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Someone on this Café, (I won't say the name because they have not given me permission to reveal their identity) was kind enough to send me some DVds of a few of Doug Henning's TV specials from the early 80's, and I got to view these for the first time in over twenty years.

Holy cow, did THAT ever take me back! It was a wonderful blessing to watch these again, and some of the specials were new to me, because apparently I had missed a couple. (shame on me) Perhaps I was very busy just getting out of the Air force, etc.
Anyway, let me say, I, being older and wiser, now can see these specials through totally new eyes; with a new perspective.

This is my personal opinion (and it remains ONLY an opinion): I can't help but contrast what Doug was doing back then on TV to what we are being offered now as TV magic fare, and the differences are startling!

I saw a young man, who was not so much trying to FREAK people out, but rather was entertaining them and filing their hearts with wonder. That was his philosophy of magic, and it permeated all he did.

I saw a man who KNEW stagecraft and and had wonderful presentation and acting skills. I truly saw magic presented as THEATRE. I saw many audience appeals incorporated into the magic. (Fitzgee)

I saw a man who didn't need to rely on camera editing. I saw a man who knew how to win an audience, and who certainly knew how to connect with and PLEASE an audience.

I saw folks in the audience laughing, smiling and having a lovely time.

I even saw the Profesor himself in the audience looking pretty happy at what he was seeing.

To sum it up, I saw a young man who was as close to being a REAL magician as they come.

My opinion is that much of that is sadly lacking in the freak fests that are now presented on TV as "magic"

Anyway, take it with a grain of salt, because it is how I see it.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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Right, Doug was special. But times change. The younger crowd would be bored to death with nice magic having grown up watching MTV and listening to the current music.
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Eternal Order
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Yeah. It's a crying shame, too.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Eric Dittelman
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As being part of the "younger crowd", I obviously wasn't around when Doug Henning was performing. I did however get to see very short clips of him performing and rented his Broadway musical "The Magic Show". I can see how influential and unique he was as a magician and would love to get my hands on more performance videos.

Don't underestimate the younger crowd, especially those who love magic and is interested in its history! Smile

-Eric D.
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Eric D.,

You might be the exception as a young magician today. Henning was truly unique and inovative in his style. Many young magicians would probably find him a little boring. But, at the time, his style was so different from the formal top-hat/tuxedo stereotypes... that most young people found a renewed interest in magic. In the era of ty-dyed shirts and hippies, his long hair and wild colorful clothes seemed to fit in with the 'now' generation. But like Pete reminds us... times HAVE changed. I agree with Doug, that it's a shame today's tv magicians have altered the look and feel of magic to be so dark, sinister and shocking. It is good to know that a few like yourself, can appreciate magicians like Henning. Maybe there's hope for the younger generation after all!

One good thing about being wrong...
Is the pleasure it brings to others.
Ron Reid
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It was very obvious that Doug Henning loved performing magic.

Bill Palmer
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Doug was an interesting character. I watched his progress through Genii Magazine, his television specials and the shows he did here in Houston when he made special appearances. He was a very cordial individual.

To place things into perspective, it would have been very difficult for Doug to have done what he did, had it not been for Mark Wilson. Mark was the first to have a successful series of national television specials. Milbourne Christopher had tried it, but flopped. He just did not know how to capture the public's attention. Mark did.

Doug's style was unique. The character you saw on stage was very close to the real Doug. He caused a lot of controversy among the "old guard" when he did his first special.

"He doesn't look like a magician, he looks like a hippie."

"He hasn't paid his dues, he just sprang up overnight." (not true)

If these statements seem familiar, they have also been made about Copperfield (except for the hippie part), Blaine and Criss Angel.

Henning's first Broadway musical was a success. His second one was not. He also had a problem when he started directing and producing his own specials. He let his wife write the scripts (not a good idea) and he didn't really make sure everything was going to work. His "partially vanishing television set" was a major disappointment.

But 20th century magic would have been very different had Doug not existed. I would not say that nobody would be in magic now if it had not been for Doug. That would be an exaggeration. But he did appeal to a special audience, and he had a style of his own.

"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."
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David Blaine or Criss Angel cannot hold a candle to Doug Henning...
David Blaine belongs in a circus sideshow and Criss Angel, I don't know..I have to say I only saw a small portion of Criss Angel, enough to make me turn it off and never watch again. I have no idea what Blaine is trying to do. Maybe if he got back into magic and quit the idiotic stunts I would watch him again. For now I am glad I have videos of the greats to entertain me...
The effect is the important thing, how you achieve it is not.......
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