Julius and Agnes Zancig
Julius and Agnes Zancig were stage magicians and authors on occultism who performed a spectacularly successful two-person mentalism act during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Julius Zancig (1857–1929) – born Julius Jörgensen in Copenhagen, Denmark – and his wife Agnes Claussen Jörgensen (c.1850s −1916) – also born in Copenhagen, and known as Agnes Zancig – were the originators of the routine.
Several versions of The Zancigs' mind reading act appeared over the years:
- From their first professional appearance in the 1880s, until her death in 1916, the act consisted of Julius Jörgensen Zancig and his wife Agnes Claussen Jörgensen Zancig. Julius and Agnes were very close to one another in real life as well as on stage and were billed as "Two Minds With But a Single Thought." They had been childhood sweethearts in Denmark but grew apart, then met and fell in love again after both had emigrated to the United States. They were married in 1886. Theirs was the most popular and famous version of the act, and was successful for 30 years.
- As a performing duo, The Zancigs toured the world, visiting England, India, China, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. After several years of travel, they again settled in the United States.
- During the early 1900s, Julius Zancig wrote articles for magazines. Both individually and as a pair, Agnes and Julius also wrote and published several books on such occult methods of divination and fortune telling as cartomancy, palmistry, and scrying with a crystal ball. On the title pages of these books, they styled themselves "Prof. Zancig" and "Mdme. Zancig."
- In 1916, at around the age 59, Agnes died. Julius remarried to a schoolteacher named Ada, who had been born in Brooklyn, New York, and she became his new partner in the mentalism act.
- By 1917, Ada's dislike for public appearances had become so strong that Julius hired Paul Vučić (a.k.a. Paul Rosini) to take her place, under the stage-name "Henry."
- In 1917, Vučić, born in 1902 in Trieste to Serbian parents, decided to join the armed forces when the U.S. entered World War I and was replaced by David Theodore Bamberg (1904–1974), the teenaged son of the stage magician Theo "Okito" Bamberg. David Bamberg performed the Zancigs' mind-reading act with Julius under the stage name "Syko the Psychic".
- In 1919, the Bamberg family left for Europe and Ada rejoined the act.
Retirement and private work for clients
During the 1920s, the Zancigs retired from touring. Julius was in his mid 60s, and the couple settled down to a quiet life as professional astrologers, tea leaf readers, crystal ball seers, and palmists, working for private clients. For a while they resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Zancigs worked their stage act by means of an extremely elaborate and undetectable verbal code, which in later years became known as the Zancig Code. In 1921 a small (but by itself essentially useless) portion of the Zancigs' methodology was published by their friend and fellow mentalist-magician, Alexander the Crystal Seer.
The spiritualists Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead were duped into believing that the Zancigs had genuine psychic powers. Both Doyle and Stead wrote that the Zancigs performed telepathy. In 1924 Julius and Agnes Zancig confessed that that their mind reading act was a trick and published the secret code and all the details of the trick method they had used under the title of Our Secrets!! in a London Newspaper.
Writing in 1929, the year of Julius Zancig's death, the British magician Will Goldston also attempted to describe the code in some depth, but he did not reveal its entirety. In the 1940s Robert Nelson published a simple stage code which superficially resembled that of the Zancigs, but it did not permit the diversity of expression they had achieved.
To this day, the Zancig Code, also known as "Two Minds With But a Single Thought," is considered by many professional mentalists to be the most dauntingly complex two-person communication system of its type ever devised.
In popular culture
When Stan Laurel, of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy, was approached by the fans who were starting the Laurel and Hardy fan club, "Sons of the Desert," he was asked to supply a motto for the lodge's logo and suggested a parody of the Zancigs' famous tag-line, "Two Minds Without a Single Thought!"
- Zancig, Julius. Adventures in Many Lands (online version)
- Crystal Gazing, The Unseen World: a Treatise on Concentration. I. and M. Ottenheimer Publishers. 1926
- Goldston, Will. The Truth About the Zancigs in Sensational Tales of Mystery Men. 1929. (online version)
- Fixen, Laura G. The True Secret of Mind Reading as Performed by the Zancigs. 1912.
- Romano, Chuck "House of Cards – The Life and Magic of Paul Rosini". 1999