Magician Doug Henning

After graduating from university, Canadian Doug Henning was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts grant for the purpose of studying magic. He went on to develop the magic-based stage show “Spellbound”, which ran successfully in Toronto before transitioning to Broadway as “The Magic Show”. Debuting in 1974, the show ran for four and a half years, and earned Henning a Tony Award nomination.

Henning then approached NBC with the idea of producing a television special. Henning spent the next eight months reworking his stage act for TV and working on a recreation of Houdini’s famous water-torture escape act. More than 50 million viewers tuned in for the December 1975 broadcast of Doug Henning’s World of Magic, hosted by Bill Cosby. Henning successfully performed the water torture illusion, although he did not break Houdini’s time record.

After several years of stage and TV appearances, Henning retired from performing and focused his energy on Transcendental Meditation. In the early 90’s, he revealed a plan to develop a large, mystical theme park, “Maharishi Veda Land” in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The park never materialized.

Henning died in 2000 at the age of 52 after a brief battle with liver cancer.

At the end of each performance, Henning addressed the audience with the same monologue: “Anything the mind can conceive is possible. Nothing is impossible. All you have to do is look within, and you can realize your fondest dreams. I would like to wish each one of you all of life’s wonders and a joyful age of enlightenment.”