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William C. Turtle

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BornNovember 24, 1888
Omaha, Nebraska,
DiedMay 2, 1948 (age 59)
Portland, Oregon

William C. Turtle (1888-1948) was a professional magician that performed on the Pacific Coast and in the Midwest (from Iowa to Portland) from the 1920s to the 1940s doing a Medicine Show and "school" shows. [1]


Born of English-Swedish parents, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where he was raised. At the age of thirteen, he left home to work in Alaska for three years. By the age of sixteen, he moved back to the Pacific Northwest to work in the lumber industry for several years. He learned a few simple card tricks from other lumbermen, sparking his interest in magic. He soon progressed enough talent to give his first show with a twenty-five cents admission in an old hall.

He finally quit the lumber industry to travel and give shows in small towns, halls, and movie theaters.

Based on reports in various magazines, Turtle moved from Portland to Waterloo, Iowa in the 1920s before moving back to Portland in the 1930s. Turtle was IBM number 108 and attended their first convention in 1926.[2]

Turtle developed the "World's First Traveling Theater", a sixty-one seat air conditioned show car attraction which catered to schools. [3]

Later in life, he became a playing card collector and had over 2000 different playing cards in his collection[4]

A "Professor Turtle" was one of Lee Grabel's inspiration for getting into magic, while living in Portland, Oregon in the l930s.


  • Deck of Cards to Bouquet in Linking Ring, February 1927, page 985.
  • Card tricks in Mechanics Illustrated, March 1940.
  • Hoopla Silk in The Dragon Vol. 12, October 1943.


  1. Obit - New Conjurers' Magazine, March 1948
  2. Linking Ring, December 1928
  3. Linking Ring, September 1940, page 518
  4. Tops June 1939