The Mystery Of King

This is an illusion of a comedy nature. It is easy to perform and inexpensive to produce, yet has proved to be a real success.


Performer says he will give an imitation of the mummy of King Tut and starts to wrap himself in a blanket. His assistant protests, saying that a mummy is not wrapped that way. Thereupon the assistant takes the blanket and wraps himself in it. Performer and assistant argue about the way a mummy looks. Finally, an old gentleman down in the audience joins in the discussion and comes up on the stage. At the psychological moment, the old man removes his wig and beard and shows himself to be the assistant who a moment ago wrapped himself in the blanket. Then the blanket is unwound and a girl steps forth.


1 -- A fairly large blanket. The more color in it, the better—a patterned Navajo blanket does very well.

2 -- A tin or cardboard crown—you can make this or have it made easily.

Figure 1.

3 -- Wig and false whiskers, cane and eyeglasses, loose clothes for assistant to represent old man.

Assistants Required: One man and one girl.


To Prepare:

This illusion is best presented on a stage, but it is also good for parlor use, providing there is a door well placed to make a get-away.

In performing on a stage, the arrangement must be taken into consideration to determine whether it is best for assistants to change places by means of a door at center back or by a side door or by the wings.

Figure 2 shows a stage arrangement with open door at center back. Figure 3 shows a stage set with wings.

Figure 2 shows a stage arrangement with open door at center back. Figure 3 shows a stage set with wings.

First, I shall explain the method of working when the center door is used. In stage directions right and left are given as the performer faces audience.

Place a chair at rear of stage with crown on the seat. Blanket may be hung over back of chair or in some other convenient place.

The old man's wig, beard, cane, and clothes are offstage at the right so that man assistant can don them quickly at the proper moment.

To Perform.

Pick up the blanket and come forward to center of stage. Have man assistant at your left. Girl assistant stands behind the scenes just to right of door.

"The Mystery of King Tut. With this blanket, I shall imitate a mummy." Start to wrap yourself in blanket. Assistant comes forward a little and says: "Pardon me, but a mummy is wrapped in a different manner. You have to whirl into it." You say in an amused manner:

"Who ever heard of a mummy whirling into a blanket?" Assistant retorts:

"Anyway, that is how it is done. Dp you mind my showing you?" You tell assistant to go ahead and he takes blanket. He says: "Stand there and hold the blanket up high while I hold up this other side."

Figure 4 shows arrangement. P is the performer, A is the assistant and the line between represents the blanket. Figure 5 shows how blanket is stretched out between you and assistant.

Figure 4 shows arrangement. P is the performer, A is the assistant and the line between represents the blanket. Figure 5 shows how blanket is stretched out between you and assistant.

When blanket is held up this way, it screens center door enough to allow a person to enter or exit unobserved. Assistant now says:

"When I roll up in the mummy case or blanket, tuck your end around me. All ready."

Assistant wraps himself in the blanket in this way: He steps behind blanket so that only his left hand is visible at upper corner of blanket.

Figure 6 is view from rear.

He turns to the left, bringing the blanket around him. Figure 7.

Then he continues turning to the left until he is completely wrapped in the blanket. Figure 8 is view from audience, while assistant is wrapping himself.

When he is wrapped as in Figure 9, he motions to you under blanket and calls to you to undo him. "Unwrap me quick. Let me out."

Hold corners of blanket firmly while assistant unwraps himself by turning to the right several times. When he is unwrapped, you say:

"What is the matter?"

He tells you that he forgot his crown. He goes over to chair, picks up crown, and shows it. Then he says: "When I get wrapped up as a mummy, put the crown on my head. This is a king mummy and must wear a crown."

He replaces crown on seat of chair and picks up ends of blanket again as in Figure 5, saying, "All ready?"

This is the cue for girl assistant to come through center door and step behind blanket. She will not be seen by audience if blanket is held properly. Relative positions of Performer, Assistant, and Girl are shown in Figure 10.

Assistant then steps behind blanket as he did the first time. Figure 11 shows position of assistant and girl from rear.

Now comes a move which must be studied carefully in order to make it natural. When assistant wrapped himself, his right elbow naturally protruded from under the blanket. As girl is wrapped, she must imitate this elbow movement.

Assistant steps behind and to right of girl while she slips into his place. As assistant brings blanket around her, she turns around, pushes right elbow out a little into blanket, and grasps upper corner of blanket with left hand. This is done quickly in one continuous movement so that audience suspects nothing.

Figure 12 shows the actual movement.

Figure 13 shows a diagram of the positions at this point.

Assistant now quickly exits through center door and back stage and puts on the old man's clothes, the wig, whiskers, and eyeglasses as hurriedly as possible. The moment assistant is offstage, girl continues to wrap herself in blanket by turning to the left just as assistant did the first time.

When girl is wrapped as in Figure 9, she moves her arms under blanket and turns her head and shoulders toward crown. This gives a funny effect.

Figure 15 shows a diagram of position of girl and yourself at this point.

Figure 15 shows a diagram of position of girl and yourself at this point.

You walk over to chair and pick up crown. Bring it over and place it on girl's head over the blanket.

Figure 16.

"I never saw a mummy with a crown—not even a king mummy like King Tut."

The patter from now on must be worked up to the proper length to allow assistant to get into his clothes and to come around to rear of theater or hall so that he can come up the aisle from back of the audience. If desired, you may give him time to sit for a moment in an empty seat.

Assistant must hurry as much as possible as speed is important in working an illusion. While he is taking the necessary time, you must keep up the interest of the audience. You talk and the girl answers with motions, bending her body and shaking her head.

"The crown was placed in a separate compartment outside of the mummy case, if I remember right."

Girl shakes head from side to side to indicate, No.

"I do not know where you saw mummies or where you studied their getup. I still doubt whether you are even wrapped right."

Girl shakes head for Yes.

"Turn around once and let us see your back."

Girl turns back to audience.

"You are a fine looking mummy. If King Tut looked like that, he must have had an ignorant mummy wrapper and crown placer."

Girl turns to face audience again. Then you say to spectators:

"Do any of you people know anything about how a mummy was wrapped?"

Assistant dressed as old man hobbles up the aisle and talks in squeaky voice.

Figure 17.

"Hold on, young feller. I know how mummies is wrapped. I've wrapped and unwrapped many of 'em in my day. He ain't right and you ain't right. Neither one of you has the right idea. Egyptian mummies is peculiar things."

He comes down to stage and points cane at performer as he talks.

"Gol ding! The mummy clothes is crooked. Let me show ye how to fix 'em."

Figure 17A.

You say:

"Come up on the stage, dad."

You assist him up and this is another chance for comedy.

Assistant says:

"Gol ding! Take off that there crown. Unwrap the young feller and let's commence right. I'll show ye how Cleopatra herself was wrapped up."

Remove crown and unwind blanket by holding outer corners while girl revolves to the right. When she is free of blanket, it drops to floor and is held only at one end by performer. When girl appears, old man says:

Then he quickly removes spectacles, beard, and wig and shows that he is the man assistant who is supposed to have been wrapped in blanket.

Figure 17A.

You should have no trouble with this excellent illusion if you study the details of it and use care in performing. Notice the effect when assistant wraps himself in blanket and have girl imitate the movements to produce the same effect. Try to cover the feet as much as possible, but to avoid detection in case they are exposed, have the girl's and man's shoes similar. The costume of the girl may vary. It may be Turkish, Chinese, or any straight costume desired. If it is Chinese, the trousers and shoes of girl and man can be very much alike.

To Perform King Tut Illusion with Side Wings of Stage--

With this stage arrangement, have girl stand back of second wing at right of stage. When assistant and you hold blanket up, stand in such position as to screen edge of wing enough for girl to get behind blanket and for man to exit. Study Figures 18, 19, 20, and 21 for the various positions in performing illusion.

This illusion may be staged simply or very elaborately. It permits of many variations and I shall discuss methods to meet various needs. EFFECTS:

Performer dresses as a Hindu. He puts his girl assistant in a cloth sack and ties the opening together above her head. He places a three-sided parlor screen around her. Going through some oriental ceremonies, he walks around the screen and finally opens it. The bag is still there with the figure inside of it, but when the Hindu opens the bag, performer steps out of it instead of the girl who was placed there. The Hindu, who a moment ago was the performer, removes turban and whiskers and proves to be the girl assistant.


1 -- Two Hindu costumes made alike. Each consists of a turban, false beard with mustaches attached, a Hindu coat which reaches to the floor. The sash around coat is sewed on and opens in front with opening of coat. This speeds matters in dressing and undressing.

2 -- A special three-sided screen.

Figure 24.

Any good carpenter can build this for you, following directions given here.

Make three three sides middle sect Set screen place a fas sides. Scre casters so easily, or casters, as done.

Figure 22.

wooden frames for of screen. Hinge ion to the two sides. up in a triangle and tener on the two en may be mounted on that it can be moved it may be used without is more commonly

Now frame is covered with cloth. If casters are used, cloth must reach to the floor so that audience cannot see under screen. On two end sections of screen, cloth is put on straight. Have middle panel made of decorated cloth, gathered or pleated enough so that a slit down through the middle of it will not be seen. Cloth may be put on loose and taken up with elastic on edges of slit to allow for stretching, if desired.

Figure 23.

This slit must be so made as to allow a person to go through it easily. It must then close up again so that it cannot be detected.

Figure 24.

Screen may also be made of wood with two doors arranged in middle panel. These two doors are hinged inside to open inward. Doors should be fitted carefully into frame and then painted with a design so that they will look like a solid panel.

Figures 25 and 26.

Two doors in middle panel are fastened together with a catch to prevent their opening before time. Two sides of screen are painted and decorated to match

middle. Screen may be made into a neat and attractive piece of oriental furniture.

Screen may be placed on a platform, if desired, so that audience can see under it. In this case, performer walks

around edge of platform to make changes instead of walking on floor.

Figure 27.

3 -- A large cloth sack of opaque material, large enough to enclose a person and then tie over his head. The bag is open at top and bottom, but is basted together at bottom. To one end of basting thread a small button is attached so that it can be pulled out easily and bottom of bag opened. This is turned on inside of bag. Audience is not aware of this and believes bag to have a regular bottom.

Figure 2 8.

Assistants Required:

One man and one woman. Two men or two women may be used if performer does not carry an assistant of each sex with him.

SECRET: To Prepare:

Screen is placed on stage with middle panel to rear. Male assistant is inside, dressed in one of the Hindu costumes just as performer will be dressed.

Performer's Hindu outfit is placed on chair with the special cloth bag.

To Perform:

The illusion is performed in pantomime and no patter is required. If possible, have a music accompaniment.

Performer and girl assistant revolve screen to show all sides of it and move it to suitable spot near center of stage. Be careful not to lift screen and expose feet of assistant inside. Finally bring screen into position with opening at front and trick panel to rear. Note position of assistant (A).

When screen is in place, assistant steps through opening of rear panel to outside of screen. He then carefully closes opening in panel. Notice position of assistant (A).

Figure 30.

Performer opens screen to show inside of it. Sack is then shown inside and outside as an apparently unprepared

bag. Sack is now placed on floor inside of screen with top stretched out so that girl can step into it easily at proper moment.

Performer dons Hindu outfit. Girl steps into sack and performer pulls it up over her head, tying it at top with the piece of tape.

Figures 31 and 32.

Figure 33 shows position of girl in screen.

Performer now swings the two sides of screen together to enclose girl in bag and fastens them. Figure 34 is a diagram showing positions of Performer, Girl, and Assistant in relation to screen.

The moment screen is closed, girl crouches down, grasps button in bottom of bag and pulls out the basting thread to open bottom. She frees herself by pulling bag up over her head.

In the meantime, performer bows three or four times toward audience and raises his hands in a sort of oriental ceremony. He then walks around to back of screen. Instead of continuing to walk around, assistant comes out from behind screen to take his place. Audience is not aware of the substitution here and believes that performer merely walked completely around screen. Assistant turns back to audience and bows toward screen.

Figures 35 and 36.

During this time, performer quickly removes Hindu costume and gives it to girl to put on and then the whiskers and turban. Girl steps out of screen and performer goes in.

Figure 37.

Performer pulls bag down over his head and stands on bottom of it so that it looks just as it did when girl was in it.

Assistant now walks back to rear of screen again and stays there as girl, dressed as Hindu, comes out from behind it. This is the second substitution but audience still believes it is the performer walking around the screen.

Figure 38.

Girl goes through some ceremony just as performer and assistant did. Performer gives some signal to indicate that he is safe in bag and girl opens screen, revealing figure still in bag.

Figures 39 and 40.

Girl unties tape at top of bag and pulls bag down to reveal performer. As performer steps out of bag, she turns to audience and quickly removes Hindu outfit, revealing herself as the girl who was originally tied into the bag.

Figure 41.

Performer tosses bag aside and closes up screen. Male assistant steps into screen again through rear panel. Screen may be allowed to stand there or it may be removed to release assistant. * * * * * *

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