Debby Henning was the wife, assistant, business partner and muse to illusionist Doug Henning.
Debby was born Deborah Ann Douillard to Roger and Ann Douillard, who ran a contracting firm in a New York suburb.
Debby received her B.F.A. from the Cooper Union for he Advancement of Art and Science in New York where she majored in painting, graphics and video art. She was successful as a painter and graphic artist and also in the clothing design business. As well, Debby starred in several summer theater musicals (including Fiddler on the Roof and Applause) and studied mime, jazz dance and singing.
Debby also married Mexican artist Jose Carcamo, whom she divorced in 1980.
Debby met Doug Henning at a charity benefit at the Transcendental Meditation Center at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. Doug was a guest and entertainer and Debby was a volunteer worker.
"Dougy was supposed to speak that night and do some magic, and I was supposed to tell him when to go on stage." Debbie told Beverly Hills  magazine in 1986. "So I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around and we looked at each other. It was an overwhelming experience. Dougy almost fell off his chair. My heart was racing. After my heart finally calmed down, time literally seemed to go into slow motion."
"After the show," she continued, "he came over and tapped me on the shoulder and asked if we could talk later. So we went somewhere and talked a long, long time, and I remember having this powerful feeling of recognition. It just swept over me. I couldn't help myself. I whispered, "I know you.""
"My friends told me there was practically a flash of light," Doug told People magazine in the December 20, 1982 edition. "I had never felt anything like it in my life."
Debby agreed, "It was like I blossomed right on the spot."
They were engaged within a week. "I proposed to her four days later,” Doug said, “I made a diamond appear in a rose petal and it rolled out into her hand." On December 6, Doug and Debby were married at the University. "When I perform, I could love a million people, but I had trouble loving one person … Debby's helped me overcome my fear of intimacy."
Debby became Doug's assistant, appearing as a singer and dancer, as well as designing all of the costumes, for Merlin and on tour.
"I was scared to death the first time I performed," Debby recalled, "but then I started to love it. In a sense, Dougy forced me to overcome my natural shyness."
- People Weekly. December 20, 1982, pages 70-72.
- Playbill Magazine. December 11, 1984.
- Beverly Hills . November 12, 1986, pages 6-7.