David Berglas

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David Berglas
Born (1926-07-30) 30 July 1926 (age 88)
Occupation psychological magician, mentalist, and mnemonist

David Berglas (born July 30, 1926) is a magician, mentalist, and mnemonist.[1]

Early life[edit]

Berglas, who is of German-Jewish descent,[2] escaped from Nazi Germany and fled to Britain at age 11.[3] At 16 he wanted to become a Spitfire pilot. He lied about his age and managed to join the RAF. When his true age was discovered he was not allowed to complete his training.

Still keen to be part of the war, he discovered that the American Army was urgently looking for suitable recruits for an important role in the denazification of Germany. The requirements were quite stringent. They had to have some previous military training, and to be able to pass strict physical and mental tests. Most importantly they had to speak 2 languages besides English, one of which had to be fluent German. The required minimum age was 21. Berglas explained that he was only 19 but could meet all the other qualifications. He was accepted into the Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army, serving an 'adventure filled' 18 months at the end of WWII. He then attended Bradford Technical College to study textiles with a view of joining his family business based in Wyke.[4]

He first got interested in magic in 1947, through a chance meeting with Ken Brooke. Magic became an all-absorbing hobby for about 5 years, during which time he studied psychotherapy, specialising in medical hypnosis.[5]

Although never performing as a stage hypnotist, his demonstrations gave him the experience of standing in front an audience and handling volunteers on stage. This gave him the confidence when he became a professional magician in 1952, working prestigious nightclubs and then in 1953 appearing at the famous Windmill Theatre, performing 6 times a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks.

David Berglas is the father of Marvin Berglas of Marvin's Magic, the world's largest supplier of professional magic sets. He is also uncle of South African artist Zapiro.


In his 2009 Enigma show brochure, Derren Brown describes David Berglas as "One of our greatest living magical performers" and thanks him "-for his constant inspiration and generosity. Each show is indebted to his artistry and astonishing body of work. Thank you David".

In the 1950s, Berglas created what is now referred to as the "Holy Grail" of card magic, known as "The Berglas Effect."[6]

The effect was first named "The Berglas Effect" by Jon Racherbaumer in his 1984 book "At The Table" [7]

The British Magical Society has the distinction of being the oldest magic club in the UK. It presents 'The David Berglas Trophy' annually (since 1988) to leading British Magicians.[8]

In 1999 he established a non-profit organization called the Foundation for Promoting the Art of Magic (FP-AM). The foundation presents "The David Berglas International Magic Award" annually at the prestigious International Magic Convention in London. It was first awarded to the organisers of the convention, The MacMillan family, then in 2008 to Uri Geller,[9][10] in 2009 to David Copperfield,[11] in 2010 to Juan Tamariz,[12] in 2011 to Derren Brown[13] and in 2012 to Jeff McBride.[14] In 2013 Lu Chen Lu Chen (magician) was the recipient and this year (2014) there was a slight twist to the proceedings.


David Berglas has been involved with numerous major films, acting as a creative consultant and technical advisor, including:

and to date, four other James Bond movies.[citation needed]


Berglas first became a household name in Britain through his regular performances on BBC radio, an unusual role for a magician. He conducted what he called "Nationwide Psychological Experiments", involving millions of listeners in their homes. This part of the show required listeners to write in to confirm their reaction. To this day the BBC's archives have recorded this as being the largest collection of fan mail ever received. During the show's run it was not unusual for David to receive 3000 - 4000 postcards or letters per week.

His weekly broadcasts included sensational stunts, including hanging a box over Regent Street, London for a whole week. It had been officially sealed by the Diplomatic Corps of the Admiralty, and when opened, it contained the passport of a member of the studio audience, sitting in the Playhouse Theatre by the Embankment. It had disappeared just moments before.

He appeared on sound radio, on and off, for about 17 years and when commercial radio first started he had a regular phone-in programme, late at night on London Broadcasting Company, which started in 1973.


He was one of the first magicians to appear on British television with his own show Meet David Berglas in 1954, which regularly attracted audiences of over 19 million viewers. Numerous other television series followed and were highly acclaimed in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Commercial television started in the UK in September 1955 and the first ever series was presented by Berglas on Associated Rediffusion called Focus on Hocus.

In the 1970s he presented a one hour television special from Las Vegas and in the UK he caused a sensation with his Channel 4 series The Mind of David Berglas 1985/86, where he interviewed and entertained celebrity guests including Omar Sharif, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Peter Cook and Max Bygraves.


  • In 1967, after his popular television series in the Netherlands he was named "Television Personality of the Year", the first time it had ever been awarded to a foreign celebrity.
  • President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (British Ring) 1976/1977.[16]
  • He appeared on the cover of The Linking Ring magazine in 1977.[17]
  • The Magic Circle presented him with the coveted "Gold Medal" in the year 2000[18] (which at the time was only the sixth ever to be awarded since 1905). In 1995 he received The "Maskelyne Award" for outstanding contribution to British magic[19] and in October 2011, received The Magic Circle's highest international award, The David Devant.[20]
  • He has also been honoured internationally including the "Gold Plaque" in Sweden, 1980 and the prestigious gold "Grolla" in Italy, 2008.
  • He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Session Convention in Gloucester, January 2011[23]
  • At the Edinburgh International Magic Festival in 2013, he was the recipient of The Great Lafayette Award[24]


In 1967 he released his best-selling Dutch book David Berglas onthult...bijna alles (David Berglas reveals...nearly everything), published by H.J.W. Becht's Uitgeversmaatschappij N.V. and in 1988 A Question of Memory (with Guy Lyon Playfair), published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. (ISBN 0 224 025570).

He has written a substantial number of articles and lecture notes for the magical fraternity, including "The David Berglas File No.1" (1976) and the much sought-after tome, now out of print, The Mind and Magic of David Berglas - As Revealed to David Britland, 2002, published by Jim Steinmeyer through Hahne Publications. This has become a collector's item and is selling for several times its original price.

2011 - He released a book with Richard J. Kaufman entitled "The Berglas Effects" - this is the book named after his famed "Any Card At Any Number" plot. The book has a foreword by Juan Tamariz, an afterword by Max Maven, contains 3 DVDs and also includes a pair of 3D glasses.

2012 - He provided both a contribution and foreword to the PSYCRETS book Liber Mentis (ISBN 978-1-291-10732-6). A mysterium of effects essays and routines, edited and authored by Steve Drury


  1. ^ Randi, James. Conjuring.(St. Martin's Press, 1992) ISBN 0-312-09771-9 page 227
  2. ^ Kaufman, Richard (May 2007), "Nothing is Impossible", Genii 70: 14–31, 40–57 
  3. ^ http://bradfordjewish.org.uk/david-berglas/
  4. ^ http://www.175heroes.org.uk/david_berglas.html
  5. ^ David Berglas Interview: International Man of Mystery
  6. ^ http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=000178
  7. ^ http://magicref.tripod.com/booksjr/racherbaumeratthetable.htm
  8. ^ http://magicians.co.uk/news/the-david-berglas-award-2013/
  9. ^ http://itricks.com/news/2008/11/uri-gellar-awarded-berglas-foundation-services-to-magic-award/
  10. ^ http://www.google.com/search?q=Berglas+Foundation
  11. ^ http://www.magicconventionguide.com/2009/david-copperfield-presentation-of-the-david-berglas-international-magic-award/
  12. ^ http://the-cardman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/2010-international-magic-convention.html
  13. ^ http://www.magicconventionguide.com/2011/derren-brown-awarded-david-berglas-international-magic-award/
  14. ^ http://forums.geniimagazine.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=40800&p=277172&hilit=jeff+mcbride+berglas+award#p277172
  15. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0074670/
  16. ^ "Our cover:David Berglas". The Ljnking Ring 57 (1): 1, 49–50. January 1977. 
  17. ^ "David Berglas". The Linking Ring 57 (1): 1. January 1977. 
  18. ^ http://www.themagiccircle.co.uk/about-the-club/awards/458-the-gold-medal
  19. ^ http://www.themagiccircle.co.uk/about-the-club/awards/453-maskelyne
  20. ^ http://www.themagiccircle.co.uk/about-the-club/awards/452-devant
  21. ^ http://www.geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Academy_of_Magical_Arts
  22. ^ http://www.psycrets.org.uk/html/Honorary_Awards_Members/honorary_awards_members.html
  23. ^ http://forums.ellusionist.com/showthread.php?92495-My-Experience-at-The-Session-Convention
  24. ^ https://www.facebook.com/edmagicfest/posts/10151658856084627