David Copperfield says he'll restore 15th star on historic US flag
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David Copperfield is attempting to pull off a magical feat of historic proportions — making the 15th star on the Smithsonian’s famed Star-Spangled Banner reappear.

The famed magician — who in 1983 earned international headlines for making the Statue of Liberty vanish and return — is now setting his sights on an illusion that would replace the star on the National Museum of American History’s gargantuan original flag from the War of 1812. The illusion is poised to take place on Flag Day, June 14, just before an annual citizen naturalization ceremony at the museum.

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“The illusion is part of a bigger idea. All my illusions have an intent to say something with them,” Copperfield tells ITK.

The flag housed by the Smithsonian — which flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore — inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the national anthem. Following the battle, it remained with Lt. Col. George Armistead’s family for generations.

“No one really knows when the 15th star was cut out, but we do know that the family gave away parts of the flag, and people asked for parts of the flag as gifts to commemorate the War of 1812,” explains Anthea Hartig, the museum’s director.

A longtime history lover and the descendant of immigrants — Copperfield’s father’s family came from Russia and his mother from Israel — the New Jersey-born magic pro says hearing the story of the missing star inspired the upcoming event.

“When I heard that the 15th star has been gone for over a century, I went, ‘OK, now you’re in my world.’ I love solving mysteries or having the illusion of blending fact and fiction to try to have a message that resonates in some way,” Copperfield says.

“Those 15 stars and 15 stripes represented the states at that time of our union. And that missing piece kind of separates one of the states from them,” he says. Making the absent star reappear, Copperfield says, “could remind us of the strength we draw from each other when we are united.”

While he says he isn’t making a political statement, Copperfield, 62, adds that the message behind his latest endeavor is particularly relevant in a hyperpartisan political climate.

“I don’t get political with it, but there are certain things you can’t question.” The country, he says, is better because of the “tapestry of different individuals, different talents, different cultures.”

So if his illusion proves a success, will Copperfield actually be changing the course of history?

“If I do my job, the 15th star will come back — in a metaphorical sense that’s for sure,” Copperfield replies.

Hartig says a “master illusionist” like Copperfield “can take part in the magic of civics in a way because he really believes so powerfully in the promise of America.”

Asked if he could work his magic on any other parts of the nation’s capital — such as an illusion to make Congress get along or improve President TrumpDonald John TrumpTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: study Tariffs threaten 1.5m jobs: Study Trump says he'll meet with dictators if it helps the US MORE’s relationship with the press — Copperfield responds with a chuckle, “People have made many requests for me to vanish things in Washington.”

“There are things that are possible and things that are impossible. But it’s always worth a try.”