Watch Mr. Wizard No More

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 12th, 2007

Mr. Wizard

Many 1950s-1960s cryptozoologists were introduced to science on television, first and foremost, by Mr. Wizard. I am saddened to hear that he has passed away today.

It is with deep sadness that we regret to inform you of the passing of Don Herbert – the one and only “Mr. Wizard”. Don lost his battle with cancer today, June 12, 2007, at 9 AM – slightly more than one month shy of his 90th birthday. He was lovingly surrounded by his family, who are at once, saddened by his passing, and relieved that he is no longer suffering.

We all feel lucky to have known and worked with Don and we have been honored to carry on his legacy as an original and truly legendary figure in the worlds of both Television and Science Education. He has been inspirational and influential in so many ways and on so many lives and we are comforted in the fact that his ground breaking work and legacy will continue to inspire many more people for years to come.

Thank you so much to all of you for your support and sympathy. Sincerely, The Family

His biography:

Birth Date: July 10, 1917 / Age: 89

Birth Place: Waconia, Minnesota, USA

Biography: Donald Jeffry Herbert (born July 10, 1917 in Waconia, Minnesota), better known as Mr. Wizard, was the host of two popular television shows about science aimed at children.

Herbert was a General Science and English major at LaCrosse State Teachers College in Wisconsin who was interested in drama, until his career as an actor was interrupted by World War II when he joined the army as a private. He was a B-24 bomber pilot who flew 56 missions with the Fifteenth Air Force and participated in the invasion of Italy. When Herbert was discharged in 1945 he was a captain and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

After the war, Herbert worked a radio station in Chicago where he acted in children’s programs such as “It’s Your Life” (1949) that was a documentary health series. It was during this time that Herbert formulated the idea of Mr. Wizard, a general science experiments show that utilized the new medium of television. Herbert’s idea was accepted by the Chicago NBC station and the series “Watch Mr. Wizard” premiered on March 3, 1951. The weekly 30 minute show featured Herbert as Mr. Wizard and a young assistant while Herbert performed interesting science experiments. The experiments, many of which seemed impossible at first glance, were usually simple enough to be re-created by viewers.

The show was very successful; by 1954 it was broadcast by 91 stations. Mr. Wizard Science Clubs were started throughout North America, numbering 50,000 by the time the show was cancelled in 1965. The show moved to New York on September 5, 1955. The show was cited by the National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society for increasing interest in science, and Herbert won a Peabody Award.

After his show was cancelled, Herbert produced films for junior and senior high schools, wrote several books on science, and developed the Mr. Wizard Science Center located outside Boston. The show “Watch Mr. Wizard” was briefly revived by NBC from September 11, 1971 through September 2, 1972.

In 1984 Herbert developed “Mr. Wizard’s World,” a faster-paced version of his show that was shown three times a week on the cable channel Nickelodeon. The show ran until 1990, and reruns were shown until 2000, making it the longest running show on Nickelodeon. Episodes of the original run were re-aired in 2005 on the digital cable channel “The Science Channel.” Biography Credit: Wikipedia

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “Watch Mr. Wizard No More”

  1. MattBille responds:

    Thank you for posting this. Herbert did great service to science and education. Today’s wave of more specialized cable-TV science hosts are all good at what they do, but there was only one Mr. Wizard. I also remember fondly the sitcom Dinosaurs with its parody “Mr. Lizard.” whose assistant Timmy needed to be replaced after each show.

  2. Ceroill responds:

    I too am saddened at the loss of Mr Wizard. He was a great boon to us kids growing up then, and even into the 80’s. His demonstrations were classic as well as entertaining. He was, I think, what all Jr High and High School science teachers aspired to be. Interesting, inspiring, and memorable.

  3. jodzilla responds:

    Awwwww! Man. Mister Wizard! Now I’m so depressed I can’t even function. Man.

  4. mystery_man responds:

    This is really sad news. As a science educator myself, I truly respect his efforts to open up youngster’s eyes to the world of science. A basic knowledge of science is very important I feel, and he did a great service by making it interesting and accessible. He made science fun and entertaining, which believe me is not always an easy feat. He made young people and I’m sure old alike want to get out and learn more by instilling a certain fascination within them. I remember his old 80s series and I was always transfixed. He will be missed.

  5. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Wow. I remember the first time I watched cable television, at about age 10, and the wonder of Mr. Wizard’s World on Nickelodeon. From learning about the surface tension of water with pepper and dish soap, to learning about area by cutting a hole in a piece of standard notebook paper that I could walk through, Mr. Wizard’s World introduced me to many hidden wonders in what just might have been a very banal world without his influence.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and I hope they can rest a little easier knowing that his life touched so many others in a very positive way.

  6. ufoxprt responds:

    With the passing of Don Herbert, “Mr. Wizard” is it any surprise that science education is in such a sad state. Herbert made science interesting even for those of us who never became “scientists.” His programs not only gave children a sense or wonder, but showed that the scientific method and investigation and the compilation of facts could prove something or give you an inkling of an outcome that more emotional people would skip over in their rush to “feel good” and make themselves “better people.”

    The fact that Nickelodeon stopped running his program at the end of the last Millennium shows that this “New Age” will be a time of ignorance, “feelings” mis-and dis-information with unfortunately the internet leading the way because everyone can anonymously comment, make up stuff and generally put out nonsense. What a brave new world!

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