Don Herbert has died

We all knew him as Mr Wizard, of course. He was a great no-nonsense science teacher who influenced a whole generation of kids — he taught us that science was a very down-to-earth process that worked. He didn’t have a lot of flash and pizazz, and the production values on his show were downright cheap, and he never seemed to get carried away; he was the exact opposite of the televangelists, who were all gaudy extravagance and no results.

True nerds loved Mr Wizard. Being undemonstrative nerds meant we never said it. We’ll miss you, Mr Wizard.


  1. says

    I was actually in high school when I started watching it. It was still very interesting, and entertaining to watch. To me, what he showed was better than magic. (Yes, I was a geek, event then.)

    Maybe I should see if his episodes are on Youtube, or DVD. So, I can save them for my daughter to watch when she gets older.

  2. Steve LaBonne says

    My goodness, I had no idea good old Mr. Wizard had still been alive. I feel so old… He was wonderful, and I hope he had the rich life and peaceful passing he deserved. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever see his like in the mass media again.

  3. says

    Goodbye, dear sir.

    I loved that man’s show. In it, he embodied everything cool and fun and fascinating and worthwhile about science.

  4. Brian Thompson says

    I LOVED his show when I was young. I’d probably still like it now. He taught me a lot about the way the world worked. I think it had a big influence on my decision to take science classes in high school – which then led me to science in college.

  5. Lya Kahlo says

    Man. That both takes me back and makes me sad. That show was the reason I became the huge science nerd I am today.

    Rest in Piece, Mr. Herbert

  6. fusilier says

    Of course I wanted to be Mr. Wizard when I grew up.

    Still do.

    Requiescat in pace, Don Herbert.

    James 2:24

  7. Gray Lensman says

    Don Herbert did all of his earliest shows live, with no retakes. A brave man. If something went wrong on a demonstration, he would try to explain the process, just like a real classroom teacher.

  8. says

    I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the TV, raptly watching Don Herbert’s Mr. Wizard. (The world was black-and-white in those days.) He didn’t do “personality”, but he was wonderfully measured and straightforward. The surprising results from some of the experiments were thrown in sharper relief by his flat affect. No, I didn’t realize it at the time, but Don Herbert was lodestone and I was ferrous. I’ve pointed toward scientific north ever since he magnetized me.

  9. Bruce says

    Sorry to hear he’s gone. He seemed old when I watched him as a kid, but then, anyone older than Spin and Marty seemed old back then.
    He made the “ideas” behind science accessible to me. Thanks, Mr. Wizard!

  10. Davis says

    Allow me to chime in: RIP, Mr Wizard. I too watched him on our small B&W TV in the 50s and had no idea he was still alive. I also didn’t know the show lasted into the 60s.

  11. Pablo says

    Probably my first favorite real-live scientist (as opposed to my favorite pretend-scientist, the Professor). When I was in college, I called Mr. Wizard to invite him to campus for a seminar. He declined, but it was certainly a thrill for me to talk to him. I got his number out of the phone book.

  12. dan says

    I grew up on “What’s New” [in the early 60s]. Not mr.wizard. Anyone recall this wnet[?] show?

    Young minds need a baptism of science to avoid the baptism of non-science[read nonsense]. I’m forever grateful.

  13. QrazyQat says

    Mr. Wizard was cool. Pat Paulsen did a great and loving spoof of him called Mr. Science on his short-lived show.

    Capt. Kangaroo
    Mr. Rogers
    Mr. Wizard

    The Big Three are all gone now. (and Mr. Dressup in Canada too)

  14. says

    I am older than dirt. I watched “Watch Mr Wizard” and nearly nothing else [Ed Sullivan would be an occasional treat, or Firing Line] when I was maybe 10 or so. It is one of the earliest influences in my life that I can point to in explanation of my strong interest in science and my preference for a scientific approach to any problem. I is a sad milestone to note his passing. I would have figured at least he had a long life but nope, only 89.

  15. says

    Mr. Wizard’s world was one of the few shows that was targetted at kids that I could actually watch when I was that age. I appreciated not being talked down to and not having brightly-colored images blasted at me. Truly a loss.

    I’m holding out hope that this wizard comes back dressed in white to banish Ken Ham. *crosses fingers*

  16. Ichthyic says

    I’m holding out hope that this wizard comes back dressed in white to banish Ken Ham. *crosses fingers*

    naw, he’s too busy making sure Fallwell doesn’t make it back from the void.


  17. Paula Helm Murray says

    Last night in our Dawn Patrol Chat, a friend of mine said he was usually grounded by Saturday afternoon because of the Saturday morning Mr. Wizard shows. Good times.

    I was flabberghasted when they said he was a television personality who taught himself science, he came across as a good, engaged science teacher. they talked about him during evening rush hour NPR programming.

    He lived a good life and did good works. Can’t do better in my estimation.

  18. says

    OMG, Angie, Julius Sumner Miller. “There it goes . . . watch it . . . watch it . . . ” More affected than Mr. Wizard, but less flashy and more populist than Dr. Jearl Walker. I don’t know if he ever had much of a following here in his native U.S., but my cohort in high school revered him for his geek chic.

  19. Angie says

    Yeah, Josh, he was pretty well known in Australia in the ’60s and ’70s. I remember his enthusiasm and “mad scientist” hair and eyebrows. Then he made TV commercials for chocolate…??!

  20. Ferrous Patella says

    It wasn’t tell your last couple of line that I realized that you were winding up to bash televangelists rather than Bill Nye.