David Berglas was educated in several different European countries. He escaped to Britain from Nazi Germany, aged 11. 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 Service 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.
He first became 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. 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. This was followed by an extensive tour of all the leading variety theatres and night clubs.
He devised numerous unique and entertaining sales presentations and product launches for household name brands. His specialised seminars included personal development, motivation, and memory systems.
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." The effect was first named "The Berglas Effect" by Jon Racherbaumer in his 1984 book At The Table.
The British Magical Society is the oldest magic club in the UK. It presents 'The David Berglas Trophy' annually (since 1988) to leading British magicians.
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 International Magic Convention in London.
It was first awarded to the organisers of the convention, The MacMillan family, then in 2008 to Uri Geller (Israel), in 2009 to David Copperfield (USA), in 2010 to Juan Tamariz (Spain), in 2011 to Derren Brown (UK) in 2012 to Jeff McBride (USA), and in 2013 Lu Chen (Taiwan) was the recipient.
In 2014 the award was given to Berglas himself. The Award Committee had led Berglas to believe that the award was being presented to Dynamo. Dynamo presented the award to him but used
sleight-of hand to change the engraved plaque on the award to Berglas' name.
Personal Message from David
After a life-time of travelling the world, entertaining and mystifying millions of people, it’s a pleasure to share some of my extraordinary encounters and adventures with you.
It is really a privilege to be in this strange business of being a performer and lecturer, as it enables you to see places and meet characters that it would normally be impossible to experience. (Did I say nothing is impossible ?).
The range is astounding – from street parties and Northern Working Men’s Clubs to Mansions and Palaces. From a dingy nightclub in Nairobi to a glittering cabaret spot in Las Vegas.
On some of the world’s largest and luxurious Cruise liners you get to meet and often befriend a variety of people that have surprising and unexpected stories.
Also my showbusiness friends range from some of the most talented variety acts to big stars that are household names.
But the most rewarding part is coming home to my family after an exhausting, but exhilarating tour.
My lovely wife, Ruth (we’ve been married for 64 years as I write) has been looking after me all this time – making sure that I look my best every time I appear in public. When we met in 1953 she was an actress, appearing on stage in a number of television series, one with Boris Karloff and in films, including “The King in New York”, written, produced and starring the one and only Charlie Chaplin. She is very creative, designing and making intricate head decorations, is a passionate gardener and a talented painter.
We were blessed to have three happy, healthy and loving children. Throughout their lives they were all really close and shared many positive attributes from Ruth and I, such as being sporty, passionate, positive, creative, fun-loving and always remaining family orientated. They all worked hard but played harder and grew up to be loving parents themselves, each with two kids of their own – our 6 amazing grandchildren – Max, Lucy, Matt, Jack, Lauren and Richie.
Our oldest son, Peter was an all-rounder – a really talented sportsman – a respected leader in business with great motivational, admin and organisational skills. He sadly passed away, far too young aged 55, from a brain tumour in 2013 but left his unmistaken imprint on all who knew him.
His brother Marvin did eventually end up in the world of magic, an accomplished magician himself, however, not wishing to be drawn into direct comparison with his father’s unique style, he opted for a different path. In 1987 he created arguably the best known brand in magic – Marvin’s Magic – which has since gone from strength to strength and has been responsible for encouraging literally millions of young magicians all around the world.
Peter and Marvin were only a year apart and grew up like twins and best friends. They were always proud and protective of their little sister Irena, who being about 10 years younger, has always remained the loveable baby sister. She is both artistic and theatrical and is always ready to help anyone in need, whoever they might be.
I am very lucky that in this precarious and uncertain profession my family has always remained close and supportive, which has enabled me to have such a long and rewarding career, probably also helped by my motto, which has always been:
“Nothing is Impossible” – not only in the world of magic but in everyday life.