David started Magic and Escapology from an early age, inspired by a next door neighbour who used to perform magic tricks, David decided to give the art a go himself after seeing the “Houdini” Paramount film at the age of fifteen he started performing escapology. He began performing at local carnivals and in the Oldham pubs & clubs before joining Oldham’s answer to the Magic Circle “The Oldham Magi.” His first trick was to escape from a wooden cotton package and he later performed in public where he was buried for two hours in an air-tight coffin. David’s first outdoor underwater escape was at a local gala in 1958 aged 20.
Although magic was a hobby (Including collecting old magic and books), he took the opportunity after he was made redundant to go professional where he became a celebrated cabaret magician, performing many magical acts one which included a “Dove Act” from 1960 – 1974.
David's career progressed to being a world-class escape artist, and manufacturer of magician’s props, as well as inventing many escape items of which he used himself. He put out his first effect with Supreme Magic in 1958 “The Z Ray' Act" This was a double act which he performed with good friend the Late Frank Koval. Supreme magic at one point were the exclusive worldwide distributors for all David’s escape equipment and props. He made high quality items which to this day are very hard to find.
David has performed in front of Princess Margaret, and countless thousands in his many shows over his time which included TV Performances, He made his first TV appearance on the UK quiz programme "Double Your Money" performing the "Dagger Chest” in 1962, the show usually aired at 7.30pm on a Thursday night in those days.
David was a fantastic researcher, He spent many years researching various topics and people, and one example was the Fenton Lock. This he had researched for many years. David also did escape from this lock in 1984, although he never received any publicity when he performed this escape. His ultimate research was Houdini’s cell escapes. He started to research Houdini’s cell escapes in 1960, he also visited some of the actual cells which Houdini escaped from in the 1900’s. He would scower news papers, magazines etc in search of the fact and information. David eventually discovered the secret of Houdini’s test condition cell escapes in February 1982. He published the secret for magicians and escapologists in his book "Cell Escape - the real secret" in 2000. (re-released and updated in 2016)
It was not always easy to get permissions to perform prison escapes, this he highlighted in a TV appearance in 1983 on the programme “Collecting Now” hoping someone would put him in jail so to speak, this had a great result David made his first jail cell escape under strict test conditions in 1983. He escaped from the dungeon cell at York which held the highwayman Dick Turpin, a feat his idol Harry Houdini had refused to try in 1909, this was filmed by BBC TV and Yorkshire TV on Monday April 18th 1983, and he escaped the cell accomplishing the most amazing escape!
He later appeared in the BBC TV “Hotline” UK Show which was aired in 26th September 1984 where he escaped from the superb iron mask, thumb Screw, and handcuffs, while riding the Blackpool pleasure beach Rollercoaster at 60mph, this was a feat in its self without the added twists and turns and upside down g-forces. David did it live and you can see it here on the site.
David also made escapes from the 17th Century prison in Ripon on 26th July 1983. Further escapes David made were from Burnley Tow Hall in which he escaped from a cell beneath the Town Hall which was constructed in 1886 and in use right up in to 1958. David also performed the “Milk Churn “Escape at British Ring Convention and at the Westwood Gala Leeds where this time the churn was filled with Beer!
He made so many other escapes in his career, Inc the grenade & mailbag escape, chain escapes, Inside of a car boot escape,Dog Kennel Escape,Underwater escapes, Cage Escapes as well as Elevator escapes. Some of his escapes had a real element of danger and on one occasion he was injured when an explosion went off prematurely during a stunt in one of his shows.
Later in his life, he remained to be an author and mentor to young magicians as well as an advisor to television and film makers. David worked closely with his friend “Riley” who illustrated, designed & edited many of the books they worked on to publish. “Riley” also helped in the manufacture of David’s escape padlocks.
David did an interview later in his years about Houdini for a USA based Film Company (American Experience Houdini) in this he talks about many of Houdini’s performances and escapes as well as the art of Escapology. It’s a wonderful interview.
David made many friends over his lifetime and these people were frequently mentioned in the many documents and information related to his career, each will have their own memory who met & spoke to him. David sadly passed away in 2002. His legacy will continue to remain as one of the most talented Magicians, Author, and Escape Artist & Escape equipment maker in the history of Escapology.
It is the unspoken ethic of all magicians to not reveal the secrets.