Don Herbert, a.k.a. Mr. Wizard, died of cancer on Tuesday, a month before what would have been his 90th birthday. Most of you guys are too young to remember him. I'm almost too young to remember him, except that, as the child of a single mother, the television was my babysitter. In the days before Josie and the Pussycats and Scooby-Do, Where Are You?, Satureday morning were about three things:
2) Watch Mr. Wizard
3) Bugs Bunny
All of that was over by about 10 am, and then, it was "go outside and play" time, until sundown. New shows in the Watch Mr. Wizard series were produced until '65, but I recall reruns going for some time after that, because I'm pretty sure I was nearly ten when I was still watching.
Because I'm late to this news, I will simply refer you to two other excellent articles on him -- His official obit in the NY Times, and Marty Kaplan's gushy-but-sweet tribute at Huffington Post.
Don Herbert represents a time in America's history (late 50s - early 60s) when being smart wasn't considered "elite," and being folksy-stupid wasn't considered "cute." It was a time when, as the "greatest country on Earth," we were expected to know stuff and act on it appropriately. Herbert, along with his brave little assistant, Timmy, embodied that. Even for those of us who never went into the sciences professionally, he sparked a curiousity in how things worked, why they did what they did, and how we could impact or preserve the process. He birthed an entire generation of science geeks -- both professional and amateur -- and many of us have moved on to pass the curiosity and love of science, biology and physics on to our children.
So, here's another farewell to Don Herbert, from someone who watched Mr. Wizard.