My Inspiration… Don Herbert – The “Original” Mr. Wizard

A popular guest on the Johnny Carson Show, Don Herbert was truly an inspiration to an entire generation of science enthusiasts. I remember watching him as a kid and being impressed by the fact that while he was amazing, he didn’t have a laboratory or wear a lab coat. He just looked like a friendly guy who did amazingly cool science experiments in his garage… what a great neighbor!

In contrast to television today, I was struck by the fact that he would allow an experiment to fail. Why didn’t they edit it out? Because he believed that failure was so important for children to see.

In 1991 I was approached by NBC television to host a 3½-minute science spot in a program called News for Kids. Remember, this was pre “Bill Nye the Science Guy” or “Beakman”. As we planned the look and feel of the segment, something inside told me to call Don Herbert and get his advice… so I did. Here’s what Don Herbet said, “Don’t’ let them put you in a lab coat if you don’t want to look like a doctor or research scientist… just be yourself… and “… never let the ‘gee-whiz-factor’ overtake what you are trying to teach”.

In my 14 years on TV, I can’t let the “gee whiz” overtake what I am trying to teach. And television has changed my teaching greatly – to truly create an edutainment experience.

Read more about Don Herbert and his place in television history, or visit the official Mr. Wizard Website and discover why he continues to influence a new generation of science teachers.

Listen to my podcast on Don Herbert, my hero

(File size is 1.3 MB) (Show length 5 minutes 20 seconds)

11 replies
  1. Dr. K
    Dr. K says:

    Mr. Wizard (Don Herbert) has been and is my hero. Today I am a well-respected Ph.D. and a lot of my love for science and learning is due to Mr. Wizard. Thank you Don Herbert!

  2. Phyllis
    Phyllis says:

    I had the pleasure of growing up with the Herbert children in Bronxville, NY and caught the science bug quite early. My elementary Science teacher Mr. Scott was able to book Mr Wizard often at our school and I often dreamt about being an “assistant” on his TV show. I am now a K-5 Science supervisor in NJ and am constantly sharing my love of science with the kids but most importantly with the science phobic elementary teachers I supervise. Thank you Mr. Wizard and your website is super!

  3. Russell
    Russell says:

    RIP Mr. Wizard. I enjoyed your shows growing up.

    You were a great American! Thank You for your service in WWII and thereafter. You will be missed.

  4. J.R.
    J.R. says:

    Coincidentally . .I was looking up a picture of Mr. Wizard to post a picture of him as a praise of thanks; to the experiment being discussed. I saw him preform this particular experiment on T.V. as a child.

    I saw the news and tears began to roll off my face.
    Rest in Peace ~ Don Herbert, A Truly Respectable and Honorable Man. We will miss you.

  5. JP
    JP says:

    Whenever I’m asked where I learned cool science tricks or facts, I have always credited Mr. Wizard. He turned on the lightbulb in my mind. I will never forget him.

    Thank you, Don Herbert.

    I’ll miss you, Mr Wizard…

  6. Bo Fox
    Bo Fox says:

    I’m one of the zillions of baby boomers who faithfully tuned in each week to watch Don Herbert perform his science experiments on the original “Watch Mr Wizard” way back in those innocent years. Mr. Herbert made science fun! That was his gift to all of us. This is a note of sincere, heartfelt thanks to Don and his family.

  7. Dr. Monir Georgi PhD
    Dr. Monir Georgi PhD says:

    I watched Mr. Wizard in the 80´s as a kid in elementary school, as the years passed I continued to watch Mr. Wizard. Sometimes the continuity of a longstanding idol gives us a feeling of solidarity and security. That is exactly what Mr. Wizard represents for many of us…. an image of solidarity and security. His serious demeanor and everlasting presence as an educator if not as a role model has imprinted many young developing minds over the years. Personally I feel privledged to have had an opportunity to witness his show and his legacy. As a PhD in Education I feel that Don Herbert imprinted me, and that impression has helped me become the person I am today. Thank you Mr. Wizard and may your beloved family receive my deepest condolences.

  8. Rick Osterman
    Rick Osterman says:

    As a kid in the early sixties I enjoyed watching Mr. Wizard on saturday mornings,Don not only introduced science to millions of American kids,but also taught us to THINK!Today its mtv or vh1 to teach young minds-no thinking required.

  9. BH
    BH says:

    Mr. Wizard educated so many over several generations in a friendly format that some now regard as anachronistic. Well, he was my friend on TV during those years when friends come and go. I wish him God speed and comfort to his family.

  10. Richard Tanguay
    Richard Tanguay says:

    I was just a kid when Mr. Wizard was on Nickelodeon during its early years. His experiments and lectures were of good quality and understandable to all- including kids. Nickelodeon needs to go back to this kind of programming if they wish to get better ratings in the future. Nonetheless I miss him a lot because of the energy he expressed on his shows as well as great interview video I watched on Google video. He talks about how television is only good for selling stuff as well as to entertain. To some extent I agree with that as television in general has wandered from its original purpose.

    When I first heard about his passing on Michael Savage’s radio show, I almost cried because he is, in my opinion, one ofthe greatest entertainers I have had the privelidge to see in the world. I do hope therewill be another person like him someday who is just about equal to his charisma. Doubt I’ll see it within my lifetime, though. I also plan to purchase his DVDs when they become available in the stores so I can show my future children what entertainment and education should really be- not like it is nowadays!


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  1. fun facts for kids…

    How does the rss feed work so I can get updated on your blog?…

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