Doug Henning Cause of Death: How the Legendary Magician Lost His Battle with Cancer

Doug Henning was a Canadian magician, illusionist, escape artist and politician who mesmerized millions of people with his dazzling and innovative magic shows. He was widely regarded as one of the most influential magicians of the 20th century, who revived the public’s interest in magic and brought it to a new level of artistry and entertainment. He was also a devoted follower of transcendental meditation and a political activist who ran for the Natural Law Party of Canada in 1993. However, his brilliant career and life were cut short by a deadly disease that claimed his life in 2000. Here is the story of Doug Henning’s cause of death and how he fought against it until the end.

Early Life and Career

Doug Henning was born on May 3, 1947, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He developed a fascination for magic at the age of six, after watching a Peruvian magician perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. He soon learned various tricks from books and kits, and performed for his family and friends. He also started advertising his services as a magician in local newspapers, and earned $15 per show. He graduated from high school in 1965, and enrolled at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he studied psychology and science. He also met Ivan Reitman, who later became a famous film director and producer.

Henning decided to pursue magic as a career after graduating from university in 1970. He applied for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to study the art of magic for a year. He was awarded $4,000, which he used to travel to various places and learn from different masters of magic. He also studied mime, dance, theater and illusion design. He visited the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, where he met Dai Vernon, a legendary Canadian magician known as “The Professor”. Vernon became Henning’s mentor and friend, and taught him many secrets of magic.

In 1973, Henning teamed up with Reitman to produce a musical comedy show called Spellbound, which featured Henning’s magic acts. The show was a success in Toronto, and attracted the attention of Broadway producers. In 1974, Henning made his Broadway debut with The Magic Show, a musical written by Stephen Schwartz and directed by Reitman. The show was a huge hit, running for more than four years and earning Henning a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

Fame and Fortune

Henning’s popularity soared after his Broadway success. He became a household name in North America and beyond, thanks to his frequent appearances on television specials and talk shows. He also performed live shows in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other venues around the world. He created many original and spectacular illusions, such as making an elephant disappear, walking through a brick wall, levitating over the Grand Canyon, escaping from a water torture cell and vanishing the Statue of Liberty. He collaborated with renowned illusion designers such as John Gaughan, Jim Steinmeyer and Charles Reynolds.

Henning was admired by both his peers and his fans for his skill, creativity and charisma. He was praised for his ability to combine magic with theater, music, comedy and storytelling. He was also known for his cheerful personality, his colorful costumes and his catchphrase “It’s an illusion”. He inspired many young magicians who followed in his footsteps, such as David Copperfield, Lance Burton and Penn & Teller.

Henning also had a personal life that was full of love and adventure. He married Barbara De Angelis, a self-help author and speaker, in 1977. They divorced in 1981. He then married Debby Douillard, an actress who appeared in some of his shows. They remained married until his death. Henning was also an avid collector of magic memorabilia and artifacts. He owned one of the largest collections of Houdini’s props and documents in the world.

Illness and Death

Henning’s career reached its peak in the mid-1980s. However, he decided to retire from performing magic in 1986. He sold some of his most famous illusions to David Copperfield for $2.8 million. He said he wanted to focus on other projects that were more meaningful to him.

One of these projects was Veda Land, a theme park based on transcendental meditation ™ that he planned to build in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Henning was a devoted follower of TM since 1968. He learned it from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the TM movement. Henning believed that TM could bring peace and happiness to the world. He envisioned Veda Land as a place where people could experience the wonders of ancient Vedic culture through rides, attractions and shows that incorporated magic and technology.

Another project that Henning pursued was politics. He became a leading member of the Natural Law Party of Canada, a political party that advocated for the use of TM and other natural and holistic approaches to solve the problems of society. He ran as a candidate for the party in the 1993 federal election, hoping to represent the riding of Rosedale in Toronto. He promised to make taxes and the national debt disappear through his magic. However, he lost the election, receiving only 227 votes.

Henning’s health began to deteriorate in the late 1990s. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1999. He refused to undergo conventional medical treatment, opting instead for alternative therapies such as Ayurveda, homeopathy and acupuncture. He also continued to practice TM and hoped for a miracle. He moved to Los Angeles, California, where he received care from his wife and friends.

Henning died on February 7, 2000, at the age of 52. His death was announced by his brother-in-law, David Charvet. He said that Henning died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his loved ones. He also said that Henning never gave up hope and never lost his spirit.

Henning’s death was mourned by many people who admired him and his magic. He was remembered as a pioneer, a visionary and a legend of magic. He was also honored by various organizations and institutions for his contributions to the art and culture of magic. He was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2000, the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2005 and the International Magicians Society Hall of Fame in 2010.


Doug Henning was a remarkable magician who brought joy and wonder to millions of people with his amazing illusions. He was also a passionate human being who pursued his dreams and ideals with courage and conviction. He left behind a legacy of magic that will continue to inspire generations to come. His cause of death was liver cancer, but his spirit lives on in his magic.

Doms Desk

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