Doc Dougherty Dies After Surgery

Doc and Harry Anderson

Harold “Doc” Dougherty, one of the best known professional magicians in the

Washington area, died Monday night. He was 59. Doc was a long time member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a former president of the IBM Ring 50 in Washington.

After having battled serious complications of severe diabetes for many years, Doc was admitted to Washington Hospital Center before Christmas, where he underwent a double leg amputation for circulatory problems.

(This is not the same person as the “Doc Dougherty” known in the
Pittsburgh area.)

Doc also was a demonstrator at Al’s Magic Shop in downtown
Washington for many years. Al Cohen, who operated the magic store for more than five decades, praised Doc’s skills as a performer and inventor.

“He was just a neat guy,” Al recalled. “He was completely dedicated to
magic. He loved performing and he loved people. He was just a real
showman. He really was.”

Steve Brown, the current proprietor of Al’s Magic, said, “It’s a sad day
in DC. I’ve missed him a lot over the past months and now even more.”

Many remember him as an auctioneer at annual Ring 50 magic sales along with another well-known area magician, Dick Christian. During a guest appearance at a Ring 50 meeting in the…

Doc and Harry Anderson

Harold “Doc” Dougherty, one of the best known professional magicians in the

Washington area, died Monday night. He was 59. Doc was a long time member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a former president of the IBM Ring 50 in Washington.

After having battled serious complications of severe diabetes for many years, Doc was admitted to Washington Hospital Center before Christmas, where he underwent a double leg amputation for circulatory problems.

(This is not the same person as the “Doc Dougherty” known in the
Pittsburgh area.)

Doc also was a demonstrator at Al’s Magic Shop in downtown
Washington for many years. Al Cohen, who operated the magic store for more than five decades, praised Doc’s skills as a performer and inventor.

“He was just a neat guy,” Al recalled. “He was completely dedicated to
magic. He loved performing and he loved people. He was just a real
showman. He really was.”

Steve Brown, the current proprietor of Al’s Magic, said, “It’s a sad day
in DC. I’ve missed him a lot over the past months and now even more.”

Many remember him as an auctioneer at annual Ring 50 magic sales along with another well-known area magician, Dick Christian. During a guest appearance at a Ring 50 meeting in the fall of 1996, Doc recalled
growing up in show business in a slide show presentation and performance headlined “Carnivals, Circuses and Showboats.” His appearance then was a reprise of a lecture he gave as part of a Smithsonian Institution six week series titled “Magic: It’s In the Cards for Summer.”

A native of
West Virginia, Doc was only 3 when he began working with his father, who was a magician and ventriloquist, in an act called “Doc
Dougherty’s Dolls” which played in theaters and schools. By the time he
was 10, Doc had traveled in 32 states as well as
Mexico and Canada.
During those early years, he performed with carnivals and circuses. In
1965, he was the last magician to ever work a touring showboat. Doc came to the
Washington area in the late 1960s hoping to become a radio and television announcer. Somehow that aspiration never made it into his growing list of jobs.

While at the Smithsonian Institution, Doc was director of photography.
He also was a photographer for the New Playwrights Theatre. He served as a stage director for various groups and was involved in six
Washington premiers. He taught a magician-actor “10 minutes of bad magic” for the Folger Shakespeare Theatre production of “As You Like It.”

In more recent years, Doc worked as a photo technician for a Penn Camera store in downtown
Washington while continuing to do magic shows at embassies, trade shows and other venues in the Washington area.

During appearances of master magicians such as David Copperfield in
Washington, D.C., Doc often worked behind the scenes as a stage hand.


Doc’s credits go on and on. He was a demonstrator-salesman on Saturdays at Al’s Magic Shop for many years. He has performed as a magician at shopping mall promotions, night clubs, theaters, conventions, and trade shows, on television and on film. He hosted a public television show in

Northern Virginia that showcased local magicians.
Doc’s Prime Cut from Al’s Magic Shop

Many remember Doc at the old Brook Farm Inn of Magic in

Maryland. He
also performed as a psychic entertainer and was a student of
mentalism and the history of spiritualism. He served as president of
Ring 50 for two consecutive terms, during which he helped bring the
International Convention of the I.B.M. to
Washington, DC in 1977.

Doc was president of Assembly 23 of the Society of American Magicians in 1982. He also was active as a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association. Doc also was an inventor of many magic effects such as “Prime Cut” and “Castaway” that remain popular items today.

Ring 50 plans a Broken Wand ceremony as part of its meeting on
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 (8:00 PM at the Channel Inn Hotel in SW DC).

Eric Henning is the 2003-2004 President of Ring 50 in Washington DC. You can visit the incredibly well-produced Ring 50 website at http://www.IBMRing50.org

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