Friday, August 17, 2007

How did David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear?

Before David Blaine was the biggest illusionist on the block, David Copperfield amazed audiences with his larger-than-life tricks. Perhaps his most famous stunt was in 1983 when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear (and then reappear) on live TV. The trick may be old, but people still wonder -- how did he do it?

Naturally, Mr. Copperfield isn't telling, so we consulted the research experts at The Straight Dope. They explain a common theory from William Poundstone's "Bigger Secrets." First, "Copperfield had a setup of two towers on a stage, supporting an arch to hold the huge curtain that would be used to conceal the statue." Those viewing the trick, both live and on TV, saw the statue through this arch.

After the curtain closed and while Mr. Copperfield addressed the audience, the stage was apparently rotating very slowly on a lazy Susan type turntable. When the curtain opened, it seemed the statue had disappeared, but in reality, the audience's view was blocked by one of the columns. The article also mentions that Copperfield used very bright lights to "nightblind" the audience. Those magicians are a tricky lot, eh?

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can watch the trick again. More than 20 years later, it's still pretty amazing.

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