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Million Dollar Mystery

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For the card trick, see Million Dollar Mystery (card trick)

Million-Dollar Mystery is a stage illusion in which from a small box, isolated in the middle and elevated above the stage, as many objects, animals, or persons appear as the magician likes.[1]

This illusion was created by Walter Jeans around 1927, based on his Silver Hat illusion from 1912.[2] Together with P. T. Selbit (the last major illusion he worked on before he retired), they improved the effect and Selbit premiered in 1928 in London as "The Million Dollar Mystery". [3]

Clive Maskelyne bought rights from Jeans in 1928 and Noel Maskelyne performed it as "The Uncanny Woman".[4]

Also in 1928, Howard Thurston purchased the American rights from Jeans. Built by Cyril Yettmah, Thurston also performed it as "The Million Dollar Mystery" in New York City in 1929.

Other notable performers have been Carter the Great (as "Einstein's Theory of Living in the Fourth Dimension"), Harry Thurston, Chefalo[5], Will Rock and Nicola. In 1970, Blackstone Jr. performed it on the Smothers Brothers show to produce the entire cast, including orchestra, from a telephone booth.[6]


  1. Walter Jeans: Illusioneer By Peter Warlock (1986)
  2. Conjurers' Optical Secrets by Sam Sharpe (1985)
  4. Tenth Annual Collectors' Day - 18th May, 1985 By AMY DAWES, Magic Circular, JULY, 1985
  5. Illusion Show - A Life in Magic by David Bamberg (1988)
  6. Harry Blackstone, In his own words, Genii 1997 June