her he would make people appear and disappear. He would do small…

Houdini Torture Cell Escape in Full

Clips from 1975’s “World of Magic 1” are a rarity on the internet. For some reason, every other one of Doug’s specials are available to find if you know where to look. But, “World of Magic 1” remains elusive at best…at least online (if you catch my meaning.)   It’s a shame really because in my…

Nancy Henning Interview: Part Three

Can you talk a bit about the $5000 Doug was awarded by the Canadian Arts Council to study magic? Did he discuss that with you at the time? You know, I don’t really remember hearing anything about that until he got it. He was quite proud of it, because at the time, there had never…

Henning on Houdini Radio Interview

This audio clip comes courtesy of John Cox’s fabulous Wild About Harry website. In this radio interview from 1980, Doug discusses the first television special and the intense preparations that went into his escape from Houdini’s Water Torture Cell.  While it’s brief, it gives the listener a peek into Doug’s rehearsal process and the mystery…

First Special Altered Poster

While I still recuperate I wanted to slowly get back into the swing of things with this first special newspaper ad from the Chicago Tribune. What’s unique about this particular piece is that the list of guest stars is updated to reflect who would actually be on the show. There are other color versions of…

The First NBC Special: Houdini’s Water Torture Cell Conclusion

As we reach the end of this legendary moment in magic history, the seconds are counting down and down. Doug, sealed in, begins the almost impossible job of escaping from a seemingly watery grave. Would he make it out alive? Or would 50 million people watch a man drown on live television? All your questions are…

The First NBC Special: Houdini’s Water Torture Cell

What you are about to see are the introduction and preparations for Doug’s Grand Finale of Houdini’s “Water Torture Cell!” After another brief introduction by Gene Kelly and a Houdini history montage, Doug is introduced to a nervous crowd. The suspense is truly over whelming, and there is definitely a “will he or won’t he” feeling throughout the…

The First NBC Special: The Best Bits!

It’s safe to say that everyone that is reading these entries remembers the first special in their own way. The program itself is so crammed with illusions and expert performances that it’s been difficult to decide what to include and what to sadly leave out. After Julie Newmar, the audience is treated to the umbrella and fire…

The First NBC Special: Julie Newmar

After some disappearing and reappearing birds and a little close-up magic with Bill Cosby, Doug gets to the nitty-gritty with this atmospheric box illusion. While shining a light inside and behind, it is revealed that absolutely nothing, I repeat nothing, is inside. Or is there? Ladies and Gentlemen, a totally random and 1970s avante-garde dance routine…

The First NBC Special: Part Two

In watching the special with modern eyes, it’s interesting to note how fresh, energetic, and groundbreaking it all still feels. Rather than doing an opening monologue, Doug dives into one of the things he truly excelled at… close up magic. None of the following scene has any dialogue, and that uniqueness makes it one of my favorite parts of the…

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…

Doug and The Washington Post

I just came across this treat of a “Washington Post” interview I think everyone will enjoy. It was published on June 9, 1982 and takes place right before Doug was winding down touring to concentrate on the creation of “Merlin.” Compared to other interviews I’ve read it really delves deeply into Doug’s thoughts on the…

Houdini: His Legend and His Magic Part Four

For our last round of pictures I wanted to focus on the excellent chapter “Houdini in Color.” What we have here are wonderful and bold color plates that really spring to life from the page. It’s my favorite chapter, and I suspect I may not be the only one! I thought it was more than appropriate to end with…

Houdini: His Legend and His Magic Part Three

The following represents some of the best items in the book in terms candid shots of Houdini and Bess, formal portraits, and newspaper coverage of Houdini’s death in 1926. It’s also refreshing to see Bess and Harry as they really were on vacation and away from the spotlight. Upon seeing them for the first time as…

Houdini: His Legend and His Magic Part Two

The following items represent not only a personal and very touching introduction from Doug to his parents, but many rare documents and photos from Houdini’s early and formative years. As with all legends, Houdini didn’t sprout fully formed and these pictures and clippings give us a very unique insight into this time in his life. …

Correction!

Hey Everyone! Before we get to the next post, I wanted to share a correction that was sent to me regarding how Doug obtained the items featured in “Houdini: His Legend and His Magic.” The real facts, such as these, can get muddled though various sources, accounts, and years. So, I’ll leave it to expert…

Houdini: His Legend and His Magic Book

For the rest of the week I’m going to rightfully be focusing on the classic Doug Henning and Charles Reynolds book “Houdini: His Legend and his Magic.” The book, originally published in 1977, is widely considered one of the most thorough and personal books ever published on Houdini. The reason for this lies in its…

Houdini’s Magic Magazine

To round out another great week I’m going to be featuring Doug’s appearance in the August, 1977 issue of “Houdini’s Magic Magazine.” The magazine itself ran from August 1977 to March 1978, and in that time it featured many of the top magic stories and artists of the day. Doug was no exception, and the history…

John Cox: Part Three

How do you think he bridged the gap between the magicians of old and the superstar ones we have today? Well he was the true bridge. You wonder would it have happened without him?…Doug Henning understood magic and the history of magic. So, he knew what principals worked and re-introduced them. He did an amazing…

John Cox: Part Two

How important do you feel “The Magic Show” was to the audience’s appreciation of magic? Doug Henning brought magic back to Broadway and back to legitimate theater…So, it really was “The Magic Show” that re-introduced the world to grand illusion…I wish I would have seen it…When you read about it, it was a good mix…

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

“The Doug Henning Project” is planning to review a number of Doug’s NBC television specials! While many are available on You Tube, the very first “Doug Henning’s World of Magic” appears to not be. As many of you know, this is the most famous one of all where Doug recreates Houdini’s infamous “Water Torture Cell” on live television. …

Why Doug Henning Matters…

What we know as modern magic would never have existed if it wasn’t for this simple and unassuming Canadian who had the vision to bring magic to the masses in a unique and totally different way. Without his influence on modern pop culture, the idea and concept of the “superstar” magician would never have existed…let […]