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Teleportation

Everyone has a twin, or so we're told. For a magician, that can be a boon. People often told David that someone they knew was his exact double. Sometimes he would meet the person concerned and was always disappointed that the resemblance was not what he had hoped. But on one occasion the man, a dentist, did look uncannily like David. What gave the resemblance some magical momentum was that the dentist was a keen enthusiast of amateur dramatics. It wasn't a case of pressing someone into service. The dentist was anxious to play his part in any illusion David cared to suggest. They were not twins. If you stood them together they would be easily told apart. But if one were in London and the other in Glasgow, well that would be a different matter.

It is the 23rd of August, 1958, Saturday night to be precise, and you're watching your favourite television show, Saturday Spectacular. The compere informs you that tonight you are going to see something rather special involving not only the studio in London but also a sister studio in Glasgow. A picture of the Glasgow studio immediately appears on your screen. You're looking at a wooden crate suspended from the studio ceiling by chains. It is raised up off the floor and a considerable distance from the studio walls. It has been there since the show began under the close observation of the Glasgow studio audience.

The picture flicks back to the London studio and you see the compere once more. What part will the wooden box play in tonight's entertainment? To explain more the compere introduces your favourite Man of Mystery, Mr David Berglas.

David walks on and says a few words, "Good evening ladies and gentleman, as you've been told I am going to attempt a feat that I have never tried before. I hope that it will succeed and that you enjoy it."

He walks to the centre of the studio floor and a second wooden box resembling a large packing crate. He climbs inside, waves goodbye and then ducks down out of sight. The lid is closed after him and the box is hauled up off the floor by a set of chains as music plays. Finally it is suspended and isolated in the air just like the box in Glasgow. There's a drum roll, a crescendo and the box suddenly falls open, suspended in the air by chains. It is empty.

The camera immediately cuts to Glasgow. The box there is lowered to the ground.

The lid is opened. And out steps David Berglas, none the worse for a magical journey which has transported him a distance of 500 miles in the blink of an eye.

Revelations: David was already in the box in Glasgow when it was brought before the studio audience. A magician friend, Max Raskin, took charge of the stage preparations and with the help of some other local magicians ensured that the box was handled properly. David had briefed the producers about the effect. They knew what was going to happen and were happy to participate in a stunt that would boost the show.

In London the dentist, dressed and made up exactly like David, walked on pretending to be Television's Man of Mystery and mimed a few words to a recording of David's voice. Then he climbed into the box, waved goodbye and was hauled into the air. The box itself was nothing elaborate. The dentist was merely hidden behind a rear panel when the box fell open. There wouldn't be too much time to scrutinise the box. It was shown empty and then the cameras cut to the box in Glasgow where the real David emerged and was able to say a few words and thank the audience for watching.

The stunt went well and the dentist got his long awaited chance to play the master magician. It didn't garner much in the way of publicity but it would have been a national sensation had David's original plans been put into action. The truth was that he had intended to disappear entirely and vanish without trace!

It was a period of David's life in which he was under a tremendous amount of pressure. Work was piling up and he sorely needed a break. He came up with the idea of vanishing in

the course of an illusion that would be broadcast live on national television. He'd get his break and front-page publicity at the same time.

Everything had been planned to the last detail. The dentist would disappear but David would not be in the box when they opened it in Glasgow. Only Max Raskin and one assistant were in on the trick. The rest of the production team would have been as baffled as the audience. David already had his passport and air ticket to a new destination. He would call his family on the way to the airport and tell them that it was a publicity stunt and they shouldn't worry. He'd be back after a short break.

It was a wild idea and at some stage must have seemed a good one. But as the deadline approached David had second thoughts. Not all publicity is worth having. How would he and his family handle the stress? He debated the consequences of the stunt all day and by the time he had climbed inside the box in Glasgow it was too late.

The dentist, by the way, after having disappeared and taken off his makeup, joined the studio audience to watch the rest of the show and was pleased to see himself reappear in a box in Glasgow. Mind you, he'd have been even more surprised if David had gone ahead with his original plan!

A second opportunity for teleportation arose when The Daily Mail newspaper advertised their London to Paris Race in 1959. The race would begin at London's Marble Arch and finish at the Arc de Triomphe and was open to individuals and organisations with a large prize going to the winner. The competition rules were scrutinised by the Royal Automobile Club, one of Britain's most prestigious motoring organisations. As a security measure they would time-stamp the competitor's entry forms at the race's starting and finishing points.

As soon as the competition was announced David declared to The Daily Mail that he would enter the competition and guaranteed to beat the fastest time set by any other competitor by several minutes.

The reason he was able to make such a bold statement was that an unusual plan for beating the other competitors had been set in motion long before the competition had been announced. It all happened by chance when David met an amateur magician who worked for the RAC and had been selected to serve on the competition committee.

David pondered the possibilities and then asked the magician if he would mind participating in a stunt. He agreed, especially as David said he would not claim the prize money. It would be the dentist, reprising his role as David, who would arrive at the RAC marquee in London and get the competition form time-stamped. The gathered journalists would watch "David Berglas" step into a magic cabinet set on top of a truck. The doors close. A few minutes later, they open and David has vanished.

As soon as the doppelganger disappears, David, already in France, receives a phone call. A truck takes him to the Paris finishing post where another set of journalists is introduced to a similar magic cabinet. Having verified that the cabinet is empty, the doors are closed.

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