It is with a heavy heart that The Magic Circle announced the tragic passing of magic legend David Berglas on November 3rd at the age of 97. His name, known to many in the community as either a teacher, an influence, or a friend, will live on through generations of magicians to come.
For those who are unacquainted with David’s work, let’s take a look back at his journey in magic. While David was studying psychotherapy and medical hypnosis, he came across Ken Brooke, who was his gateway into the magic community. Capitalizing on his already-learned ability to command a stage, David toured a variety of prestigious nightclubs and theaters all across Britain.
During this time period, he earned the name the “International Man of Mystery”, which catapulted him into fame. Meet David Berglas premiered in 1954 and was the first-ever magic program on British television. His television career lasted far after his first show spanning to The Mind of David Berglas and a variety of publicity stunts which included him driving a car around London blindfolded.
David was president of The Magic Circle from 1989 to 1998, and during his tenure, they elected to start admitting women into their society. Currently, his son Marvin Berglas serves as the Circle’s current president. The first father-son duo to have both been Magic Circle president.
There are a variety of awards that are being given out today under Berglas’s name. His non-profit, the Foundation for Promoting the Art of Magic, has given out “The David Berglas International Magic Award” to some of the biggest names in our field, like David Copperfield, Juan Tamariz, and Derren Brown. In 2014 Berglas received the award himself after being told the award was going to Dynamo, but an onstage sleight-of-hand switching of the engraved plaque proved otherwise.
David’s performance style stuck out because of its simplicity. At times, magicians use the guise of simplicity to cover impressive technical feats that have been practiced in the mirror for hours. David’s magic was, on the surface, straightforward, and it’s hard to pinpoint any sleights or moves David did because of how much the magic was out of his hands. Seemingly the magic was always as simple as it appeared, but it never could have been because of how impossible each effect was.
For the rest of time, in the same breath as David’s name is mentioned, “The Berglas Effect” will always come up as a topic of conversation. This is the well-known Any Card at Any Number plot, but in David’s version, the cards never touch his hands at any time during the performance. The thought-of-card is simply at the thought-of-number.
We stand on the shoulders of giants, and it’s always important to remember who paved the way for the rest of us. With all the grief and sadness that comes with loss, it’s important to celebrate one’s life. David Berglas will be deeply missed but will live on in the performances of others worldwide. The best way you to honour magicians before you is to keep doing great magic at the highest level; it doesn’t have to be knuckle-breaking sleights; it just has to induce wonder.