David Berglas

Legendary magician and former President of the Magic Circle from 1989 until 1998, David Berglas,
studied Textiles at Bradford Technical College in 1947.

David has enjoyed a truly magical international career. He has staged spectacular shows throughout the world and played at private functions for countless royals and VIPs. He was one of the first magicians on British TV in the 1950s and in 1985 had a Channel 4 series The Mind of David Berglas. David has been an advisor on numerous movies from Hammer Horror to James Bond films. David is revered by others in his field. Derren Brown described him as “a real hero of mine” and said he was “often looking for a ‘Berglasian’ touch or extra level to a routine.”

David’s family were textile manufacturers who fled Nazi persecution in Germany in 1933. His immediate family escaped, some literally with the Gestapo knocking at their door in Berlin, but others perished. In 1939 his fluent German led to his recruitment by US intelligence, and he trained at a secret location in Paris to decode messages. Discharged from the US Army in 1947, he came to Bradford Technical College to study textiles with a view to joining the family textile business, Berglas Brothers of Crown Point Mills in Wyke. This was a momentous decision as David’s introduction to magic came from his organisation of the Rag Day.

“I had a crazy idea for some of us to dress as Cowboys and Indians and then ride through into the centre of Bradford to collect some money from astonished onlookers. I knew where to get the horses but I needed some costumes. I found a little shop in Bradford called the Veroni House of Magic. When I returned the costumes my name was put on their mailing list and I received an invitation to go to a meeting of the Bradford Magical Society.

I would never have been a magician if not for Bradford Technical College. I always had unusual ideas but never dreamt I would become professional entertainer or have a wonderful career for 50 years. Everything happened by chance. My hiring those costumes and taking up magic as a hobby, the slump in textiles caused by the introduction of new fabrics like rayon meaning I didn’t go into the family firm - all coincidences coming together. In my first year as a professional magician I was very successful, with a series on the radio and then things just took off.”

David retired in 1994, apart from occasional prestigious occasions, such as the Millennium Eve when he played a private function at the Grosvenor Hotel with Shahid Malik. “I have only chosen to work about 6 times in the last 14 years, although I am always busy and I still go to a lot of showbusiness functions. So as well as working for and alongside all the old big names, I have also met all the latest stars.”

David has been delighted to be recognised as a Hero of Bradford College, lending items from his personal collection for the exhibition. The 3-D photos, viewed with special glasses, were taken by David’s friend, David Burder, who studied Engineering at Bradford College and is now MD of 3-D Images Ltd.

Photograph supplied by David Berglas