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Clinton Burgess

Controversy with Houdini

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Clinton Burgess

Clinton Burgess and Robert Elroy

  • 1880-1932
  • Real Name: Clinton Burgess
  • Birthday: August 7
  • Birthplace: United States
  • Buried: ?

Clinton Burgess was an American magician, author and magic collector.

Starting as a stagehand in 1898, Burgess made his professional debut at Tony Pastor's in 1902. His specialty was card magic and manipulation.

Burgess was not always the star, however. In the June 1912 issue of The Luyceumite and Talent magazine, Burgess is advertised as "Robert Henri Elroy, assisted by Clinton Burgess". In their act, Elroy performed manipulations and silk effects, while Burgess did card effects and fancy flourishes billed as "The Champion Card Conjurer of America".

Though he was an acceptable entertainer, he found much more success as an entertainment agent, operating the Metropolitan Bureau of Magic in New York City with partner Robert Elroy.

His article, "Music for Magic" in the March 1921 edition of Sphinx magazine was the first time the subject was discussed in the magic press.

He also wrote a popular column in Mahatma, with articles generally focused on criticizing the mainstream media for its exposures of magical methods to the public.

It was his collaboration with Houdini that caused the most controversy. In 1920, the famous card magician Dr. Elliott died before he could finish a book of card effects he was writing. Houdini and Burgess took Elliott's notes, and together finished the book, published in 1922 as Elliott's Legacy to the Conjuring Fraternity. With Houdini's name on the cover as sole author. In big letters. The book was reprinted in 1923, retitled Elliott's Last Legacy: Secrets of the King of All Kard Kings, and Clinton Burgess was properly listed as one of the authors.

Burgess was also an active part of the magic fraternity. He was a charter member of George Closson's Brotherhood of Magicians, and also served as secretary for the National Conjurers' Association. he also held Membership #8 in the I.B.M.

Interesting fact: Burgess was named after his great-grandfather, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton.


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