David Berglas, a British magician whose sleight-of-hand repertoire included a trick considered “the holy grail of card magic,” died Friday. He was 97.
Known as the “International Man of Mystery,” Berglas was the first magician to have his own program on British television, 1954′s “Meet David Berglas,” according to The Guardian.
Berglas revealed most of his secrets after his retirement, including the time he made a grand piano disappear in a London hotel banquet room filled with guests, The New York Times reported.
But the magician took his signature trick, called the Berglas Effect, to the grave, according to the BBC. Berglas could find a spectator’s chosen card at any number in a deck of cards, the news organization reported.
The trick is a version of Any Card at Any Number or ACAAN, according to the Times.
A spectator is asked to name any card in a deck, while another is asked to choose a number between one and 52. The cards are dealt face up, one by one. At the designated number, the card selected by the first person was revealed.
“It’s not a secret I can give to anyone because it’s not a secret as such,” Berglas told the Times in a 2021 interview. “It’s like asking a musician who can improvise to teach you his improvisation, which of course he can’t.”
Berglas was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Duke of Cambridge in 2018, The Guardian reported.
“I am delighted to accept this honor but even more pleased that the art of magic has at last been recognized,” Berglas said at the time. “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 was president of The Magic Circle from 1989 to 1998 and worked to admit women into the illusionist society in 1991, according to The Guardian.
Berglas was born to Jewish-German parents who fled Germany after the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, the BBC reported.
After World War II, he was involved with U.S. military intelligence, according to the news organization.
Berglas’ son, Marvin Berglas, was elected president of The Magic Circle in September, The Guardian reported.
“My father was a giant in the magic fraternity, known for his originality, creativity and showmanship,” Marvin Berglas said in a statement. “His mysteries have not only baffled audiences but also his peers. However, to us, his family, he will always be best remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather.”
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