Television's 'Mr. Wizard' Don Herbert dies at 89

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don Herbert, known to many as his stage name "Mr. Wizard", died Tuesday night. Mr. Wizard, who is famous for introducing science to children for over 50 years, died of bone cancer at the age of 89 at his Bell Canyon home in Los Angeles.

Cquote1.svg Using everyday equipment made it something that children should not be afraid of. If you used scientific equipment that's strange to the child, it's not going to help him or her understand. Cquote2.svg

—Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard), Interview on Voice of America's Our World

Mr. Wizard was the host of the program Watch Mr. Wizard in the 1950s and 60s, and later Mr. Wizard's World in the 80s. His children-themed shows gave viewers a glimpse into the science world by performing experiments with common household objects. Herbert said in an interview on Voice of America's Our World, a science and technology program, that "Using everyday equipment made it something that children should not be afraid of. If you used scientific equipment that's strange to the child, it's not going to help him or her understand. So we used everyday equipment. And especially because we used everyday equipment in new and unusual ways, which helped." Generations of young scientists tuned in each week to learn about scientific principles and follow along with Mr. Wizard by conducting the same experiments at home.

Herbert, who was born in Waconia, Minnesota, attended the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. After graduating with degrees in English and general science, he joined the US Army Air Corps, and served in World War II as a bomber pilot in Europe. Post-war, he worked as an actor before becoming the host of Watch Mr. Wizard in 1951. The program ran for nearly 15 years on NBC and CBC.

In 1983, the show's format was revived with Mr. Wizard's World, which aired on the Nickelodeon cable network for 7 years. He also appeared on the talk shows of David Letterman (including the premiere episode of Late Night with David Letterman), Johnny Carson, and Regis Philbin, as well as staring as a panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares 5 times in 1986.

Herbert is survived by his wife and six children and step-children.

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