How David Copperfield Pulled Off His Largest Trick & The Famous Director that Reluctantly Helped

The Magic of David Copperfield V. TV special broadcast April 8, 1983. Guest star Michele Lee and illusionist David Copperfield. David Copperfield will attempt to make the Statue of Liberty disappear
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In April 1983, magician David Copperfield set out to do his largest and most impressive trick yet. He made the Statue of Liberty disappear in front of a live audience and the whole stunt aired on television with a reported 50 million viewers tuning in. The trick appeared as part of a special live show called The Magic of David Copperfield but he didn’t manage to execute it without a hitch without any help. He had to get permission from the United States government and had some help from filmmaker Frank Capra.

Capra is best known for being a producer of films such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. When Copperfield came to him, he wanted no part in the trick. Copperfield explained, “I spent four hours with him trying to convince [Capra] that it’s about the fragility of freedom, that we have to vanish the Statue of Liberty to kind of show symbolically how we can take it for granted too much.” Eventually, he relented and helped him write the script for the show even though he thought Copperfield was going to fail.

Front view of the Statue Of Liberty, New York

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If you remember watching the illusion live, have you ever figured out how he did it? Several years ago, it was explained how he did the unthinkable. Turns out that he moved the live audience, not the statute. While he was explaining things to the audience, they were being moved on a rotating platform ever so slightly. By the time a curtain went up and came down, revealing an empty space where people thought the statue was, the audience was actually facing one of the nearby pillars that were hiding the statue.

Illusionist David Copperfield attends the 14th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Weylin B. Seymour's on November 6, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York

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The trick took about six months to design and test with a team of experts and technicians. Copperfield said it took another six months to get permission from authorities to pull it off. It was a big risk but it paid off. Do you remember watching this illusion live?

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