Herbert, Don 1917-2007 (Donald Jeffrey Herbert, Mr. Wizard)

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Herbert, Don 1917-2007 (Donald Jeffrey Herbert, Mr. Wizard)


See index for CA sketch: Born July 10, 1917, in Waconia, MN; died of multiple myeloma, June 12, 2007, in Bell Canyon, CA. Actor, television and radio personality, producer, and writer. Almost every American child whose family owned a television in the 1950s knew Mr. Wizard. When those children had children of their own, many of the new generation were also entertained and educated by Mr. Wizard on the Nickelodeon cable television network. Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert did not set out to become an icon of children's television. His career began modestly on stage in New York City, where he stayed until World War II interrupted his progress. After a stint in the Army Air Forces, he moved to Chicago and ventured into radio as a producer and actor for local children's programs and an on-air interviewer and announcer. Mr. Wizard made his debut on television in 1951 and never looked back. When his series went on hiatus in 1965, Herbert became a producer of radio science shows and videotape series for schools. Mr. Wizard resurfaced briefly throughout the 1970s, then moved to cable television in 1983. Herbert's method of operation was to combine the respectability of a white shirt and tie with the presentation skills of a magician, using common household objects to illustrate scientific facts and processes. His assistants were ordinary boys and girls, who helped to bridge the gap between the sound stage and the living room. Herbert's contributions to educational broadcasting were honored by many awards, including a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award from the Henry W. Grady School of Broadcasting and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia in 1953, two awards from the Manufacturing Chemists Association, and two National Mass Media Awards from the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation. Herbert's popular television series led to the creation of thousands of Mr. Wizard fan clubs around the world and, according to some commentators, steered many young men and women toward future careers in science. Herbert also published his television experiments in nearly a dozen books, including Mr. Wizard's Science Secrets, Mr. Wizard's Experiments for Young Scientists, Mr. Wizard's 400 Experiments in Science, Secret in the White Cell: Case History of a Biological Search, Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science, and Mr. Wizard's Mystery Garden.



Chicago Tribune, June 13, 2007, sec. 2, p. 12.

Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2007, Dennis McLellan, p. B10.

New York Times, June 13, 2007, Richard Goldstein, p. C13.

Washington Post, June 13, 2007, Martin Weil, p. B6.

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Herbert, Don 1917-2007 (Donald Jeffrey Herbert, Mr. Wizard)

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