Mr. Wizard is Dead, and I’m Confused


Sad news from Southern California: Don “Mr. Wizard” Herbert, who taught several generations of kids to mix beakers of liquids together to produce strange and educational results, has passed away at the age of 89.

When I heard the news, what came to mind was the same thing that always comes to my mind when I think of Mr. Wizard: that one of my high school science teachers had told us that he had taken science classes from Herbert. I’ve kinda taken a certain pride in the notion that I studied science with one of Mr. Wizard’s students–which is an odd thing to take pride in, given that I was a truly terrible science student.

But Herbert’s obit, or at least the one in the LA Times, seems to suggest that he was an actor, not a teacher. I’m now confronted with the possibility that my teacher was one of millions of Mr. Wizard fans, and was speaking metaphorically. Or I had a false memory. Or something.

(Actually, I think it’s possible that many of my memories of my school days are groundless: For years, I had vivid memories of watching the first moon landing at kindergarten in 1969. Until someone gently pointed out to me that I wouldn’t have been in class in July…)

7 comments on “Mr. Wizard is Dead, and I’m Confused”

  1. Beakman and Bill Nye should wire flowers asap, because without Mr. Wizard, they have no careers.

    Godspeed, Don Herbert.

  2. Mike–it was Al, although the idea of Julia Euling (was she a science teacher? I remember her, but not her discipline) watching attentively as Mr. Wizard fiddled with beakers is an entertaining one. Did you take classes from him? From your message, I assume you have no memory of him claiming time in the presence of the great man?


  3. I not only took classes from him, I hung out in the chem lab a lot with Tony. Al was the first person to help me get drunk, too. I don’t remember Al talking about Mr. Wizard, though he had a swell collection of Dick Whitney film loops!

  4. My other memory of Al–other than his comment, “Harry remains an enigma to me” on my report card–was that the members of the class I took from him formally signed the wall in his classroom. I wonder if our autographs remain?

  5. You know, I totally forgot about signing the ceiling. I helped redo the lab after graduation and we left the ceiling then. I wish I had checked on it when I was just there! Dick Whitney was this guy who made little educational science film loops for loop projectors. He’d add chemicals to make reactions, explosions, etc and even though silent, they were kind of funny. They gave the impression that no one had ever seen them.

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