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Charles Griffin

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Charles Griffin

Front-piece of "Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill" (1908)
BornCharles Eldridge Griffin
June 16, 1859
St. Joseph, Missouri
DiedJanuary 3, 1914 (age 54)
Albia, Iowa

Charles E. Griffin (1859-1914) was a magician, ventriloquist, fire eater, sword swallower, author, publisher, magic dealer, and sideshow manager. He was an advance man for circuses and the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.[1] He performed under the names Monsieur F. Le Costro, Professor Griffin, and the Yankee Yogi.


While he was a child, his family moved to Albia, Iowa and by the age of 16 was touring school houses, town halls, and county fairs as a magician. Griffin then joined Hilliard & DeMott's Circus. In 1889 Griffin was performing as "Professor Griffin, the Yankee Yogi, Magician and Sword Swallower" on the Bob Hunting Circus which he worked for twelves years and eventually owned and operated the sideshow.

He founded the Griffin's Conjuring College in New York City and in 1899 became stage manager with the Ringling Brothers Circus Side Show based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. He worked from 1899 to 1902 as magician, ventriloquist, lecturer and Sword Swallower. His wife, Octavia, worked with him as a snake charmer billed as "The White Witch" and "The Serpent Enchantress."

In June 1902, a major owner of the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, visited the show and asked Griffin and his family to tour with the Wild West Show in Europe. Griffin and his family joined the show and he began performing in the sideshow as the "Yankee Yogi and Conjuror". His wife and son worked with him and by 1904, Griffin had taken over as manager.

Shortly after arriving back in the United States, Griffin suffered a mild stroke but recovered to rejoined the Buffalo Bill Show for the 1907 season. In the fall of 1907, Griffin returned to Albia, Iowa, where he focused on writing.[2]

He was one of the first magicians to include devilish imps in his advertisements.[3]


  • Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill
  • Showman's Guide
  • Showman's Book of Wonders
  • How To Be A Contortionist! Bending Made Easy: A Practical Self-Instructor by a Well-Known Professional (1896)


  1. Griffin, Magicol No. 8 (November 1961).
  3. Magic 1400s-1950s by Jim Steinmeyer (Author), Mike Caveney (Author), Ricky Jay (Author), Noel Daniel (Editor) (2009)