Claude M. Bristol: The Magic Of Believing

On this date in 1951, writer Claude M. Bristol died.

He is the author of a classic called The Magic of Believing.

Both Liberace and Phyllis Diller swore by this book. It was like their own Bible.

Her pal Liberace (whom she says “was not a good pianist but a wonderful entertainer”) had also read the book. They would talk about it endlessly.

Diller said:

The Magic of Believing was responsible for both of our successes. We followed it letter by letter.

From the biography, Liberace: An American Boy by Darden Asbury Pyron:

Liberace was not a reader. He left no evidence at all of devotion to the written word. In the numerous photographs of his homes, books appear nowhere. In his nearly seventy years, he mentioned only one book by name. This one, however, he considered a semi-sacred text, and Claude M. Bristol’s The Magic of Believing offers a nice guide to the entertainer’s values[.]


About the same time that Leach interviewed him, the showman made another television appearance for Merv Griffin to celebrate Phyllis Diller’s thirty years in show business. He loved and admired Diller the same way he respected Debbie Reynolds. Diller had the distinction, too, of being another devotee of Claude Bristol.

Now this has to make you wonder, especially if you grew up in the early 1960s and were exposed to Liberace and Phyllis Diller in their TV heyday.

I don’t think there were two more “out there” performers at the time than them. Liberace was flamboyantly effeminate during a time of widespread fear of homosexuality. Phyllis Diller never had a face for TV and had a voice that could scratch records.

Yet both of them got where they both wanted to be, and they credited Bristol’s book for that.

Years ago, before there was much on the Internet, I researched Claude M. Bristol via online databases. Aside from a few reviews, the only thing I came up with was his obituary:

New York Times
December 17, 1951
pg. 31, column 2

Claude M. Bristol

Portland, Ore. Dec. 16 (AP) —
Claude M. Bristol of Portland, author of 1948 best-seller “Magic of Believing,” died in a hospital here Friday night after a long illness. His age was 61.

“Magic of Believing” is a non-fiction book that says generally that a person can change the events of his everyday life by holding what Mr. Bristol termed the proper thoughts.

I still think it’s very, very strange there wasn’t one interview with him anywhere. And no photographs.

Wikipedia has deleted his entry, so all that really remains on the Net is this site, which has a small pop-up sales pitch that can be immediately closed for reading.

One final word: Do not mistake “believing” for not doing the work that’s needed to get ahead. Liberace and Diller didn’t sit around and wish. They worked damned hard to achieve their goals. The magic ingredient is that they believed they could.

Update, August 21, 2012:

The death of Phyllis Diller yesterday is bringing people to this post.

See also these posts:

Phyllis Diller
Photos Of Writer Claude M. Bristol
R.I.P. Phyllis Diller, Comedienne And Inspiration


Filed under Writer

24 responses to “Claude M. Bristol: The Magic Of Believing

  1. kittent

    it’s not available on kindle but you can go to amazon and get the album on MP3

    The Magic of Believing
    Claude M. Bristol | Format: MP3 Download
    From the Album The Magic of Believing
    Be the first to review this item
    Like (0)
    Price: $0.99

    * Original Release Date: February 13, 2008
    * Format – Music: MP3
    * Compatible with MP3 Players (including with iPod®), iTunes, Windows Media Player

  2. Hey Mike! Thank you for this post!
    I am rereading this book right now and it is amazing!
    I thought it was very strange too that there is nothing about this guy and to add to that that he died just 3 yrs after the book was published. strange stuff.but powerfull book. I love it. Why do you think there is nothing on him to be found? especially that there is millions of copies of this book sold?

    • mikecane

      I think the book became popular well after his death. Prior to that, he was just another writer with another book during an age when books like that weren’t given any hype at all, unlike today. It’s too bad he didn’t live to see how he affected the lives of others, especially Liberace and Phyllis Diller.

  3. Odonnell

    I own this book The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol. My copy is the one with famous pianist/entertainer Liberace on the cover and his introduction to the book. Liberace used Claude M. Bristol’s information to further his life, carreer and to overcome speech impediments as well as having a bit of a social disorder. It’s a good book. The information has been around for centuries… even though the auther of the ‘Secret’ makes folks think that the laws of attraction is a new thing.

    Claude M. Bristol talks about the laws of atraction, affirmation, the ‘magic’ of believing as far back as World War I.

    Claude M. Bristol wrote other books and his writings were most popular amongs millionares, celebrities and such. Sort of like how Kabala or Scientology is with the elite of this world.

    I would recommend reading ‘The Magic of Believing’. The ‘mirror technique’ is a wonderful thing to know and to help you throughout your life.

  4. Michael Seggie

    Hi. I love “The Magic Of Believing”, and have researched the life of Claude M. Bristol. I do have pictures of him.

    • mikecane

      How were you able to research him? And have you posted the pictures anywhere? If you’d like to do a guest post about it, email me:

  5. Dave S

    I found an original 1948 hardback copy of “The Magic of Believing” at an estate sale a couple of weeks ago. I paid $2.00 for it. I started reading it at the sale and have not been able to put the book down since. I found a picture of him on the internet last week but did not save it…now I can’t find it again.

  6. I bought this book around 1988 and am rereading it now. It clarified for me the power of a burning passion and belief as key ro manifesting your desires.

    My burning desire in Aug 2011 was to gather a critical mass of people to focus their burning passion and belief that thoughts create to lift the food blockade in Somalia so that the starving people of Mogadishu can get to the food already available for them. In 3 weeks, I met by “accident” a man organizinf a day long telesummit on “Food for All” in the Horn of Africa, where Somalia is located! I was able to submit a proposal, which he heartily endorsed.ultimately, the committee did not accept it. However, I am not done yet! A burning desire cannot be stopped as the subconscious mind cannot help but bring to pass what I focus on in specific detail with “a purpose to attain it”. The phrase in quotation marks paraphrases Wallace Wattle’s “Science of Getting Rich” previously titled “Financial Success.”

    Thanks for keeping these ideas alive on your blog and through audience participation!

    Joyce Kawasaki, J. D.

  7. Paul

    Hello Mike,

    I have a photo of Claude M Bristol. Its not all that clear, but it is something. Let me know if you want a copy.


  8. Joseph

    Hi I am a living witness as to this book and the steps inside that work. In 1982 I picked up this book, i will never forget it I applied the techniques and WOW i got results, you have to make it work. In Feb 1984 it was a mild southern winter morning. I was desperate for needing work, i was reading this book and i went to a Truck Stop and a man told me that they need someone to polish the tanks and wheels of trucks, and i learned the craft and i practiced daily and i worked and i worked, I worked hard day and night and done this business, and within a year I was one the Best Tractor Trailer Truck Polishers in the South, I had customers from all over the United States from California, Maine, Canada, New York, Florida, N.C. Tennessee, Georgia. And I would read this book and things would happen.
    Now I am 53 years old and almost 30 years later, I am at the crossroads of my life. I am laid off I been through jobs, unemployment ran out struggling from some pay and living with a God Blessed friend and last year I started on the Internet a Computer Programming Course and I have put my resume on Monster, and got a lot of calls and e-mails and working crazy jobs and now just getting practice now I am needing to make money.
    I got my Certification as Mobile Development (Mobile Phones) so I know i have this power inside me to release it because I have a loving family and daughter i need to support.
    So I am so desperate that I am will to make this work for my Financial situation. I have come to the conclusion that this will work and i have the MP3 and the E-Book and found the older copy.
    It works man i am a living witness, if you want to correspond with me about this feel free to e-mail me.

  9. Edmund-Paul

    Contact me for a far better photo of Claude
    M Bristol and hand-writing image with his signature.

  10. Cilla

    I recently read “the magic of believing” and found it fitting to gift to my niece who is just going away to college and beginning her individual, unique life journey. I actually discovered while reading this book that I have very closely lived npmy own life by Claude’s recommendations, unwittingly, but successfully. I am just puzzled by one thought and that is “why did Claude die so young at age 61”? His obit stated a long term illness….what was it and I guess iw wonder why he could not overcome it by the “magic of believing”……unless itt was very serious and due to his circumstances (I.e. He smoked and got lung cancer…or, had polio or some dreadful disease not now a days very common). The circumstance of his death. Other me though…only because they are nowhere to be found, I cannot wonder if his death at a relatively young age does not defy his theories in his books. Non the less, I choose to believe….mostly because it is more gentile and pleasant to do so.

  11. Charles Gonzales

    I read the book in 1964 and it was worth a college education regarding information for life. Identify your Goal, establish a Plan, take Action and have the Desire to reach your Goal. A Goal and a Plan are nothing but Daydream unless you take Action to implement it and most important you must have the Desire to reach that Goal. You will have obstacles along the way but Desire will provide you the drive to go around the obstacles, under or over or through the obstacles. That’s what I remember about that book.
    A great life lesson.
    Charles Gonzales
    San Jose, CA.

  12. dennis jenkins

    Mr Cane,
    Thanks for your research.
    I am one of many who wonder of his illness at the young age of 61, my age currently.
    Do you feel that you have experienced great gain from Mr Bristol?
    dennis jenkins

  13. Marjorie

    So glad to have found your site. I have the Magic of Believing and TNT that I bought back in the 1960’s.
    They changed my life and I credit his words for my 25 year television career.
    I have bought several inspirational books over the years, but the messages are the same as Bristol’s…BELIEVE!
    My Magic book has yellowed pages and many inspiring words are underlined as they didn’t even have highlighter pens in those days.
    Amazing that such an inspiring man has so little written about him, did he have a family, what was his illness, etc.
    But you have at least found pictures.

    • I didn’t find the pictures, others did. I just copied them here. Given Bristol’s background, I keep wondering of he actually meant what he wrote or if he did the books for money on behalf of a publisher who requested them. We’ll probably never know.

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