Memories of Mr. Wizard

Wizard_lSo Mr. Wizard is dead, and I am reminded of one of my earliest memory of 1980s childhood. I’m in front of the TV watching Mr. Wizard’s World, the Nickelodeon science-experiment show hosted by the now-deceased Don Herbert, a sweater-wearing sorcerer who, to a kid staring up at the TV, felt as simultaneously mythic and approachable as Santa Claus. All of a sudden, according to my memory, Mr. Wizard pours a clear pitcher of plain old water on top of a medium-sized tin gas-can type of thing—and, upon contact, the gas-can type of thing shrivels inward onto itself, just like the Wicked Witch of the West. Up to then, I’d certainly never seen anything so otherworldly. Water melts metal! Of course I don’t remember how he did it, and, never providing myself with a good education in the sciences (never took chemistry; science isn’t that cool), I still don’t know how he did it. Which possibly makes me, even today, not as smart as a fifth-grader.

That’s just about the only thing I remember from Mr. Wizard’s World, though I undoubtedly watched hours and hours of the show back then, alongside old Nickelodeon classics like You Can’t Do That on Television, Danger Mouse, and Turkey Television. (Anybody else remember the Liver Milkshake?) When I close my eyes I do also see Mr. Wizard guiding a kid’s hand as he points a long, thin prodding stick up at a balloon, which then explodes into a fireball upon contact. That clip is actually reproduced in this Mr. Wizard’s World DVD promo, which includes a lot of fireball action, enough to make me wonder how many times Don Herbert accidentally singed his eyebrows off.

Got any good Mr. Wizard memories? Anybody know how Mr. Wizard melted metal with water? Seriously, I always meant to figure that out. The guy dying reminds me that I never did.

addCredit(“Don Herbert: Everett Collection”)

Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • kelli

    first: you are offically the only person i “know” who remembers Turkey Television!!!!! i freakin’ LOVED that show! Do you remember that show that used to dub voices onto old timey movies, too?
    second: while i do not remember any specifics about Mr. Wizard (R.I.P), i do recall the following:
    The Bloodhound Gang
    oh, how i wanted to be one of the kids on that show!!

  • amanda

    Oh my god! Someone else remembers Turkey Television too? I never mention it anymore because no one remembered it.
    I remember Mr. Wizard using salt to pick up an ice cube with a string. I tried it and it works, for a very short time.

  • Kate

    Wasn’t it something like there was hot water in the can and the cold water poured over it caused it to contract (not really melt but I know what you meant) Or vice versa…

  • Jenny

    Thank you, PopWatch.

  • Ep Sato

    There was more than one Mr. Wizard, though the one who spoke at my school wasn’t the guy on Nickelodeon. That said, he was still able to seal a ball with air that two students couldn’t open, prove how an egg could withstand some 30 pounds of weight before crushing, and how to remove the tablecloth without knocking off all the plates (My mom never let me try this, explaing how “they use all paper plates and paper cups in Mr. Wizard’s house after he broke all the glass”).
    Regarding old school nick, I love Danger Mouse with a passion and miss the “true stories from famous people” segments. Oh, and BananaMan was pretty cool (with the strength of 20 men, 20 BIIGG MEN).

  • Scotto

    Perfect Tommy: Emilio Lizardo. Wasn’t he on TV once?
    Buckaroo Banzai: You’re thinking of Mr. Wizard.
    Reno: Emilio Lizardo is a top scientist, dummkopf.
    Perfect Tommy: So was Mr. Wizard.

  • Wayne

    My favorite show was Count Duckula, that show rocked!

  • kathryn

    my absolute favorite experiment from mr. wizard involved dry ice, hot dogs, and a hammer…awesome.

  • mikey

    More significant than any single experiment was Mr. Wizard teaching us the idea that science could be accessible and fun. A torch, ahem, Bunsen burner that was later passed to Bill Nye the Science Guy. To me, the saddest thing about Mr. Wizard’s passing is the reminder that there doesn’t seem to be anyone resonating with kids in today’s pop culture who makes physical science fun, friendly and cool.

  • Queen of Disrepair

    Every year I use my favorite Mr.Wizard episode with my students. He shows chemical reactions and has some Peter Brady lookalike knock balloons with a lighted blow torch to determine what gas is in them. We love the big hydrogen explosion!

  • BJohnson

    Stay focused bloggers!
    I’m sorry I can’t answer your question but I do remember doing two experiments: One was how sound travels from the needle of record player (yeah, the 80s rocked). The other was how you could put a piece of tape on a blown up balloon, stick a needle in at the tape and the balloon didn’t pop. I’ve completely forgotten the science of it all, but I loved being able to try those experiments at home. RIP Mr. Wizard!

  • Dee

    “So, Mr. Wizard is dead…”
    “The guy dying…”
    Being kind of harsh, aren’t you Greg?

  • atskooc

    mr. wizard taught me how to blow smoke rings (i don’t smoke, but it made for a cool party trick in college). he set a candle in a cardboard box with a hole cut in one side. then he hit the back of the box, sending a perfect smoke ring across the room. from that, i taught myself to blow smoke rings (this was several years later, mind you; i wasn’t blowing rings in elementary school!).
    thanks, mr. wizard. you will be missed.

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