The Mentalists


     More than a century ago, Julius and Agnes Zancig, a Danish-American couple, brought their astonishing mind-reading act to America’s vaudeville theaters. “Two minds with but a single thought!” gushed the programs. Billed as the Master Mystics of Five Continents, the Zancigs claimed to have performed in Japan, China, South Africa, Europe, and India, where they supposedly learned the Oriental secrets of telepathy.  Their act was so good that it confounded skeptics and convinced many newspaper reporters, scientists, and prominent people that the couple was truly telepathic.   

     Of course, they weren’t. An elaborate code was at the heart of their success, a code that dozens of challengers and tests failed to expose. Only after their deaths would the secret be revealed by a magician and a psychic researcher. In Sensational Tales of Mystery Men (1929), the magician wrote, “The pair worked on a very complicated and intricate code. There was never any question of thought transference in the act. By framing his question in a certain manner Julius was able to convey to his wife exactly what sort of object or design had been handed to him. Long and continual practice had brought their scheme as near perfection as is humanly possible. On several occasions confederates were placed in the audience and at such times the effects seemed nothing short of miraculous. All their various tests were cunningly faked and their methods were so thorough that detection was an absolute impossibility to the layman.” In Rudi Schneider (1930), the psychic researcher wrote “The Zancigs’ performance took years of study to perfect, and several hours practice daily were needed to keep the performers in good form. I have the Zancigs’ codes in my library and know the hard work that both Mr. Julius Zancig and his wife put into their ‘act,’ a matter which I have discussed with Mr. Zancig himself.”

     Read descriptions of their acts at :

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 4:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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