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Carter the Great: The Magical Life of Charles Joseph Carter

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Discover the fascinating life and career of Charles Joseph Carter, known as Carter the Great, a skilled magician and inventor who left a lasting impact on the world of magic.

Explore his magical journey, inventions, and the legacy he left behind.

Four Carter the Great posters scattered
Posters of Carter the Great

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Charles Joseph Carter - "Carter the Great": A Master Magician's Journey

Let's discover another one of the world's greatest magicians!

Charles Joseph Carter, better known as "Carter the Great," was an influential magician who captivated audiences worldwide with his incredible illusions and unwavering determination.

This blog post will delve into Carter's life, from his early beginnings in magic to his entrepreneurial ventures, world tours, and lasting legacy.

Magician Carter the Great holding a crystal ball
Charles Joseph Carter (June 14, 1874 – February 13, 1936) was an American stage magician, also known as Carter the Great.


Early Life and Beginnings in Magic

Born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, on June 14, 1874, Carter's fascination with magic began during his teenage years when he started performing as "Master Charles Carter the Original Boy Magician"

After attending law school in Chicago, he gained a strong foundation in legal education and developed essential skills that proved invaluable throughout his remarkable career in the world of magic.


World Tours and Global Success

Instead of competing with other great magicians in major cities, Carter focused on performing in remote areas of the globe where audiences rarely had the opportunity to witness magic shows.

Charles Joseph Carter looking off camera
Charles Joseph Carter Portrait

He embarked on seven extensive world tours, often lasting over two years, staying in luxurious hotels, dining in the finest restaurants, and traveling in first-class accommodations.


Signature Illusions and Performances

Some of Carter's most famous illusions include "The Lion's Bride" and the "Temple of Mystery."

However, his career was not without its setbacks.

In 1921, he lost a fortune filming "The Lion's Bride" in South Africa, a movie he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in.

In 1933, he faced another financial loss when his Temple of Mystery at the Chicago World's Fair closed after just two months of poor business.


Entrepreneurial Ventures

Carter was not only a talented magician but also a savvy entrepreneur. He formed a booking agency called The National Theatrical Exchange and started a theatrical magazine called The Chicago Footlights.

Carter even owned the famous New York magic company, Martinka's Magical Palace for a few short years before selling it to the legendary Harry Houdini.


Personal Life and Legacy

Carter's success allowed him to build a beautiful home overlooking San Francisco Bay and invest in a large apartment building.

Today, his legacy lives on as an example of ambition, determination, and the power to share the art of magic with audiences worldwide.

Carter the Great in Egyptian attire, holding a crystal ball with two female assistants on his sides
Carter The Great - Charles Joseph Carter in Egyptian attire


Interesting Facts About Carter the Great

  • Carter narrowly avoided boarding the doomed RMS Titanic in 1912, because the ship's storage was already full.

  • He was a lawyer and a magician, graduating from law school in 1905.

  • Carter the Great has a connection to the popular TV show "How I Met Your Mother," as a poster of him can be seen in the lead character Barney Stinson's apartment.

  • Carter capitalized on the Egyptian craze of the 1920s by commissioning a special poster of himself in front of the Sphinx and the Pyramid of Cheops.

  • One of his famous illusions, "The Phantom Bride," originally had the less amusing name "The Magical Divorce."



In conclusion, Charles Joseph Carter, or "Carter the Great," was a master magician whose ambition, determination, and contributions to the world of magic continue to inspire and captivate audiences today.

Be sure to explore more about other fascinating magicians in our future blog posts.


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Ryan Joyce - Magician, Illusionist, Hypnotist & Speaker

​Ryan Joyce is the Executive Director of the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival. Ryan is a professional magician, entertainer and speaker who has performed over 5000+ shows worldwide. He has appeared on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, Canada's Got Talent and every Canadian national television network. He has over 10+ million views on YouTube, Facebook and social media and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies to deliver world-class performance.



5 comentários

Quintan Barnes
Quintan Barnes
30 de abr.

As someone fascinated by the mystique of illusionists like Carter the Great, I couldn't help but be drawn into this captivating article. It's remarkable how his life intertwined with magic, leaving an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. Speaking of making a mark, if you're ever in need of salvaging something truly special, like uncovering hidden treasures, I highly recommend checking out Their extensive selection of salvage vehicles, including those with hail damage, feels almost magical in itself. Who knows, you might just find your own piece of history waiting to be restored to its former glory!


19 de jun. de 2023

Really enjoyed the article. I believe my grandfather travelled with Carter the Great for a short while in the early 1920s. Nothing much online about him (grandfather) and imagine he’d have just been a “worker” but I’d appreciate any links you have to Carters travels in say 1920-1923.

Ryan Joyce
Ryan Joyce
20 de jun. de 2023
Respondendo a

That's fascinating! If you discover any information let me know!!!


David Hand
David Hand
13 de jun. de 2023

That article was very interesting, thank you for sharing, kind regards, David from the U.K.

Ryan Joyce
Ryan Joyce
13 de jun. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks David! I was surprised by the Titanic connection. Cheers!


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