Web Page No 2172
29th June 2015
Top Picture: David Burglas
Middle Picture: Robert Harbin
Bottom Picture: Robert Harbin with the Zig Zag Woman
Burglas and Harbin
David Berglas was born July 30, 1926 in Europe. He escaped, with his family, from Nazi Germany and fled to Britain aged 11. At 16 he had his mind set to become a Spitfire pilot, lied about his age and managed to join the RAF. However, his true age was discovered and was not allowed to complete his training. Still adamant 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. He explained that he was only 19 but could meet all the other qualifications. And was accepted a unit of the Intelligence Corps of the American Army, serving an adventure filled 18 months at the end of WWII.
On returning to England he attended Bradford Technical College to study Textiles with a view of joining his family business. He first got interested in magic in 1947, through a chance meeting with magic dealer Ken Brooke. Magic became an all-absorbing hobby for about 5 years, during which time he worked in 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.
He first became a household name in Britain through his regular performances on BBC radio, an unusual role for a magician. He conducted what he called "Nationwide Psychological Experiments", involving millions of listeners in their homes. This part of the show required listeners to write in to confirm their reaction. To this day the BBC's archives have recorded this as being the largest collection of fan mail ever received. During the show's run it was not unusual for David to receive 3000 - 4000 postcards or letters per week.
He was one of the first magicians to appear on British television with his own show "Meet David Berglas" in 1954. Numerous other television series followed and were highly acclaimed in Holland, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Commercial television started in the UK in September 1955 and the first ever series was presented by David Berglas on Associated Rediffusion called "Focus on Hocus."
In the 1970s he presented a one hour television special from Las Vegas and in the UK he caused a sensation with his Channel 4 series "The Mind of David Berglas," (1985/86) where he interviewed and entertained celebrity guests including Omar Sharif, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Peter Cook and Max Bygraves.
He has drawn attention through a long career with his numerous publicity stunts and has performed for many celebrities, including Winston Churchill, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Michael Jackson, the Sultan of Brunei and most of the British Royal Family.
He is a past president of the "British Ring" of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (I.B.M.). He was elected "King Rat" of the Grand Order Of Water Rats and was President of The Magic Circle for 9 years (1989 - 1998).
In the 1950's, he created what is now referred to as the "Holy Grail" of card magic, known as "The Berglas Effect," also known as ACAAN (Any Card At Any Number).
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 prestigious International Magic Convention in London. It was first awarded to the organisers of the convention, The MacMillan family, then in 2008 to Uri Gellar, in 2009 to David Copperfield, in 2010 to Juan Tamariz and in 2011 to Derren Brown.
He has written books on magic and a substantial number of articles and lecture notes for the magical fraternity, including The David Berglas File No.1 (1976) and the much sought-after tome, now out of print, The Mind and Magic of David Berglas This has become a collector's item and is selling for several times its original price.
David Berglas is the father of Marvin Berglas of Marvin's Magic, the world's largest supplier of professional magic sets. He is also uncle of South African artist Zapiro.
Robert Harbin (born Ned Williams was born on the14th February 1908 in Balfour, South Africa and died on 12th January 1978 in Westminster and apart from being a British magician and was a noted author. He was also the inventor of a number of classic illusions, including the Zig Zag Girl and an authority on origami.
As a young man Ned Williams first got interested in magic after an unknown ex-serviceman appeared at his school with a magic show later described as "rather poor". This fired him and at the age of 20 he went to London and began by working in the magic department of Gamages toy shop. He began performing in various Music Halls under the title "Ned Williams, the Boy Magician from South Africa". By 1932 he was appearing in the famous Maskelyne's Mysteries magic show in various London theatres. He was the first British illusionist to move from stage performing to television, appearing in the BBC TV show Variety in 1937 and numerous times after the war when the BBC resumed broadcasting. He developed a number of new tricks, including the Neon Light and the now ubiquitous Zig Zag Girl. His lesser known inventions included the Aztec Lady, The Blades of Opah, and Aunt Matilda's Wardrobe.
Much of his inventive genius was put into writing and he is known as one of the most prodigious authors on the subject of magical effects. However, although brilliantly creative in the field of magic he was not a particularly good writer and many of his titles were ghost written for him.
In 1953, Harbin and a friend discovered a common interest in the Japanese art of paper-folding and he later wrote many books on the subject, beginning with Paper Magic (illustrated by the young art student, the Australian Rolf Harris in 1965 and Robert Harbin was the first President of the British Origami Society. He was the first Westerner to use the word origami for this art-form. He also presented a series of origami programmes for ITV in its "Look-In" magazines for children in the 1970s.
He died in the late 1970’s and his grave is at Golders Green Crematorium in London.
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Had a bit of fun with the 11+ and didn’t fare too badly, unlike my efforts almost 60 years ago, but can anyone tell me the logic in the odd man out section:
Policeman, Soldier, Sailor, Airman
Three are military services one is civilian
Three are armed services one is unarmed
So what makes a Sailor different from the other three?
News and Views:
On this day 29th June 1960-1965
On 29/06/1960 the number one single was Three Steps to Heaven - Eddie Cochran and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/06/1961 the number one single was Surrender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/06/1962 the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/06/1963 the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/06/1964 the number one single was It's Over - Roy Orbison and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/06/1965 the number one single was I'm Alive - Hollies and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions