The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife; Released in 1923, Lost! And a Mystery to Us Still.

Exhititors Herald March - June 1923

 

The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife, 1923, is one of the most elusive titles that I have attempted to research; little information regarding the feature film exists today. I will supply what modest data I have come across.

The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife was five-reels in length so around 55 minutes or so, although originally it ran eight reels, soon was edited and was ready for the silver-screen by the end of April, 1923.[1] Most modern sources have a release date of July 1, 1923, for The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife, but according to an ad taken out by Max Cohen in the April 17, edition of Film Daily, the film was already renting; with that said I can find no additional proof of his claims, that early in the year.

The Film Daily April 17, 1923

The Film Daily April 17, 1923

 

The only theater advert that I have found came from New York, in December of 1923.

Daily Argus Mount Vernon, New York, December 22, 1923

Daily Argus Mount Vernon, New York, December 22, 1923

 

As to the idea that the picture was selling like the proverbial ‘hot cakes’ is specious, for by November of 1923 a default judgment for just over $2,000.00 was filed in the New York Supreme Court, by Republic Laboratories (a reputable film processing company) against Max Cohen and George M. Merrick, the two principal makers of, The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife.[2] We may assume that the suit was for the King Tut film because neither Cohen nor Merrick had a recent project together. Clearly, King Tut did not perform well at the box-office, this is not a mystery.

Cohen claimed that the project was filming prior to the world-wide interest in the King Tut explorations of Lord Carnarvon.[3] Mr. Cohen was so taken with the film that he commissioned a song about it, lyrics by Arthur J. Lamb (Asleep in the Deep) and composed by Frederick B. Bower (vaudeville producer).[4]

The story of The Mystery of King Tut-ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife, was penned and produced by Andrew Remo, the scenario treatment work was by George M. Merrick and Max Cohen; John Bitzer was the film’s cinematographer.[5] I have taken these positions directly from the Exhibitor’s Trade Review magazine, I have assumed nothing as to their office in relation to the project; I can find no evidence that Remo was the director as some modern writers have suggested.

What is bizarre, is there is no mention of one single member of the cast for King Tut-ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife, as though they had fallen into an abyss; and as is the cast lost, so too is the movie.

Max Cohen (the film’s promoter and distributor) announced that a full line of exploitation products had been prepared for the release of the picture, including mummy-cases, miniature mummies, King Tut dolls and Egyptian drapes for lobby display; the press book was a reproduction of a small part of the information written in the world’s newspapers regarding the subject of King Tut.[6] In addition, Cohen had signed a deal with the National Drug Stores to carry window displays , tying-in to the movie’s play-dates, which Cohen believed was of an especial advantage, considering that New York, had more than twenty-five National Drug Stores.[7]

This is about all the evidence that is available that King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eighth Wife was ever produced, let alone shown at a movie house. The following full-page ads were a valiant attempt by an independent promoter, with limited advertising dollars, to garner interest in a film that obviously had neither stars nor even a cast of solid supporting players to its name. Mr. Cohen’s efforts did not pay off and because of loss or neglect, The Mystery of King Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Eight Wife remains shrouded in mystery to us.

Exhibitors Herald May 5, 1923Exhitibor's Trade Review April 21, 1923

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Exhibitors Herald, April 28, 1923

Motion Picture News, April 28, 1923

[2] Film Daily, November 22, 1923

[3] Motion Picture News, April 28, 1923

[4] Exhibitor’s Trade Review, April 28, 1923

Exhibitors Herald, May 5, 1923

[5] Exhibitor’s Trade Review, April 28, 1923

[6] Exhibitor’s Trade Review, April 28, 1923

[7] Exhibitor’s Trade Review, April 28, 1923

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