'Magnificent' Jewish magician David Berglas dies aged 97

Berglas, a German-Jewish refugee, was president of the Magic Circle between 1989 and 1998


LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: David Berglas with his MBE for services to Magic and Psychology after an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 2, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The pioneering Jewish magician David Berglas has died aged 97.

Berglas, a German-Jewish refugee, was president of The Magic Circle between 1989 and 1998 and is perhaps best known for inventing the world-renowned card trick described as “The Berglas Effect”.

The Magic Circle, the UK’s oldest magic society, confirmed that Berglas died in London on Friday night.

The so-called “International man of mystery” was the first magician to have his own TV series in the UK, Meet David Berglas, which was broadcast in 1954. He also hosted major television series in Sweden, Germany, Norway and Holland, where in 1967 he was the first foreign celebrity to be voted television personality of the year.

When his son Marvin was this year elected president of the Magic Circle - the highest accolade in magic - he and David became the first father-and-son duo to have held the post, making them magic’s leading dynasty.

The illusionist Derren Brown described the elder Berglas as “one of our greatest living magical performers”  when he was awarded an MBE for services to magic and psychology in 2018. British magician Dynamo has hailed him as “the master”.

As well as entertaining celebrities including Winston Churchill, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Walt Disney and numerous members of the British Royal Family, the influential magician interviewed guests on his Channel 4 series The Mind of David Berglas. His Eighties show featured the likes of Omar Sharif, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland and Peter Cook.

Paying tribute to his father on Friday, Marvin said: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the sad passing this evening of my Dad - David Berglas aged 97.

"To many he was one of the most influential magicians of the 21st century.

"However, to us - his family - he will best be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather.”

Magic Circle member Andrew Keates said on X/Twitter: “Magic and mentalism has lost one of its finest minds today. Thank you David Berglas for a lifetime of inspiration and wonder.

"My thoughts are with his family and son [Marvin], my friend and resident of the Magic Circle.

Restaurant critic Jay Rayner posted: "Farewell to the magnificent David Berglas, creator of so much superb stage magic. My personal favourite: getting two nurses to hold his wrists while he stopped his pulse."

Born in 1926, Berglas was raised in Berlin by Jewish parents. When he was seven, his family left Germany for the Netherlands and returned only to flee again in 1938 when the Nazis came knocking at their door. The family settled in England and Berglas attended a boarding school in Surrey for four years.

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