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Charles Joseph Carter

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Charles Joseph Carter (1874 – 1936) was an American stage magician who performed as "Carter the Great." A native of San Francisco, California, Carter began his career as a journalist and lawyer.

Charles Joseph Carter
San Francisco, California

Due to stiff competition from the number of magic acts on the American stages at the time, Carter opted to pursue his career abroad, where he achieved his greatest fame.

Among the highlights of Carter's stage performances were the classic "sawing a woman in half" illusion (an elaborate surgical-themed version with "nurses" in attendance), making a live elephant disappear and "cheating the gallows", where a shrouded Carter would vanish, just as he dropped at the end of a hangman's noose.

Charles Carter first theatrical experience occurred at the Herzog's museum and Pat Harris' Masonic Temple in Baltimore at the age of 10, where he appeared as "Master Charles Carter the Original Boy Magician".

Carter purchased the famous Martinka Magic Palace in 1917, when he was unable to continue his world touring magic show. It's been told that he kept his lion, Monty in the back room of the shop which would often startle customers when it would roar. He sold the Martinka Magic Store to Houdini in 1919.

On April 9, 1918, Carter opened on Broadway to mixed reviews. Billboard said he was clever and witty, however, Variety found the acting in one of his skits "almost as atrocious as the lion seems ferocious." Carter's "indefinite" run only lasted a mere two weeks.

Carter the Great by Mike Caveney (1995) gives detailed account of Carter and his extraordinary life.

A fictionalized account of his life can be found in "Carter Beats the Devil" (ISBN 0-7868-8632-3) by Glen David Gold.

Touring Dates


  • September 15-21  : Decatur, Illinois
  • September 27 - Oct 3 : Cleveland, Ohio
  • October 4 - ?  : Cincinnati, Ohio
  • October 28 - ?  : Holland, Michigan
  • November 8 - ?  : Chicago Heights, Illinois
  • November 19 - ?  : Fairmount, Indiana
  • November 30 - ?  : Tecumseh, Michigan


  • December 25  : Terre Haute, Indiana


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