Dean Gunnarson, Doug, and the Water Torture Cell

Escape Artist Dean Gunnarson was kind enough to share with me some rare items from his Doug collection, highlighting of course Doug’s original “Water Torture Cell” from “World of Magic I.” Dean had bought the original cell from Brett Daniels in 1990. To confirm its provenance, Dean even had the opportunity to show the cell…

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 Cover Story

To brighten up our Monday commute, let’s travel back to 1975 and take a look at a great cover story of Doug promoting the first NBC special! Special thanks to David Sigafus for sending me this. I had been trying to find a good image of the cover picture for a while. 

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: 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…

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…

Close Encounters of the Doug Kind: Part Two

Today’s story comes from Thom Tyre of Tsawwassen, B.C., It paints a rare picture of a young Doug in his high school years.  “I went to high school with Doug (OTHS) and we were attending a teen house party with a number of friends. Doug offered to do a couple of illusions, and I volunteered to…

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…