Remembering Doug.

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David Oliver
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Remembering Doug.

Postby David Oliver » February 7th, 2008, 11:50 am

Hello all -

Happened to stumble across the Doug Henning cover story in 2000, and read the date of his passing, which happens to be today. Difficult to believe it has been eight years since his death. As many others stated at the time, it actually felt like a second death for Doug, since he had long been out of our spotlight prior to his passing.

I was lucky enough to have met Doug on four separate ocassions as a teen. But the first meeting was truly an amazing experience for a then 11-year-old, budding magician.

Standing in the rain, just outside of the stage door hidden in the alley behind the Colonial Theatre in Boston, with my oldest brother (he could drive) and about ten other people, I waited. I seemed to be the youngest person there, and wondered why there weren't more people standing with us after such an amazing show.

Perhaps it was the shadow of the tiger roaming back and forth in the curtained windows of the RV that kept others away (is THAT where the tiger goes when he vanishes?). Or, more than likely, it was the pouring rain that frightened them. It certainly wasn't my brother's constant commentary of, "he's not coming out. We've been here for twenty minutes, and I'm getting soaked. Let's go." And then, it happened.

The stage door opened, and it was him. It wasn't just a stage hand or some security guard. It was the star of the most fantastic live magic show I had ever seen, and just witnessed LIVE. It was the guy who's annual specials held me motionless in front of the television. It was Doug Henning.

He smiled at the group, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "you're going to get all wet. C'mon inside."

With that, he ushered us inside the stage door. He chatted, for what seemed an eternity, with each of the adults, signing autographs and taking photos. I remember taking my wet coat off for a few minutes, possibly in an attempt to stay warm and dry.

Doug eventually talked with me about magic and signed my program book from that show. I'll admit, I was so star struck, I unfortunately don't remember any words from that conversation. But, I do remember someone from his staff handing him a Pepsi can, which he opened, paused for a moment and then gave to me. Doug Henning gave me his Pepsi!

As our time with Doug was coming to a close, I put my coat back on. I unknowingly placed the can down, staining my newly-autographed program book with a permanent ring of soda. I picked up my Pepsi, tucked the program book under my jacket to protect it from the rain, and attempted to be the last one to leave. It worked.

Just before exiting, I turned one last time to see my then-hero. (Cue the Mean-Joe-Green, shirt-toss football Coke ad music.) He smiled at me, and said, "thanks for coming. I'll see you again."

Walking down that rainy alley, back to the parking lot, my brother turned to me and said, "see? I told you he'd come out to see us."

While I don't have the Pepsi can any longer, I do still have the Pepsi-stained program book, the older brother and that fond memory of Doug.

On this eighth anniversary of Doug's passing, do you have a favorite memory or story?

-DO
- DO

T Baxter
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby T Baxter » February 7th, 2008, 1:03 pm

I was in the audience opening night for Doug's first stage show, SPELLBOUND in Toronto.

I remember that he magically appeared in a flash production, and blinded by the flashpots, walked forward and fell off the stage into the orchestra pit!

Luckily he wasn't hurt, and after a short delay, he began the show again. The audience loved him, and the press went wild! This was the first time in Canada anyone had seen illusions like the Thin Sawing in Half and the Zig-Zag girl.

-T. Baxter

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Donal Chayce
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Donal Chayce » February 7th, 2008, 3:57 pm

While I never saw "Spellbound" or "The Magic Show," I did see "Merlin" on Broadway during its very brief run. While it wasn't a particularly good musical, Chita Rivera was quite good as was a very young Nathan Lane. But best of all was Doug and the magic. The illusions, including Devant's incredible "Mascot Moth" illusion that Jim Steinmeyer reconstructed (I think a young Willie Kennedy assisted in the performance of the illusion), were breathtaking.

I saw all of Doug's TV specials and most of his guest appearances. I was a fan from the very start, and I still am.

I miss him.
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Steve Bryant
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Steve Bryant » February 7th, 2008, 4:42 pm

I too saw Merlin and it was great fun.

You can get The Magic Show on dvd from Amazon. Not the original cast entirely, but it has Doug and is also great fun to watch.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby castawaydave » February 7th, 2008, 5:21 pm

I remember Doug doing the water torture cell on his 1st special as if it was yesterday.

Wanting to affect people the way he affected me was certainly one of the main reasons I persued magic as a teenaged punk.

Young people these days have no idea what a huge breath of fresh air he was. When he appeared in the 70s, he was THE s***: I remember watching him do Han Ping Chien and Gypsy Thread on Merv Griffin, and being stunned and slack-jawed (as were Merv and Angie Dickinson).

I got to see his "Illusion or Reality" show in Berkeley once ('78)--everything he did killed me, from Sidewalk Shuffle, In-n-Outer Boxes, mis-made lady: that was even the 1st time I ever saw Gene Anderson's T&R newspaper. I repeat: Doug killed me.

Saw him again years later at the War Memorial Theater in San Francisco ('82?), after which show I also waited at the stage door like a star-struck, tongue tied kid.

He finally came out, and was every bit as friendly as you would imagine (and as has been recounted above). He autographed my program, which I still (and will always) treasure.

I do not believe every single thing Doug Henning did was a perfect gem (for example: some of the goofy colorful costumes, and the herky-jerky dance choreography in the t.v. specials from the early 80s make me cringe today) but he absolutely HAS to rank among the handful of most influential magicians of the 20th century.

I am still bummed he died.
I regret not having had the chance to get to know him, but I'll never forget that one afternoon when I did get to meet him: a true legend, who turned out to be exactly the way I'd hoped he would be. I believe he was a good man.

VIVA Doug Henning!! R.I.P. :)

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Michael Edwards » February 7th, 2008, 5:36 pm

The DVD is indeed different in many respects than the Broadway production -- not just cast, but its effects and songs as well (you can read a rather lengthy review and comparison in the October 2001 issue of Genii). But as I noted in that article, while we can't go back to 1974 again, it's nice to be able to hold on to him a bit longer. As the entire company sings (in both versions: "Cause there's one thing I know turns a man of sixty back into a child of six. Watching Dunninger, Houdini, or Doug -- the magic man -- up to his old tricks."

For those looking for some additional insights into Doug and his magic, you might want to pull out the August 1997 issue of Genii in which Gary Brown and I put together a special section marking his 50th birthday.

My own memories focus on two events (both of which have been captured in Genii articles). The first was seeing The Magic Show for the first time and how that offbeat little musical with its offbeat star who couldn't sing or dance brought me back to magic. The second was the last conversation I had with him just a few months before his passing. He seemed so comfortable with where his life had taken him...and he was so genuinely excited for what he hoped lay ahead. Sadly, that future was cut tragically short.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Pete Biro » February 7th, 2008, 7:06 pm

Dug really believed rhere was a Unicorn in his garder.

My strongest memories with him were visiting him backstage on Broadway and getting an autographed poster from THE MAGIC SHOW. The other was working with him sevral times and especially when he did the second half of our IBM show in Long Beach to close the convention.
Stay tooned.

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MaxNY
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby MaxNY » February 7th, 2008, 8:57 pm

Hey, that Yoda guy just died this week too, didn't he? Wouldn't that be a triple whammy if it was the exact SAME DAY?!?!

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Jerry Harrell » February 8th, 2008, 4:52 am

That Yoda guy? What Yoda guy?

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 8th, 2008, 5:14 am

Originally posted by MaxNY:
Hey, that Yoda guy just died this week too, didn't he? Wouldn't that be a triple whammy if it was the exact SAME DAY?!?!
Jim Henson is gone - though Frank Oz (the voice of Yoda and Miss Piggy) is still with us.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby CJJANIS » February 8th, 2008, 5:23 am

For Me magic was dark and edgy, Tony Curtis in Houdini. Then came Doug, he brought color and he truly seemed as thrilled as we were. I was hooked for life! I went to every show he did in Chicago, and every show was great. And when he left magic, I thought what a cruel God that would take this joy from us! Then he came back, only to taken for good from. Magic is fleeting, enjoy it while you can.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Magic Mike » February 8th, 2008, 5:56 am

I have fond memories of Doug, and miss him too.
When he was in Toronto filming the (available on DVD version) The Magic Show, I was a young PA on that production.
I got to miss school for a week, and helped around the stage, getting coffee, cleaning up, and shoveling elephant sh...
But, of that time, I mostly remember Doug sitting on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre's stage and talking to a young 'rock and roll' magician one afternoon. He let me perform a card trick for him, can't remember which one I did, but he pretended to like it. I told him my plans, and he made suggestions, signed my cards and we even shared a laugh. Doug had a great laugh!
Doug was patient, supportive and a real fresh breath in magic. I was looking forward to his re-emergence on the scene, when suddenly it all ended. Can't believe it was 8 years ago...

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Rennie
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Rennie » February 8th, 2008, 7:11 am

Originally posted by Jerry Harrell:
That Yoda guy? What Yoda guy?
I heard it was that Mahareshi or whatever his name was that Doug was working on that Vadaland (I think thats the name )with that died.
I think he did more damage to Doug than anything else, I believe he kind of dominated Doug's way of thinking. My opinion only.
I do believe Doug Henning was a huge boon to magic, and yes he is missed.
Rennie
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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Kevin Connolly » February 8th, 2008, 7:37 am

I thought it was his wife that was really heavily involved with the yogi and got Doug into it. :confused:

BTW Yoda was much smaller. :o
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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 8th, 2008, 10:01 am

Doug was deeply into TM well before meeting Debbie. She was also into TM before they met. In fact, they met at a TM retreat.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » February 8th, 2008, 11:09 am

Originally posted by Rennie:
Originally posted by Jerry Harrell:
[b] That Yoda guy? What Yoda guy?
I heard it was that Mahareshi or whatever his name was that Doug was working on that Vadaland (I think thats the name )with that died.
I think he did more damage to Doug than anything else, I believe he kind of dominated Doug's way of thinking. My opinion only.
I do believe Doug Henning was a huge boon to magic, and yes he is missed.
Rennie [/b]
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , the founder of Transcendental Meditation technique died on February 5th. In addition to Doug Henning, he also had a large impact on The Beatles, and a number of other well-known celebrities.

-Jim

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Donal Chayce
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Donal Chayce » February 8th, 2008, 2:32 pm

Originally posted by MaxNY:
Hey, that Yoda guy just died this week too, didn't he? Wouldn't that be a triple whammy if it was the exact SAME DAY?!?!
I don't know if this was simply your (poor) attempt at humor or if you were attempting to express your feelings about Doug's spiritual guru in a "colorful" manner, in any case, your comment was offensive to me.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how one expresses that opinion to others, particularly when one doesn't know that such an opinion is shared, is a mark of class...or lack thereof.
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Brian Marks
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Brian Marks » February 8th, 2008, 7:49 pm

Originally posted by Jim Maloney:
Originally posted by Rennie:
[b]
Originally posted by Jerry Harrell:
[b] That Yoda guy? What Yoda guy?
I heard it was that Mahareshi or whatever his name was that Doug was working on that Vadaland (I think thats the name )with that died.
I think he did more damage to Doug than anything else, I believe he kind of dominated Doug's way of thinking. My opinion only.
I do believe Doug Henning was a huge boon to magic, and yes he is missed.
Rennie [/b]
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , the founder of Transcendental Meditation technique died on February 5th. In addition to Doug Henning, he also had a large impact on The Beatles, and a number of other well-known celebrities.

-Jim [/b]
This reminds me of the Steve Martin bit. "I alway remember what Maharashi told me. He said "always....." no no it was "never"

Anyway I don't remeber the whole Steve Matin bit. Ironic.

You guys are commerating Doug Hennig. Some of you are commerting Maharashi. I commerating Steve Martin's stand up career. Priorities :confused:

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 8th, 2008, 7:52 pm

It's kind of hard not to see him and hear him when the word "wonder" comes up.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Roger M. » February 8th, 2008, 8:12 pm

Might be a nice testament to Doug if we remembered him simply for who he was, TM, magic, loving wife, and all.

A little reverence might also be appropriate........it's Doug after all.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby MaxNY » February 8th, 2008, 9:29 pm

We all handle death in our own ways, I tend to always make jokes...Sorry if I offended anyone. I believe Shpeilburger's Yoda was pure poetic license of the term Yogi. Wasn't there also a "Yogurt" somewhere?
---So, now the serious acknowledgment. I really cried when I read his "Innuit" story in either this mag or the other. I must have read that story to 50 people, and my eyes welled each time.
---Kasparov did an interview in Playboy magazine (back in the middle ages) and he said that in his opinion the psychological game of chess controlled Bobby Fisher, and therefore he (Fisher) wasn't able to differentiate between the "game" and "play" anymore...or something like that. I feel this same dilemma sadly (for us) took a decade of wonderfilled magic away from us. He seemed very happy with his life, so...
---What I find interesting are those in the public eye, who have walked away, at the top of their game. I've had the thread on this forum (back in the P-Diddy ages). I can name three Johnny Carson, Steve Martin and Doug Henning.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Ian Kendall » February 9th, 2008, 1:05 am

Yoghurt was the Mel Brooks character in Space Balls.

Take care, Ian

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Terry » February 9th, 2008, 6:02 am

Yoghurt was the Mel Brooks character in Space Balls.
May the schwartz be with youuuuuuuuuuu.....

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Donal Chayce » February 9th, 2008, 12:35 pm

Originally posted by MaxNY:
We all handle death in our own ways, I tend to always make jokes...Sorry if I offended anyone.
Thank you--apology accepted.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Lynetta » February 10th, 2008, 7:09 pm

One day, while I was still living in Los Angeles, my phone rang and when I answered it, the voice on the other end of line said, "Hello, this is Doug Henning." I thought someone was playing a joke on me, but they weren't, it really was Doug Henning! He said that he needed some topits put in his coat and wondered if I could install them for him. He explained that he had been in an accident and it was difficult for him to get around, so could I come to his house. I couldn't believe it, Doug Henning was inviting me over to his home. Of course I said I could install the topits and I would happy to come to his house.

I was so excited that as soon as I got off the phone, I called my Mom. She and I used to watch his specials together and she knew that he was who originally piqued my interest in magic.

I went to Doug's home and was met by Debbie. The odd thing was that I didn't see Doug anywhere. I didn't see him, but I heard him. He was a voice coming from behind a folding screen at the top of the stairs. He was the wizard behind the curtain. I never saw him. Debbie asked me stay for awhile and we had tea and talked about recipes, but I never saw Doug.

I took six of Doug's jackets with me. He explained that he was working on a lecture tour and was planning his return to magic. I spoke to him a few more times on the phone. We had nice conversations about his return to magic and his love for Debbie. But, after a couple conversations, I began to realize that something was wrong. I acted like I didn't know.

I went back to his home to return the jackets with the topits installed. Again, he was just a voice behind the screen. Debbie showed him the jackets and he said he was very pleased with them and could hardly wait to start practicing. Debbie and I had tea and a lovely conversation and I was on my way.

Two weeks later I heard the terrible news that Doug had passed away. Again, I called my Mom, only this time I wasn't happy, I was devastated. I couldn't believe that he was gone. A couple of days later, I received a call from Debbie's brother saying that she wanted to invite me to Doug's memorial service.

I'm thankful to have gotten so close, but sad that time ran out before I was able to peak behind the curtain and truly meet my wizard face to face.

Lynetta
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby castawaydave » February 10th, 2008, 7:49 pm

Thank you for that memory, Lynetta.

"One day, while I was still living in Los Angeles, my phone rang and when I answered it, the voice on the other end of line said, "Hello, this is Doug Henning." I thought someone was playing a joke on me, but they weren't, it really was Doug Henning!"

--Think of that!
Awesome.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Roger M. » February 10th, 2008, 7:56 pm

That's a great story Lynetta.

Doug asking YOU to put the work into his jackets is really the finest compliment he could give.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Kevin Connolly » February 10th, 2008, 9:35 pm

Now, that was a GREAT story. Thanks Lynetta.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Donal Chayce » February 11th, 2008, 9:47 am

What a lovely anecdote. Thanks, Lynetta.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby thecardman » February 11th, 2008, 12:43 pm

I hope you don't mind what might turn out to be a mindless wander through a couple of my memories of Doug Henning.

Around Christmas time when I was younger, Scottish Television (Scotland's commercial TV station, as opposed to the BBC) would show some of the American magic specials - mostly David Copperfield and Doug Henning. One Christmas, when I was about 7 or 8, I got my first magic set and a couple of days later STV showed Doug's second special. This was the one with "The Flaming Miracle", the vanishing and reappearing elephant, the Symphony of the Rings and Ricky Jay.

It was like he made you believe in magic. My world was turned upside down. Where did that elephant go? How did the ball float? How did that knot slide from one part of the rope to the other? All these questions and no answers. And I loved it.

STV would repeat this special numerous times over the following years and I still love it as much now that I'm in my 30s as I did when I was a child (OK, so maybe I still am!). I think it is safe to say that this was the special to blame for me getting into magic in the first place.

Let's fast-forward a whole bunch of years to 2002. I'm visiting the Magic Castle for the first time and my friend Larry Horowitz is hosting his first Video Night. And it's about Doug Henning! But it turned into something more than a Video Night. There was Jim Stienmeyer and John Gaughan. There were a couple of his former dancers. The Tour Manager of the final tour. And on and on. I sat quietly at the back and watched some of the performances from the 4th special (the last one to be done live) and listened to the stories. I felt like I was that 7 or 8 year old kid again - and I loved every moment of it once again. I don't think I ever said this to Larry, so I'll do it here - thank you for you work in putting that night together. It was one of the biggest highlights of my 2002 US trip.

Mr Henning, for that initial spark of interest - thank you!

Best wishes

Peter
:)

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Doug Brewer » February 11th, 2008, 2:26 pm

Great anecdotes! What is really sad, I've found, when asked by laymen who some of my favorite magicians are, and I say "Doug Henning" a lot of them don't know who I'm talking about. And these are people my age, not younglings whose collective memory goes back 5 years. My parents got tickets to see his show when he was touring (I was probably 10 or 11 years old) when, just before he got to our town, he got injured on stage and had to cancel his tour. I was so disappointed I was almost ill . . .

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby VanishingRabbit » February 12th, 2008, 3:25 pm

I would like to find a good home for the following Doug Henning poster. I bought it a long long time ago and it is in MINT condition

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... %3DSelling

Doug got me interested in Magic and taught me that the Magic inside myself comes first, then the rest will follow

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 3rd, 2010, 12:17 pm

As hard as it is to believe (for those of us in my generation and older), Doug Henning would have been 63 years-old today (5/3).

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby amp » May 3rd, 2010, 2:46 pm

I think his Birthday is the 4th?

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby amp » May 3rd, 2010, 2:48 pm

Nope you're right. I always thought it was the 4th .oh well.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 3rd, 2010, 4:14 pm

Why would you be ill? Ask someone under the age of 40 if they know who Robert Mitchum or Burt Lancaster are. When you get a "no," then you can feel ill.
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Steve Bryant » May 3rd, 2010, 4:17 pm

Last week my young work colleagues, who are constantly looking for new movies to select from Netflix, admitted that they had never seen a Cary Grant movie.

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 3rd, 2010, 4:28 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Why would you be ill? Ask someone under the age of 40 if they know who Robert Mitchum or Burt Lancaster are. When you get a "no," then you can feel ill.

Guess what Richard: He can feel ill.

I just took a quick poll of four people under 40 here in my office.

Three of the four had no clue who Robert Mitchum or Burt Lancster were. In fact, two asked if Mitchum had anything to do with the deodorant and one thought Lancaster was a former Major League pitcher.

The remaining one had heard of Lancaster, knew he was an actor, but couldnt identify any of his movies. Of Mitchum, he said, He was on TV, right?

Face it man; were OLD!!!

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 3rd, 2010, 7:14 pm

Feel free to feel old if you are still thinking about Britney and have not noticed Lady Gaga. And yes they are both ... last week's news.

Any thoughts on Batman XXX?

Things seem to go in cycles - so Doug Henning type sincerity and a focus on wonder will return.

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Re: Remembering Doug.

Postby Terry » May 3rd, 2010, 7:52 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:Face it man; were OLD!!!


We're not old, just raised during a time of real actors bringing quality writing to life.

Now? "Reality" shows full of no-class wannabe somethings who couldn't speak dialogue more challenging than "you know'.


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