Burke, Michael (1918-1987)

The Michael Burke collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, professional material, printed material, scrapbooks, and other items.  The eclectic nature of the collection reflects Burke’s varied career as a college star athlete, decorated Naval Officer, O.S.S. agent, C.I.A. agent, general manager of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, CBS television network executive, and President of the New York Yankees, the New York Nicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden.

Manuscripts in the collection primarily consist of drafts of Burke’s autobiography, Outrageous Good Fortune (Little, Brown, 1984).  Also present are notebooks Burke used in preparing his text, as well as several pages of notes.  The collection also includes short manuscripts and speeches, dating from 1975 to 1986, as well as date books and diaries dating from 1949 to 1981.

Correspondence in the collection includes both personal correspondence from family and friends, as well as professional correspondence from business associates, including his publisher, his World War II files, and the general public.  These are arranged by topic by Burke.  Personal letters include correspondence from his father and mother, his daughters Patricia, Doreen, and Michele, and his son, Peter.  In the World War II correspondence files there is a note from Ernest Hemingway as part of a letter from Mary Welsh Hemingway (December 1955), as well as cards and photos from his companions in the French Resistance.  Other notable correspondence in the category of “friends” includes letters from author Shana Alexander, actresses Geraldine Fitzgerald and Tammy Grimes, and photographer/author Jill Krementz.  There is also correspondence from Richard M. Nixon, Henry Ringling North, CBS executive Frank Stanton, George Steinbrenner, journalist/author Pete Hamill, publisher Alfred Knopf, Jr., New York politician  John V. Lindsay, author George Plimpton, author Irwin Shaw, and dancer Jacques D’Amboise.  Also present are letters from a number of friends Burke made in th OSS and the CIA.

Professional material in the collection includes items related to the New York Yankees (1967-1977), including records of finances, contracts, and meetings, as well as scrapbooks of news clippings, photographs and memorabilia.  There is also material related to Madison Square Garden (1973-1981), including records of finances, contracts and meetings, as well as files on sporting events, entertainment acts, and news articles.  

Printed material includes news articles about, and in some cases, by Burke; reviews of Outrageous Good Fortune; and stories about Madison Square Garden and the New York Yankees.        

Scrapbooks in the collection include an album regarding the New York Yankees, as well as scrapbooks documenting Burke’s activities in World War II; the Fritz Lang O.S.S. movie, “Cloak and Dagger,”with Burke as “technical advisor”; the circus; and Burke’s early athletic career.

Other material in the collection includes photographs of Burke with family and notables from the worlds of politics and sports; passports; awards; CBS network meeting notes and book promotion; and radio and television recordings. 

Burke is represented in the book collection with a first edition copy of his 1984 autobiography, Outrageous Good Fortune.

Notable Figures
1. Burke, Michael, 1918-
Associated Subjects
1. Military History Subject Guide
2. Espionage Subject Guide
3. Intelligence service – United States
4. United States – Politics and government – 20th century
5. World War, 1939-1945
6. Sports team owners – United States
7. Athletes -- Photographs.
8. Sports teams – United States
9. Scrapbooks
10. Photographs
11. Espionage