Alexander (magician) - Life and Stage Career

Life and Stage Career

Alexander was born in Alexandria, South Dakota, the son of Berthold Michael James Conlin. Within the family Claude Alexander was known as "C. A." and his brother Clarence Berthold Conlin was known as "C. B." Clarence B. had a successful career as an attorney and he also worked as a stage mentalist, although his fame never equalled that of Claude Alexander.

Between 1915 and 1924, Conlin, under the stage name "Alexander, The Man Who Knows," was a popular and highly paid stage mentalist. Alexander promoted his psychic act as a form of mental telepathy or mind reading. Audience members gave him sealed questions, which he answered from the stage. His techniques were not revealed during his lifetime. He is credited as the inventor and/or popular developer of a number of electrical stage effects which were the forerunners of modern electronic stage effects.

Both one of Alexander's biographer's, David Charvet, writing in the 2000s, and one of Alexander's publishers of the 1940s, Robert A. Nelson, have said that Alexander was the highest-paid mentalist in the world at the height of his career, during the 1920s. Both sources state that he earned multiple millions of dollars during his career on stage and that during his lifetime he may have been the highest paid entertainer in the field of magic.

Alexander retired from the stage in 1927, at the age of 47. He remained part of the social circles of entertainment personalities in Southern California, counting among his friends stars like Marion Davies, Margaret Sullavan, Jackie Coogan, Harold Lloyd, and Clara Bow. He died in 1954 at the age of 74 due to complications from an operation for stomach ulcers. He was survived by two sons and a daughter. He was buried in Seattle, Washington.

Alexander's career and personal life have long been shrouded in mystery, but in the late 20th century, Clarence's granddaughter Cathy Stevenson inherited scrap book material on the careers of both her grandfather "C. B." and great-uncle "C. A." which allowed biographers to take a closer look at the life of Alexander the Crystal Seer and his family.

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