The Quick 10: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Mr. Wizard

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1. He acted with Nancy Reagan (then Nancy Davis) in 1940 as an actor at the Coach House summer theater.

2. After summer theater he decided to go pro - when he graduated LaCrosse State Teacher's College in Wisconsin in 1940, he headed to NYC to pursue a career on Broadway.

3. His Broadway dreams were interrupted when WWII happened and he decided to serve his country as a private in the Army Air Forces. He was a B-24 bomber pilot and flew 56 missions. By the time he was discharged in 1945, he was a Captain and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

4. Although a lot of us probably know him from Mr. Wizard's World, the idea actually started with a 1951 T.V. show called Watch Mr. Wizard. Among other prestigious awards, the show won a Peabody and three Thomas Alva Edison National Mass Media Awards.

5. Don Herbert and his wife developed a traveling assembly program featuring young performers teaching students about science. It's estimated that the show was presented to about 1.2 million students every year.

6. Some of Mr. Wizard's shows included teaching kids why cakes rise, how to cook a hot dog by electrocuting it and showing how centrifugal force worked by using a bucket of water.

7. He took notes on every experiment and never threw them out - he ended up with at least 18 cabinets full of notes.

8. He was a fairly frequent guest on Hollywood Squares during the 1986 season. I so would have called on Mr. Wizard - you know he knew his stuff.

9. You know the Diet Coke and Mentos geyser? The man responsible for the 18-foot record, Steve Spangler, was inspired to start his career in science by none other than Mr. Wizard.

10. The educational show Beakman's World had a little homage to Mr. Wizard: the two penguin puppets on the show were named Don and Herb.

Do you have a favorite Mr. Wizard experiment? Share it in the comments.

June 12, 2008 - 9:54am
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