David Berglas, internationally renowned magician and longtime supporter of the College of Magic, Cape Town’s only magical arts organisation, has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours List for services to Magic and Psychology.
It is believed that this is the first time the honour has been presented to anyone for their contribution to the art of magic.Berglas, 92, said:
“I am delighted to accept this honour but even more pleased that the art of magic has at last been recognised. I have spent over 60 years entertaining people in person, on radio and television -“reading their minds” - but I certainly didn’t see this one coming.”
Berglas has been an inspiration to magicians worldwide. On hearing of the award Derren Brown said: “This honour recognises one of our greatest living magical performers. Generations of magicians owe him a debt of gratitude. Each of my shows is indebted to his artistry and astonishing body of work. I thank him for his constant inspiration.”
The Magic Circle president Scott Penrose said: “I am sure our members both in the UK and around the world will join me in congratulating David Berglas’ on receiving this award which recognises his immense contribution to magic. As our former president he was deeply involved in the successful development of our permanent HQ in London. His influence on magic and magicians has been profound for over 60 years and many magicians owe him a real debt of gratitude.”
The College of Magic, a South African non-profit organisation and the only of its kind in the world, is thrilled for Berglas:
“David Berglas has played a crucial role in developing and promoting the College of Magic. His generous philanthropic support has seen the creation of many training facilities benefitting the thousands of students and tens of thousands of school learners who have attended the College of Magic educational programmes over the past 39 years. His inspiration, encouragement and recognition have played a pivotal role in building our organisation internationally and from within, strengthening our important transformative role among the youth of South Africa,” said David Gore, director of the College of Magic.
Berglas’ extraordinary career started in the 50s. Six weeks at the Windmill Theatre in London in 1953 was followed by a whirlwind tour of variety theatres where he often topped the bill.
He became a household name with his regular performances on radio, conducting “Nationwide Psychological Experiments” involving millions of listeners. He received the largest collection of fan mail ever for a BBC radio series. In the 70s he hosted a late-night phone-in programme on LBC.
He had his own BBC television show “Meet David Berglas” in 1954 which had an audience of over 19 million and then hosted the first ever commercial TV series in 1955. In the 80s his series “The Mind of David Berglas” on Channel 4 he entertained celebrity guests such as Omar Sharif, Britt Ekland and Christopher Lee.
Dubbed the “International Man of Mystery” Berglas was renowned for creating big stunts - among them, driving a car blindfold around central London, hurtling blindfold down the Cresta Run, stopping the traffic - and people - in Piccadilly Circus. He also confounded the magical profession with his pulse stopping routine and with his ability to persuade strangers to levitate a heavy table.
His version of the Any Card at Any Number routine has been known for many years as the Berglas Effect and magicians consider this the holy grail of card magic.He has also acted as a creative consultant on many major films, most notably five Bond movies. Berglas has entertained most members of the Royal Family and a host of celebrities including Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson . At one time he was the opening act for the Rolling Stones.
In the magic world Berglas has received most major international honours. He was President of The Magic Circle, the world’s premier magic society, from 1989-1998 and helped revitalise the society. During his tenure The Magic Circle admitted women as members, established the Young Magician’s Club and acquired and refurbished the old warehouse in Euston that became their first permanent HQ.
He has helped raise huge amounts for charity and was voted “King Rat” of the Grand Order of Water Rats, the leading show business charity.For further information about David Berglas, please contact: Charlie Burgess 07941 371440.
For more information about the College of Magic, please visit www.collegeofmagic.com or call +27(0)21 683 5480.