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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Spellbound: Doug Henning Biography (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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T. Joseph O'Malley
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Got this on Boxing Day and finished it last night. I heartily recommend it. Doug Henning was one of the greats and his story is fascinating.

My favourite part of the book was the Epilogue. It tells you everything you need to know about him.
Mark Williams
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In my original review, I incorrectly stated Doug's age at the time of his death...He was in fact, 52 years old. I apologize for the error. Here is the corrected review.

On 2009-09-16 19:10, Mark Williams wrote:
Here is a review that I sent to John Harrison and posted elsewhere:

I just finished reading this fantastic book by John Harrison. It was released at Magic Live 2009 and I can tell you that this book was met with eager anticipation. Spellbound is definitely a must read for all Doug Henning fans. John has painstakingly researched every aspect of Doug's life and career in Magic. It is a true testament to the author and his own dedication to write this biography. John has done a magnificent job in both presenting the facts and weaving a integral story surrounding the wonder-filled life of Doug Henning.

At the age of six, Doug Henning watched the Ed Sullivan Show on television to see magician Richiardi perform the Broom Suspension Illusion. It was at that moment when Doug asked his mother if he too could someday be a magician.

Years later, when Doug Henning started to become a household name, he was often fond of saying, "The Magic of Today, is The Science of Tomorrow". This type of thinking would eventually lead Henning into the realm of Transcendental Meditation, which would in effect change him forever.

John Harrison's book encompasses Doug's early years on Broadway during his tenure in "Spellbound", "The Magic Show" and "Merlin". It then takes you on a journey through Doug's life and eventual fame onto television.

Some of the more interesting facets of Spellbound are interviews John conducted with Doug's family, friends, co-workers and associates. All of the information is presented in a delightful way and makes for a relaxed read. You definitely get the feel that you are hearing an enthralling story, as if the author was telling it to you, in person.

Spellbound will delight all those who want to know more about Doug Henning. You will learn about "Hendoo"...Doug's first performing name. Many will be surprised to find out that Doug Henning studied with Dai Vernon and Slydini, through a grant issued by the Canadian Government. Also, you'll find out why a performance for the Inuit Indians made Doug realize that Magic is everywhere. You will also learn how Doug Henning first used Transcendental Meditation to overcome hyper-activity and how it later ruled his life. Spellbound will reveal that "Metamorphosis" was Doug's favorite illusion. This book also reveals how Doug Henning sought out real wonder in the World and how "Magic + Theater = Art" Clearly, there is much to enjoy inside the pages of this incredible book, Spellbound.

February 7, 2000 was truly a sad day when Doug Henning succumbed to Liver Cancer at the age of 52. Doug Henning will certainly be remembered for bringing Illusion into the homes of television viewers everywhere. Doug was determined throughout his life to bring "Wonder" into other peoples lives. He made a long forgotten art (Magic), stand out brightly for all to enjoy. In Doug Henning's own words, he made this profound proclamation..."I don't know how to be anyone other than myself."

Highly Recommended!!

Best Magical Regards,

Mark Williams
"Once is Magic!! Twice is an Education!!"
Bob Baker
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Just finished reading this wonderful book and recommend it to all. It is easy to forget how Henning single-handedly revitalized magic in the 1970's. Just about every magic performer today, from DC on down, owes Henning a great debt of gratitude.

Among my treasured magic possessions is a personal letter I received from Doug after I wrote him a fan letter when I first saw "The Magic Show." Not quite sure where the 35+ years have gone.

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I have always been a Doug Henning fan. I was in my mid-thirties when I watched him awaken the magic in American society again. Great passage on page 116 when he learns from the Indians at Alert, Canada that modern society has lost it's sense of "magic". From that moment on, Doug was determined to introduce
wonder, awe and magic back to contemporary audiences everywhere. Got to see him at the Pantages in LA
during 1980 and was very pleased to see that his energy, charm and innocence was just as real in person as
it was on tv specials. He is missed. No professional stage magician today can translate that sense of
awe and real wonder to their audiences. Instead, you get dead-pan poses, glitzy female assistants who do "stripper-pole" dance numbers, add a little fog, and the audience yawns again.
Nothing is truer than the incomprehensible, because the sum total of our knowledge consists of the fact that we know nothing. Our reality is an illusion. Thus illusion is reality-Punx
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Henning brought innocence and sense of wonder, Copperfield brought sexiness and a James bond feel. Enjoyed the Henning bio, I heard someone in the UK is putting out a Copperfield bio.
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Just finished reading the epilogue. Thankyou for that, John. Wow.
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On 2009-07-04 15:56, tabman wrote:
This is good news. I think Doug was the original Rock and Roll Magician and a great proponent for Transcendental Meditation. I met him at a TM weekend in Houston in the early 70s. He was using a Gozinta Box to illustrate the wonders of TM. I found that a little weird though. That's the weekend I got my mantra.

I just realized that I was basically homeless a few years later. I wonder if theres a tie in?


I have not read the Doug Henning bio, but I definitely want to. What a remarkable, gentle soul he seemed to be.

As to TM, while I find it amazing and a wonderful method for introspection - in my Greek Orthodox faith we practice Hesychlastic prayer - The Beatles found their experiences with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi rather unsatisfying - although it DID lead George to Hinduism. Their song, "Sexy Sadie", on the album called The Beatles (known popularly as "The White Album") criticizes THEIR experiences not with TM, but rather the character of the Maharishi.

I remember the day I read of Doug Henning's passing. I was deeply saddened. Many people remember him as a rock and roll illusionist, but, some fail to remember he was also an excellent sleight of hand artist who was a student of THE Master, Tony Slydini. I would like to think that Doug and Tony are even now in Heaven, two gentle souls that positively touched the lives of so many. Their reward is certainly deserved.

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I just finished reading this book and really enjoyed it. Doug touched many lives, and inspired others who went on to become great magical thinkers and leaders in the field.

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Yes, I confess I'm EXTEEMELY slow on the draw, but I think it's about time I finally get me a copy before it goes out of print.
Lately, since I had several dreams about Doug, I'm very, very hungry to learn more about him.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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