TV's Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert, Dies at 89
He was 89. Herbert, who had been battling bone cancer, passed away at his home in suburban Bell Canyon, Calif., his son-in-law, Tom Nikosey, told the Associated Press.
His NBC show Watch Mr. Wizard, which was set in a science classroom, debuted in 1951, won a Peabody Award in 1954 and ran until 1964.
In the '80s, Herbert starred in Mr. Wizard's World on Nickelodeon. So established was he as a TV presence that he was a guest on the 1982 premiere episode of Late Night with David Letterman.
"He really taught kids how to use the thinking skills of a scientist," former colleague Steve Jacobs told the AP. "He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow, but it was in-depth and forced you to think along. You were learning about the forces of nature."
A native of Waconia, Minn., Herbert graduated Wisconsin's LaCrosse State Teachers College in 1940 and served as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War II. He tried acting, modeling and writing for radio before starting Watch Mr. Wizard in Chicago. Aimed at kids aged 8 to 13, the program later re-located to New York and was picked up by 100 stations, according to The New York Times.
Herbert is survived by six children and stepchildren and by his second wife, Norma, according to his son-in-law. A private funeral service is planned.
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