In 1983, David Copperfield, one of the world’s most celebrated magicians performed the greatest magic trick of the 20th century – he made the Statue of Liberty disappear.
Rather than some recorded trick played in front of the audience, David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear right in front of a live audience so there is no saying that he did this seemingly impossible trick with the help of video special effects.
But the big question is, how did David Copperfield make a 310 foot, 225-pound statue vanish in a matter of seconds? Well, you will find out in this article.
David Copperfield Statue of Liberty – The Trick
In the video below, you see David Copperfield crouching beside a large radar machine listening to some audio device. Right behind him are two lateral scaffoldings which have been erected on Liberty Island to hold a curtain in place.
Before he performed the biggest trick of his career, he said,” how precious liberty is and how easily it can be lost”
“I can show with magic how we take our freedom for granted,” he added
With that, a curtain was raised right in front of the statue blocking the audience’s view. When the curtain came down, the Statue of Liberty was gone. For many people in the 1980s, that was the biggest illusion ever. Lady Liberty disappeared in a matter of seconds. But did she?
In reality, the Statue was actually there right behind one of the scaffolding towers. But, how?
David Copperfield Statue of Liberty – The Trick Revealed
Before the audience took to their seats, the location had been prepped. The scaffolding structures or towers had been set up and a platform had been constructed.
To perform the trick David Copperfield simply moved the platform that everyone was on. So instead of the statue is in the middle, it was right in the back of one of the towers away from the view of the audience
So how come the audience didn’t feel the platform moving at the time? In one word, misdirection.
Magicians and mentalists use misdirection to divert the attention of the subject from their actual moves which make their magic happen without you knowing how they did it.
In this case, David Copperfield used loud music to mask the movement of the platform so that the audience won’t know or feel it shift. This movement changed their view of the Statue and voila!, you’ve got magic.
The actual way to know that the platform was moving is by looking at the radar machine right next to David as he performed the trick. Right on the screen, you will see a glare appear as the stage moved.
The radar machine was supposed to tell you where the statue was but as you would expect it was rigged to ensure that the trick was successful.
In 1983, this simple trick was the biggest of the century but all it took was a simple genius move.
David Copperfield – Other Magic Tricks
David Copperfield – Walking Through the Great Wall of China
In 1986, David Copperfield performed yet another unimaginable feat. He walked straight through the Great Wall of China. This trick is another though more impressive performance by David Copperfield in front of a live audience.
In the trick, he enters the Wall from one side and emerges on the other side. He had his audience stand on either side of the wall and over it.
In the trick, a cubic platform raised from the ground is abetted to the wall. The platform is covered by the sheet, and soon after, Copperfield enters it.
Due to the lights, the audience can only see his silhouette which enters the wall. Right after his silhouette vanishes, the sheets are removed showing the platform to be empty.
On the other side of the wall, the assistants place an identical cubic platform on the wall. They go on to put a sheet against the wall. A few seconds later, two hands and a face push against sheet appearing to come from the wall.
The hands and feet recede into the wall and the assistants drop the sheet. They touch the wall to prove to the audience that it is in fact a wall. Then they cover the platform with sheets and move out of it.
Some seconds later, Copperfield’s silhouette can be seen emerging from the wall and into the platform. Then he throws away the sheets and steps out of the platform to reveal himself.
Considering it is impossible to walk through a wall, this is another feat that made him extremely famous and probably one of the greatest magicians alive. The entire trick happened live and with a live audience. During the trick, Copperfield’s heart rate was monitored at all times.
David Copperfield – Escape From Alcatraz
Just like the action-packed series, Prison Break, David Copperfield willingly lets himself be taken to prison in a classic trick known as the Escape of Alcatraz.
If you don’t know Alcatraz was a military prison once thought to be impregnable and inescapable. Though three prisoners Morris and the Anglins once disappeared from its cells, the prison site still maintains its reputation.
For this trick, Copperfield wasn’t just going to escape from the once high-security prison, he was to do so before a bomb detonated and he had only just 2 and a half minutes to make it to safety.
In this trick, he showed exceptional skill. While dressed in a straitjacket and behind prison bars, he was able to escape with the use of three coins and a box. He uses the coins to pick the lock of the prison cell door and conjures a cat from the box which distracts the prison guard dogs giving him time to escape.
In the end, he emerged as a free man, wearing a police uniform and moving to safety in a helicopter.
While making the Statue of Liberty disappear was one of his most amazing tricks, Copperfield still performed many other impressive tricks. He once levitated in front of a live audience though this trick was very easy to explain.
Overall, David Copperfield’s performances have earned him a reputation as one of the world’s famous magicians.