In 1983, David Copperfield did the amazing. With a live audience present, he created the illusion that the Statue of Liberty had vanished. It looked so real that it baffled all the attendees who had been standing there the whole time, witnessing everything. But how did he do it?
It was a breathtaking episode on CBS called The Magic of David Copperfield V, otherwise known as The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears. If you remember 1983 or can imagine a time with no Photoshop or deep fake video capabilities, David Copperfield made a huge promise to the world that he could do the impossible.
I remember the hype that went on for at least a few weeks. I couldn’t wait to watch it happen, and when it did, I sat back in my seat dumbfounded, trying to figure out how he did it. Of course, I knew it was an illusion. The Statue of Liberty had not magically been moved to another place or actually vanished into thin air. But I was calculating everything from the audience’s reaction to the state of the art of trick photography at the time. How in the world did something that huge just disappear?
It was a memorable moment for everyone who witnessed it, and if you weren’t there, here’s that moment…
Since then, there has been plenty of speculation. But no one came forward right off the bat. I’m not even sure who finally did come forward to break the silence. The fact of the matter is, we know now how he did it.
Of course, someone had to know other than the illusionist himself. The disappearance of the Statue of Liberty is too huge of an undertaking for only one man to know how. At one time, I thought the audience might have been in on it. Now, I know they weren’t.
They were legitimately just as duped as everyone else watching from our homes. It took quite a bit of planning and a thorough knowledge of math, but now it all makes sense. The answer is that the platform the audience was on was shifted just right so that the Statue of Liberty was hidden behind the huge scaffolding structure that was constructed to hold up a very large sheet designed to cover the audience’s view for nearly two minutes until it was dropped and the historical landmark was gone from sight.
This trick catapulted David Copperfield to a level of celebrity he had never known before. Great illusionists have come and gone, and now Mr. Copperfield is legitimately listed among them.