Categotry Archives: Media


Don Herbert


Categories: Actors, Education, Hollywood, Media, Scientists

mrwizard.jpgScience is fun for everyone. That’s the message Donald Jeffry Herbert tried to convey to millions of children as “Mr. Wizard.”

Herbert made the subject of science seem both mysterious and magical. His weekly, half-hour educational program, “Watch Mr. Wizard,” which aired in black and white on NBC from 1951 to 1964, introduced young viewers to the joys of conducting experiments with simple household items. With the help of his young assistants, Mr. Wizard explained what makes a cake rise, how water comes out of a kitchen tap and why seashells sound like the ocean. He even showed kids how to cook a hot dog with a battery.

“Watch Mr. Wizard” won a Peabody Award and three Thomas Alva Edison National Mass Media Awards, and was reinvented on Nickelodeon in the 1980s as “Mr. Wizard’s World.” In both programs, Herbert eschewed a lab coat and professorial attitude. Instead his informal approach to teaching made science accessible, and instilled a sense of wonder in his audience. “Over the years, Don has been personally responsible for more people going into the sciences than any other single person in this country,” George Tressel, a National Science Foundation official, once said.

Born in Waconia, Minn., Herbert always had a passion for the theatre. In high school, he played the lead role in the school play; in college, he was the director of the Pioneer Players. He graduated from La Crosse State Teacher’s College with a degree in English and science, then spent the next several years honing his acting skills. He worked as a stage hand and actor for the Minnesota Stock Co., did summer stock with Nancy Davis (Reagan) and performed as magician and master of ceremonies in Winnipeg, Canada. He had just moved to New York City to break into the big time when World War II put a hold on his show business plans.

Herbert enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, and graduated from his training as a pilot and second lieutenant. He was shipped overseas, where he completed 56 bombing missions over northern Italy, Germany and Yugoslavia. For courage under fire, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak-leaf clusters.

Upon his return to the states, Herbert moved to Chicago, where he worked as an actor, model and writer. He taught radio writing at the Chicago Radio Institute, and developed programs based on interviews he captured on his portable audio tape recorder. Many of those interviews ended up on the radio show “It’s Your Life.”

When Herbert created an early version of his “Mr. Wizard” show and presented it to potential advertisers, none of them were interested. Once he turned the program over to producer Charles Power, however, “Watch Mr. Wizard” found both a sponsor (The Cereal Institute) and a home (WMAQ, Chicago’s NBC affiliate). During its first year on the air, Herbert produced 28 live episodes. The following year, 1952, he produced 39 “Watch Mr. Wizard” episodes and began appearing on CBS as a progress reporter for “General Electric Theater.” After profiles of Herbert appeared in American Boy magazine, Science Digest and TV Guide, thousands of Mr. Wizard Science Clubs formed in the United States.

NBC canceled “Watch Mr. Wizard” in 1965, but Herbert continued his campaign to educate the youth of North America. He went to Canada and produced “Mr. Wizard,” a TV show that was carried on the CBC nationwide. He received grants from the National Science Foundation and The Arthur P. Sloane Foundation and used the money to make the “Experiment Series.” Herbert wrote/illustrated articles for the “Science for the Classroom From Mr. Wizard” series, and penned several books, including “Mr. Wizard’s 400 Experiments in Science” and “Mr. Wizard’s Supermarket Science.” He also created more than 100 “How About…” reports that were freely distributed to television stations.

In 1986, Herbert received a Golden Anniversary Award from Ohio State University, and a “Distinguished Television Science Reporting” honor from AAS/Westinghouse Science Journalism Awards. Five years later, he was given the Robert A, Millikan Award from the American Association or Physics Teachers for his “notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.” When he received the Council for Elementary Science International’s Science Advocate Award in 2000, an audience of 1,000 science teachers gave him a standing ovation.

Herbert died on June 12 of bone cancer. He was 89. Less than a week after his death, the U.S. House of Representatives honored him for his “profound public service and educational contributions.”

Watch the Opening Credits for “Mr. Wizard’s World”


Jacques Roche

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Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

Jacques Roche, a well-known Haitian journalist, was found shot to death on July 14 on a Port-au-Prince street. He was in his early 40s.
The print/broadcast reporter and poet was kidnapped at gunpoint on July 10 while driving in the capital city. The abductors requested ransom money from his family, but they were unable to comply.
“They demanded $250,000, but after a lot of negotiation, they revised the amount downwards to $10,000. His relatives and friends had collected $10,000 that was sent to the kidnappers. Then they said they were waiting for the $240,000 remaining,” said journalist Chenald Augustin.
Roche edited the arts and culture section of Le Matin newspaper, and worked as a sports commentator for Radio IBO. He also hosted a local TV program on civil society issues, including one show about Groupe des 184, a coalition of 13 prominent business, religious and civic groups. Groupe des 184 played a role in the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last year.
Roche’s body, which was found handcuffed and chained to a chair, showed signs of torture. His arms had been broken and burned, and his body was covered in blood.
[Update – July 19, 2005: Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue plans to schedule a national day of mourning for Roche. The government is also considering renaming the street where Roche’s body was found after him.]


Brian Blaine Reynolds

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Categories: Media

Brian Blaine Reynolds, a philanthropist who was also the first staff photographer at Sports Illustrated, died on June 2 of kidney disease. He was 89.
Born Hy Peskin, the Brooklyn native originally planned to become a sportswriter. He wrote for the New York Daily Mirror as a young man, but switched to photography when he learned it was a more lucrative profession. By the 1940s, Reynolds was freelancing for national publications, such as Life, the Saturday Evening Post and Time. But it was his work as a sports photographer that earned him both fame and fortune.
Hired by Sports Illustrated in 1954, Reynolds shot 634 assignments for the magazine over four decades. Two of his most memorable pictures — one featuring golfer Ben Hogan at the end of a swing on the 72nd hole during the 1950 U.S. Open, and one showing boxer Carmen Basilio celebrating after he knocked out Tony DeMarco in 1955 — were later named to Sports Illustrated’s list of favorite photos of the 20th century. In addition to sports, Reynolds shot portraits of writers (William Faulkner), presidents (Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy) and world leaders (Fidel Castro). He also produced the “Latin Quarter Lovelies” spread for Playboy in 1957.
The photographer changed his name in 1964 to Brian Blaine Reynolds, then launched a second career as a philanthropist. He helped organize the World Series of Sports Fishing with Ted Williams and created the American Academy of Achievement, a nonprofit organization that introduces young people to some of the greatest thinkers, artists, writers, athletes, explorers and humanitarians of our time. The academy, which is currently run by his youngest son, Wayne, sponsors an annual summit and operates the Museum of Achievement in Washington, D.C.
Reynolds did not always agree with his son’s management practices, and sued him several times in the late 1980s for “collusion, fraud, conversion, breach of implied covenant, false imprisonment, denial of due process, duress and slander.” In 1990, a California jury ruled in the elder Reynolds’ favor and awarded him $800,000. Reynolds returned to his artistic roots in his later years to photograph a boxing match between a man and a woman for Sports Illustrated, and to appear in a 2002 HBO documentary on sports photographers.
View a Tribute From Sports Illustrated


Bob Hunter


Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

bhunter.jpgRobert Hunter, a founding member of Greenpeace, died on May 2 of prostate cancer. He was 64.
The Manitoba native wasn’t an apt pupil in school. Instead of doing his homework, he would draw or write novels. Hunter’s interest in more creative pursuits led him to drop out of high school and join the media. In the 1960s, he worked as a reporter for the Winnipeg Tribune, then became a popular counter-culture columnist for the Vancouver Sun.
Hunter always had an interest in environmental issues, but it wasn’t until 1971 that he switched from observer to activist mode. That year, he and a group of 11 friends sailed an 80-foot fishing boat from Vancouver to Alaska in an effort to stop the American military from conducting nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. Their demonstration led to the cancellation of the testing program and the island’s transformation into a wildlife sanctuary.
In 1972, the crew joined forces again to form Greenpeace, an international environmental movement with more than 2.8 million members. As the organization’s first president, Hunter helped turn Greenpeace into the most powerful environmental lobby in the world. He dyed the white coats of baby harp seals to make them commercially worthless, stood between Russian harpoon hunters and their whale prey and coined the terms “eco-warrior” and “media mind bomb.” Time magazine even named him one of the 10 “eco-heroes” of the 20th century.
Hunter returned to journalism in the late 1980s as an ecology reporter for City TV. He hosted the popular morning show “Papercuts” in his bathrobe, and entertained audiences by reading newspaper headlines and commenting on the stories. Hunter also wrote more than a dozen books, penned scripts for the syndicated TV series “The Beachcombers,” and made several documentaries, including one about his fight with prostate cancer. For his environmental and journalistic efforts, Hunter won five Western Magazine Awards, a CanPro Award and the Canadian Environmental Award.
Listen to an Interview With the CBC

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