British magician David Berglas dies aged 97

Investitures at Buckingham Palace Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

David Berglas, one of the most influential magicians and mentalists of the 20th century, has died aged 97.

The Magic Circle, touted as the most famous magic society in the world, confirmed Berglas died in London on Friday night.

Also known as the International Man of Mystery, he was the first ever magician to have his own programme on British television, Meet David Berglas, in 1954.

In the 1980s he had a second television series, called The Mind of David Berglas, where he entertained a raft of celebrities, including Omar Sharif, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland.

Berglas was also known as the International Man of Mystery Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Throughout the decades, he appeared frequently on British TV and radio and became a household name for his incredible stunts, one of which included driving a car around London while blindfolded.

Berglas was renowned in magic circles for a trick called the Berglas Effect, with which he could find a spectator’s chosen card at any number in a deck of cards.

It is regarded as the holy grail of magic effects, the secret of which he took to the grave.

Berglas was awarded an MBE by the Prince of Wales in 2018 for his services to magic and psychology.

He said upon receiving his award: “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 revitalised The Magic Circle society during his tenure as president from 1989-1998.

It was under his guiding hand that The Magic Circle elected to admit women to the illusionist society in 1991.

His son Marvin Berglas, elected president of The Magic Circle in September this year, said: “My father was a giant in the magic fraternity, known for his originality, creativity and showmanship.

“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.”

Illusionist Derren Brown hailed Berglas as “one of our greatest living magical performers” when Berglas was awarded his MBE.

“Generations of magicians owe him a debt of gratitude,” Brown said.

“Each of my shows is indebted to his artistry and astonishing body of work. I thank him for his constant inspiration.”