Final Thoughts by David Berglas
When discussing this book with Jim Steinmeyer in his home in Bi rbank, California, I asked him what he thought I should put into my "Final Thoughts." Interestingly, he pointed out that this would be the first time the reader would hear from me personally. I had not thought of this because 1 have been thoroughly involved in the preparation of the book with David Britland, referencing my diaries, notes, clippings, videos and photographs.
It has been a long and time-consuming task. The manuscript has taken well over two years to produce. David and 1 met once a week for a six-hour session of questions, answers and discussions. Videotapes of my shows were viewed, scrapbooks examined and props long since forgotten were brought down from the attic (I rarely throw anything away and even surprised myself when 1 discovered I still had the duplicate chequebook from the Sweetings stunt!) David Britland has been extremely patient and through his enthusiasm, clever questioning and magical knowledge has extracted far more from me than I had ever intended to reveal when we started the project.
Now David has asked me to answer a few questions and give some insight into the thinking behind my many years of magic.
Mystery and Imagination
After a long career as the International Man of Mystery, I have often been asked to explain the philosophies behind my "impossible" stunts and routines. Morbidly, many have asked me to make sure to "pass on" some of the secrets before 1 pass on! If not in book form, they said, then at least divulge your methods to your children: Peter, Marvin and Irena.
If there is a single secret, then it can be simply put. Think big, create, plan, rethink (even bigger) then prepare, practise and perform. In my own case I rehearse mentally. Visualising the performance over and over again until it is firmly established in my mind. 1 have even envisaged snags in the routines and because of that I've been able to avoid the pitfalls if they should occur during a performance. Sometimes I had to change direction in order to bring the routine to a successful conclusion. When I perform an effect, even if it is for the first time, I have already "seen" myself perform it in my mind so many times that it has become familiar.
If I can modestly take any credit for the routines themselves, it is that 1 tend to think
The many faces of David Berglas!
creatively, have a good imagination, a logical mind, and am very motivated to achieve my goal. 1 am also extremely patient, make numerous notes and have tried to have a thorough knowledge of magic. I keep up to date with the latest magical developments but am not afraid to use old methods if they will serve as well or better. One of my proven techniques is to combine two, three or even four well-known tricks into one mystifying and entertaining routine. The Coloured Discs is just such an example, beginning as it did as a pocket trick and developing into a colourful stage routine.
In terms of my style, I was fortunate in being brought up within a sophisticated cosmopolitan family. This undoubtedly had an effect on my image as a performer. When I walked on stage people believ ed what I told them although I had never set out to be some commanding figure. I was just a young man in a dark suit, talking to the audience, but there was something believable about me and I didntt have to convince people that everything was genuine. If I had volunteers, I didn't have to belabour the point that they were strangers to me. On my television shows I never had to convince the viewers that there were no camera tricks involved. I looked and acted as if I could do the impossible and somehow fulfilled the audience's own expectations of my character. It wasn't something I arrived at by design. It was just the way the audience perceived me.
Style and Image
The mistake many magicians make is that they try to emulate the image of someone 544 The Mind & Magic of David Berglas who is already successful. They want to be the next David Copperfield or Lance Burton and regardless of their own personal style they try to copy others. I don't believe that you need to be a specific type to be, for instance, a mentalist. What is important is that the person presenting the show (you) has taken a look in the mirror and tried to appreciate how the audience will perceive your persona. Having done that and come to some conclusion about your own image, you should strive to put that character into the role of mentalist. manipulator, illusionist or whatever type of magic it is you wish to perform.
For example, let's assume that I tell the audience that, last week, I discovered that my plumber, Joe, could read minds. I'm amazed. So amazed I've brought him along tonight. "Joe. come up on the stage and show the people what you can do." And Joe comes up and he does indeed look like he could be my plumber. But he can also read minds. He's very good at it too. Joe doesn't have a beard, a cloak, piercing eyes or any of the other attributes you might associate with a mysterious mindreader. He looks just like a plumber and as a mindreading plumber his act can enthral. 1 don't believe you need to be a specific image to be a serious mentalist or any other type of magician. Regardless of what you look like you can become the top of your profession. But your image on stage has to be compatible with the real you. In other words, be sincere, be natural and above all be yourself.
I have always tried to communicate to the audience the feeling that they can trust me. This is bizarre because as a magician my job is to deceive them. Nevertheless 1 want them to know that I will not overstep any boundaries of good taste. I will not embarrass them in anyway or attempt to make them look foolish. We work together to create the impossibilities that happen on stage. My volunteers are an integral part of my act and I need to create mutual respect.
The Impossible or Too Impossible
Mv job as a magician is to do the impossible. In my case it is about persuading the audience that I have developed certain skills that enable me to do incredible things, skills that they do not possess. I don't always define what those skills are though they seem, as far as the audience is concerned, to be in the area of memory, manipulation and psychology. I do not claim to have psychic powers of any kind even though the feats are often in that realm and the audience invariably make claims on my behalf.
When I first started in show business I was encouraged by managements and agents to claim that what I did was genuine. It was better for business. They were probably right from a commercial point of view but 1 chose to ignore them and therefore avoid the ethical trap into which many mentalists fall. A convincing performance of mentalism can encourage the belief that the performer is psychic, audiences have a natural predilection towards such things. But I did not want people coming up to me after the show and asking me to use my "powers" to solve their personal problems. I've never regretted my decision.
That's not to say I want the mystery to end the moment 1 leave the stage. Convincing your audience that you are psychic and leaving them baffled are two entirely different things. In fact it seems to me that there is not enough mystery in magic. Most magicians these days have a very light-hearted presentation, telling a joke or giving the trick a storyline. It works well as entertainment but. in my opinion, the audience don't credit the performer with any magical skills. When people walk away from my shows I want them to be thoroughly mystified.
Some magicians have argued that an effect can be too perfect. That the audience requires some vague possibility of a solution, as if they were some kind of intellectual pressure cooker that has to let off steam before it explodes. I do not agree. Your job as a magician is to do the impossible and not leave the audience with any explanation at all. If they conclude that the vanished object went up your sleeve, or you must have used a mirror, or suggest any solution that indeed you could have used, well. I think you have performed the trick badly. 1 can't relate to the theory that a trick can be too impossible. It is very important that you persuade your audience that the feat could only have been achieved by one person, you, the magician. If you don't achieve that line of thought, that the effect is totally impossible, you have not done the job properly.
I've heard that some magicians worry about the bounds of credibility and some have said to me. "That was too impossible." But no audience has ever voiced that opinion. That's what magic is, doing the impossible. If I tcleport an object across a tabic, between, say. one matchbox and another, that seems to be an acceptable effect to both audiences and magicians. But doing the same trick between adjacent rooms or even between two studios at either end of the country, well, some magicians say that is taking the effect beyond the credibility of the audience. Again, I don't agree. The very idea of teleporting an object from one location to another is impossible. The scale on which the teleportation is accomplished doesn't make the effect any more impossible; it simply alters the size of the stage upon which the drama can be played. I've described one or two such effects in this book. Audiences enjoyed them and in some cases, talked about the occasion for many years.
Reaching the Audience
The audience is the ultimate arbiter of your success as an entertainer. When an artiste comes offstage and complains about a "bad audience" I wonder what they mean. Audiences do differ and they can be tough but it is the duty of the entertainer to make them good. I have no time for people who say they didn't go well because of a lousy audience. He or she should work on the act more, improving their personality, projection and possibly the material they are using. The artiste is paid to entertain the audience. The audience is not paid to laugh and clap and enjoy themselves. You cannot blame the audience for being bad.
Of course, who the audience is will have a bearing on your performance. A nightclub audience comes to eat and drink and enjoy the company of their friends. There may be a cabaret but that was not uppermost in their thoughts when they decided to visit the club. You have to convince these people that what you are doing is worth watching. The same is true of close-up magic. When you approach a table you are interrupting a social gathering. You can't command an audience to stop their talking and drinking in order to watch you unless you have something worth watching and you make the request in an acceptable manner. On the other hand if I am doing a one-man show then I have the comfort of knowing that they came specifically to see me. When I walk on stage I am assured of a warm reception. Now it is up to me to justify their applause.
It is disappointing to realise that magic is the only performance art chat requires no training. Tricks are invented, props constructed and patter written by someone entirely different from the man who stands on stage billed as a magician. An act can literally be bought. It is also the only art form in which an amateur can go into a professional's dressing room and tell him where he went wrong and how he should perform in future. Imagine going into Pavarotti's dressing room and telling him, "I sing a bit in the bath and 1 think you should have warbled in a different key" It's ludicrous but it happens in magic. If a professional is no good, he won't get the next booking. I've always said that I can sell any artiste to appear at the London Palladium once. If he doesn't live up to the sales pitch, not only has he lost bookings for the future but I've lost my credibility to the people I've sold him to. Repeat bookings are only possible if the audience likes the performer.
So please remember that your success will not depend solely on the cleverness of your material. David Devant was a marvellous creator of magic but his reputation as a performer owed as much to his personal charm. Any magician who has made a mark in show business has done so because of their personality and presentation.
The Television Medium
I have performed in just about every kind of environment but, in my opinion, television is the very best medium for magic. You can have a big illusion show on screen or a close-up trick magnified and watched by an audience of many millions. When I began there was just one channel and an appearance on television guaranteed a large audience. My early posters always mentioned my appearances on radio and television and as anything seen on television was deemed to have a certain quality, they attracted audiences. As a consequence I got bigger and better billing and therefore higher fees. When people book you through an agent and the agent reels off half a dozen names, it is the one who is recognised that gets the booking. Television provides that recognition factor. The more you are in demand the more money the agent will ask for you. And if you are unique in your field it is possible to earn very high fees indeed.
Today with the proliferation of television channels, it is much more difficult to gain the
With David Copperfield, who was taught David's Floating Table routine for television.
With David Blaine.
same recognition so quickly but it can be done. Max Maven. by adopting a specific, easily recognisable character, has established himself and made an important impact, even on Japanese television. A good example is David Blaine, whose first television special made him a cult figure. Close-up magic was well known to magicians but this was the first time that the public was able to identify it with an intriguing and likable personality, a modern man of mystery, wandering the streets dispensing miracles. Before David Blaine, street magicians and close-up workers were largely anonymous figures who, having performed their routines, moved on. Blaine was different. He was a mysterious, believable personality. And that is what the audience wants. Again, more recently a young psychological magician, Derren Brown, has made a great impact on television, especially with the younger crowd. His commanding presentations and his up-to-date patter fits in with today's trends.
T here has been a lot of magic on television in recent years and the growing complaint, again from magicians, that many performers have been able to work their magic only because of the help they receive from the production team. As I've already said in this book, I spent most of my television days keeping the tricks of the trade to myself. However, some performers work closely with the producers of the show, using television as a tool with which to enhance their magic. This leads others to believe that they could do just as well, conspiring with the producers to create effects on television that may not be possible in reality. The truth is that they would not get that chance. An unknown performer suggesting such a scheme would be quickly shown the door. If a production throws its weight behind a performer it is because they can bank on his reputation. They are only interested in delivering a good television 548 The Mind & Magic of David Berglas
programme to the audience and melding their skills with that of a great performer can only produce dividends. If the viewers are baffled and entertained, the show has been a success.
Perhaps you wonder if it's difficult to get on television now. I believe that the right personality will always get on television. There is a void to be filled and it is perhaps a poor reflection on magic that it cannot be filled easily. The right person presenting magic in the right way will become a star tomorrow.
Creating Mysteries Off the Stage
1 said earlier that I like the mystery to remain even when I am not on stage and I have found that magic performed in the right place at the right moment not only has a huge impact on the audience but it helps create a reputation. I used to give shows at the Rowntree Mackintosh confectionary production plant in York. They have a well-equipped theatre where they put on shows for their staff. During one visit I was given a tour of the factory late at night. It was fascinating to see the clever machinery used to make such popular products as Smarties and KitKats. In its own way it was magical, a behind the scenes look at the ingenious ways in which chocolates, biscuits and candies were made, the finished products leaving no clue as to the method of their manufacture.
I was particularly surprised by the way in which Polo Mints (the mint with the hole, called Life Savers in the I S) were created. I had presumed they were stamped out from some sticky minty dough. I was wrong. Instead they are moulded out of compressed powder at an astonishing rate. I watched the finished hoops of mint cascading down a chute into a huge container, the air in the room thick with an overpowering peppermint scented dust. An elderly employee supervised the production, and kept an observant eye on the river of mints pouring down the chute, looking for flaws. I asked him if any of the mints ever came out linked. He appeared baffled at the suggestion. "I mean, do they ever come out linked together?"I said. He assured me that in all the years he had worked there they never had. "Because I think I saw some like that," I told him, pointing into the mint filled metal tub between us.
I reached under the chute and caught a handful of mints and then sieved them through my fingers until only two remained. The supervisor's eyes widened. There, in the middle of my palm, were two Polo Mints linked together. It was impossible and I'm sure he couldn't believe his own eves. I held them a little longer so that he could get a good look and then casually tossed them into the container. He was still checking the mints when I left.
I had, of course, switched in a set of linked Polo Mints and then exchanged them again before throwing them back. It was a trick I learned from Abracadabra magazine, and became a favourite close-up item of mine and I always carried a set of prepared mints around with me. But at the Rowntree Mackintosh factory it proved to be the perfect trick in the perfect setting. It generated a lot of talk and impressed my clients.
I'm fond of such "impromptu" stunts and would advocate them for anyone who wants to cultivate mystery. Its being able to do the right tricks at the most unexpected moments or contriving those moments to arise when you are best prepared. You may only ever perform the trick once, for a group or just a single person but you will be surprised by the interest it creates.
Another favourite reputation-maker of mine occurred in Iceland. I was working cruise ships and sometimes volunteered to take parties of passengers to the geysers where, if they were lucky, they would see huge spouts of hot water shoot into the air. Unfortunately you could wait quite a long time for this to happen. Generally the water just bubbled and steamed and was never as impressive as you'd hoped. That's when I explained that I could "sense" which blowhole was about to spout. The passengers stood back as I knelt down and slowly-passed my hand above the holes in the ground as if somehow detecting what was about to happen. As you can imagine, I built the moment for all it was worth. I would hold my hand over one particular hole and tell everyone that it was about to blow. Then I stepped back and asked them all to watch. They did, fixing their gaze on the hole in the ground and almost willing it to happen. Sure enough the geyser spouted throwing a magnificent jet of water high into the air as they laughed and cheered.
It was a trick I had learned on a previous trip from a local taxi driver. Just before we set off I would phone him and he drove ahead of us to the destination with a large box of washing powder, which he then poured into a nominated blowhole. That was the hole I pointed to, knowing that the soap bubbles would build up within about five or ten minutes and the resulting pressure would cause the geyser to spout. It resulted in much talk back at the ship of the "you should have been there" variety and my standing as a performer was once again en
With Professor Christaan Barnard.
hanced. I've always indulged in these off-stage stunts and would recommend this approach to anyone who wants to be thought of as something more than an act, to build a reputation as a man of mystery around whom the impossible is commonplace.
Opportunities and Personalities
Magic has given me the opportunity to travel to interesting places and encounter many people you would not otherwise get a chance to meet. People like Prof. Christaan Barnard who pioneered the world's first heart transplant in 1967. He and I were chatting in a sauna when he told me how bad a sauna was for your heart! Others who come to mind are the astronomer Carl Sagan with whom I had some deep and interesting conversations. His son, who was sixteen years old at the time was interested in magic and I sent him one of Marvin's Magic boxes. On various occasions I entertained the multi-millionaire Paul Getty and his guests, in his sumptuous home Sutton Place. It was interesting to see that this man, who has given countless millions to museums and art galleries, had a pay phone in his hall. As a complete contrast I was chosen to do the first half of a Rolling Stones concert—an unforgettable experience! The Greek shipping magnate Onassis gave some unbelievable ship launching parties for his giant oil tankers. 1 was fortunate to be the entertainer on some of these occasions and the press was interested to know what it was like to pick the pockets of these wealthy and influential guests. It was also a delight to meet contrasting musicians such as violin vir-
David and Ruth with Princess Diana, 1987.
tuoso Yehudi Menuhin and the highly acclaimed jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose incredible technique was even more impressive when you realised that three of his fingers were paralysed. I could make a list that would go on and on of all the world leaders, royalty, politicians, film stars and other famous and infamous characters that came my way. It was a pleasure to meet them all, talk to them on a one-to-one basis and gain some kind of insight into their lives. If it hadn't been for magic, perhaps I would never have travelled so extensively or met the people I did. many of whom became friends.
I look back on these experiences and hope they'll prove an inspiration for you. A clever performer who offers mysteries can appeal to a wide range of audiences and interests.
Decision to Retire
Inevitably, people have asked why I chose to retire when I did. Well, it was no accident. It was planned in 1983. I told my family and friends that in exactly ten years time I would give up my professional career. No one believed me. Showbiz people don't retire. They carry on into their dotage, regardless. Not me.
During my years working Music Hall, Variety and Nightclubs I often saw acts that had reached their sell-by date and indeed passed them with no sign of calling it a day. The jugglers could still juggle, the singers still sing and the magicians still magish! But as they grew older, the edge had gone.
Some things you can't control and age is one of them. In my particular case, as a purveyor of the impossible, I relied on perfect eyesight, which I was lucky to have. Better hearing than most also had its advantages, as did good intuition and the ability to sense the feelings and mood of my volunteers and audiences. I could steal a glance at the page of a book held quite a few feet away and memorise a few lines, enough to work miracles later. Or overhear some conversation and put the material to good use.
For my kind of work you need good senses and I knew that eventually they would dull with time. 1 was determined that it wouldn't happen when I was working. I would stop long before the sell-by date loomed on the horizon.
When 1 made my decision, ten years seemed so far away. But as the final year approached, no matter how many times 1 said it. no one really believed I would stop performing. Nineteen ninety-three was to be my final year as a professional entertainer. At the end of December 1 had two shows left to do and Ruth accompanied me. The first was at the Berkeley Hotel near London's Hyde Park. It was a prestigious affair and I mentioned to the host that it would be my penultimate show after forty-five years. He congratulated me on a long career and. to my amazement, immediately announced to everyone that I was about to retire and how privileged they felt to have me there. The applause when I walked on to do my act was deafening.
The one-and-a-half hour show went extremely well and everyone came up to wish me luck afterwards. We were invited to a private party upstairs where Ruth and I were toasted with champagne, and made to feel special in every way. It was the highlight of a wonderful year. On the way home I said to Ruth that I couldn't top that. If ever I wanted to finish on a high note, then that was what I had just achieved. I cancelled the last show, passing it on to a
colleague. For me, the party at the Berkeley Hotel was the last official show of my professional career.
I confess that I have cheated a few times since. No more than four or five times, when I have been persuaded to do a show here and there. One was on the eve of the Millennium (which entertainer could resist?) but on the whole I have kept to my plan and given up not only performing but also lecturing, seminars and being a technical consultant. The enquiries still come in and I can't say that I'm not flattered and tempted but I had made my decision for very good reasons.
My "retirement" has had its benefits. It has given me the opportunity to do many other things and my diary is as full now as it was at the height of my career. How I ever fitted in my shows I do not know! I'm still very involved in the show-biz charitable organisation The Grand Order of Water Rats, the Variety Club of Great Britain and the highly successful worldwide fund raising Gold Heart campaign, for sick, handicapped and under-privileged children. I'm also still trying to get my scrapbooks in order, a task that seems never-ending.
In my travels I have seen some wonderful places but because I was working had little time to really enjoy them. In all my years working cruise ships 1 could never envisage taking that type of holiday. Now I can. It's a wonderful way to travel. The ship is literally a floating hotel where you never have to pack or unpack, where you are transported from one exotic location to another in sumptuous comfort. We intend to go on a cruise soon, but this time as incognito passengers.
Our children in 1969: Peter, Irena and Marvin.
Most importantly, retirement has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my ever-growing family. I've always maintained that magic is the greatest hobby in the world but it is not a particularly good profession. It's part of show business and show business, by definition, is very stressful and uncertain, involving a great deal of travel and time spent away from home. You wouldn't wish that lifestyle for your children and I've spent most of their lives discouraging them from thinking about being in show business. Luckily I succeeded in two out of three cases!
Our daughter Irena never felt the need to pick up a magic wand or jump in and out of star-spangled boxes, although I did rehearse some illusions with her. She did though inherit my wanderlust and has journeyed widely around the world, taking any job that would enable her to travel to some as yet unvisited country. She now works in the communications and conference industry, is married to a fine man called James and has a beautiful baby daughter Lauren. Her spare moments are occupied by painting, an artistic skill that she has inherited from her mother rather than myself. 1 should mention that Ruth has always been of an artistic nature. She studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. became a starlet, and then acted in television plays and several feature films. Then I came onto the scene and marriage and family life took over. Not wishing to let Ruth's acting talents go unseen, I did once try to inveigle her into a two-person telepathy act but she has long since forgiven me. She chose other ways to express her creative abilities, for instance, designing costume jewellery for London fashion boutiques. Her gardening skills are unsurpassed and she definitely has green fingers making our garden a much-admired splash of colour every year. She always managed to create elaborate costumes for the children who won every fancy dress competition they entered. Ruth employed the same skills when it came to adding the final touches of decoration to many of my props and I still consider the chandelier she constructed for my Dolls House illusion to be a masterpiece of miniaturisation. She really is an incredible lady.
Our eldest son Peter inherited the organisational and managerial skills of his grandfather and is now the managing director of a highly successful company called First Class Ltd, supplying primary schools with the best educational arts and crafts equipment from around the world. He is married to the delightful Tracy and they have two lovely young children, Lucy and her brother Max. Although he is only six years old at the time of writing this book he is definitely hooked on magic and I can see now that he will become Max the Magician and carry on the family name. Peter has, I'm glad to say, never shown the remotest interest in magic but if he has an obsession, it is surely golf, a game at which he excels.
Our other son, Marvin, had a similar indifference to magic until I conscripted him to help me at a magic convention in Lyon in France. Having taught him to demonstrate my trick deck. Cardcertina, which I had for sale at the dealers stand, I had inadvertently awoken some deep-seated interest in magic. He is now a keen performer, working both close-up and stand-
up professionally, and has reached an exceptionally high standard. I am very proud of the fact that we have appeared together on a number of occasions, in particular some television chat shows.
He and Peter now run what is probably the largest magic company in the world— Marvin's Magic. They have developed a range that is designed for budding magicians and is available in numerous locations around the world.
Many professional magicians have started their careers working as a Marvin's Magic demonstrator. They acknowledge that the experience has been invalauble in their development and success. Marvin's popularity on the shopping networks, both here and in America, selling the specialties of Marvin's Magic, has made him quite a television celebrity.
Marvin is married to the lovely Alison who copes brilliantly with his busy and varied life style. They have two-year old twin boys Matt David and Jack Alexander. Perhaps it is just as well that they are not identical otherwise he would have been tempted to use them in his shows.
Marvin's other great interest is football and his favourite club is Arsenal. As a teenager
A recent portrait of the entire Berglas family.
he used to save up to buy a ticket in the stands. Now they pay him to be there at every match as the resident magician and to host their hospitality suite. Combining two great passions is quite a feat.
With Many Thanks
Through the years of work on this book I had the constant encouragement of my wife Ruth. Both David Britland and I during our long sessions were fortified by mountains of delicious sandwiches, cookies, fruit plates and what in the end must have amounted to gallons of tea and coffee. It's probably fitting that she provided the fuel for our efforts, for her support and judgement have been so vital to my life. She certainly deserves much credit for whatever success I have achieved over the years. Thank you Ruth.
For the introductions to this book I would like to thank I ri Geller and Paul Daniels, the best-known British magician for the last three decades. I would also like to thank Brian Barnes for his friendship and considerable contributions to my personalized magic squares. Marc Paul for his support and enthusiasm, and to Spyros Melaris for kindly scanning many of the photographs and providing technical help with my often wayward computer.
1 have been working with David James, my illustrator, since 1976. He has provided illustrations for all my seminars, industrial presentations, lecture notes, my books A Question of Memory and The David Berglas File. I lis ability to quickly translate my descriptions into accurate sketches has always amazed me and been invaluable. Unfortunately he is not a magician and therefore won't be allowed to read this book! Sorry David.
Once again 1 would like to emphasise that it would be hard to find another writer as patient, diligent and probing as David Britland. We talked for hours about the tricks, routines and stunts that I used for a period of over fifty years. He would take each one and analyse it from the reader's point of view, and ask questions that I would never have thought of in order to make sure that every important detail had been noted. Thank you David, it's been an enjoyable experience, reliv ing my presentations and making me remember some of the finer details, which 1 thought had long been forgotten.
When we began this project, Jim Steinmeyer predicted that the three of us, Jim, David and myself, would make a good team. He was right. Jim's guidance was invaluable, his insights keen and his observations enlightening. He shaped the book that you now hold. Renowned as an inventor of illusions, he is also a remarkable researcher, writer and publisher and I for one am glad of his continuing contribution to the history of our art. Jim is a rare individual: creative, erudite, professional and incredibly motivating. It has been a pleasure to work with him.
As my motto has always been "Nothing is Impossible," I now have to admit that some things are. There is a limit for instance to the number of stunts, routines and memories one can fit into a single volume like this.
Recently I spent an interesting evening with Jon Racherbaumer, here in London. He repeated a very7 profound statement: "You never finish a book—you abandon it."
He was right.
A Final Story
I've just celebrated my 76th birthday and am taking a peaceful stroll through London's Regents Park, a rare moment of relaxation from my usual busy schedule, to gather my thoughts. It is a pleasant, sunny day and I am enjoying watching the ducks feeding on the lake. 1 am feeling particularly pleased with myself as someone told me earlier today how they have had to slow down because they were now over 60. and said, "When you get to my age you will probably have to do the same!" I didn't mention that 1 was more than 15 years older than him and have not slowed down yet!
Also, my ego has just been slightly inflated as two elderly ladies stop me for my autograph (what a good memory they must have). As I walk along, I think I hear a soft voice saying, "Mr. Berglas?" But 1 keep on walking. The voice becomes a little stronger. "Mr. Berglas?"!
turn around and see a very attractive young woman, fashionably dressed in a rather short skirt.
I'm a little surprised that such a young fan would request my autograph. Perhaps she is interested in magic and wants some advice. Maybe she remembers me from my last television series or is aware that I was President of The Magic Circle for many years, or she might be from one of the European countries where my face was well known on television. Perhaps she may have attended one of my many Industrial Seminars. After all, I have been in the public eye for over 50 years.
So why wouldn't this young lady want to speak for me for a moment? She looks at me in awe with her big, beautiful eyes.
1 straighten my tie, hold in my stomach, push out my chest and turn to her with a smile. In a voice full of admiration she says, "Wow, are you really the father of Marvin Berglas?"
Continue reading here: The Man in the Glass
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