The Beach in South Africa

In 1960 David was performing at the Beach Hotel in Durban, South Africa. It was a brand new hotel with a luxurious nightclub located in the basement and featured many famous British artistes, such as Tommy Trinder, Ted Ray and Max Wall. Television personality Bob Holness, a local radio presenter at that time, lent his services as compere in return for a chance to meet the celebrities and a slap-up meal each night.

As soon as David arrived, the hotel owner, Max Jude, asked if he could come up with some kind of publicity stunt. As it happened David had already seen something down at the beach that could provide the perfect opportunity for a very unusual illusion that might guarantee sensational publicity.

A couple of days later the necessary preparations had been made. David was standing on Durban beach and Bob Holness began to drum up a large crowd with all the showmanship of a fairground barker. Tourists, natives, and fishermen all stopped what they where doing and began to gather around. He introduced David Berglas, now starring in cabaret at the Beach Hotel, and David took a bow.

An open, low sided, truck drove into view behind them, left the road and travelled along the sand and towards the crowd. People moved aside to let it through. In the back it

carried a wooden box about the size of a coffin. David climbed onto the truck while two locals stepped forward to open the wooden box and take a look inside. It was empty. David climbed into the box and the lid was replaced. Following instructions from the commentator the two men began to nail it shut.

"The box is airtight and there's just a couple of minutes of air inside," said Bob Holness so he encouraged the men to hurry their task. He didn't want David in there too long. They hammered the last nails in and then jumped down onto the sand. The commentator signalled the driver and the truck pulled away. Slowly it headed towards the water.

But it was all taking too much time. A couple of minutes of air the commentator had said. Surely it had taken longer than that? Bob began to wave his arms in a frantic attempt to signal the driver. Something had gone wrong. The truck stopped at the water's edge then slowly reversed back towards the crowd.

"Quick, get him out!" shouted Bob. Two men from the crowd leapt onto the truck and began to prise the lid off using large crowbars. But the lid had been nailed down and it was taking longer than expected. Then, with a crack, the lid popped free. The two men lifted it clear, looked into the box and screamed.

They screamed again, dropped the lid, leapt to the ground and ran through the crowd in terror, mumbling something about witch doctors and black magic. As they ran into the distance the crowd stared in silence wondering what had happened to David. What had the two men seen?

The owners of the truck climbed back on board and slowly tipped the box towards the crowd. Inside was a live baby shark, thrashing about and snapping its jaws. David had completely disappeared.

Revelations: When David arrived in Durban he began thinking about possible publicity stunts. He wanted something that was specific to the area rather than the usual generic

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Responses

  • severino
    Why south Afrika on beach publicity large?
    2 years ago

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