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How David Copperfield ‘repaired’ the Star-Spangled Banner

David Copperfield has made famous landmarks disappear. Ask Lady Liberty what it was like to serve as an assistant for a Copperfield, when he made her vanish on national TV in 1983.

On Flag Day, Copperfield performed a historic reappearing act, returning the missing 15th star to the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” that became the lyrics to the national anthem.

Copperfield performed the trick on June 14 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The event was staged for the naturalization of 15 new American citizens, one for each star on the banner (though, for some unknown reason, only 14 new citizens actually took part in the ceremony).

For a quick history lesson, the flag flew over Fort McHenry in September 1814, site of the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air during the Battle of Baltimore. The flag was donated to the Smithsonian in 1907. Pieces of the flag had been cut away as souvenirs by the family of Lt. Col. George Armistead, and one of the 15 stars was clipped off, given away and never accounted for.

Copperfield stepped in to reconnect the star to the flag, and also to remind the new citizens of the origin of our national anthem. He produced a large, levitating cardboard box, doubling as a time machine, out of which a courier in period garb appeared holding satchel. The courier then took a sheet from that bag, unfurling it to show the long-missing star returned to the blue field.

A clip of the entire five-minute illusion is posted on the National Museum of American History’s YouTube channel.

“I’ve been collaborating with the Smithsonian on some projects, some of which you’ll see in the future,” said Copperfield during a late-night interview Friday for an upcoming episode of PodKats! “They wanted to naturalize 15 citizens to match the 15 stars on the flag, which Francis Scott Key saw flying over Fort McHenry. … And they were telling me about this star, which I knew nothing about, and I thought, ‘A missing star? That’s my bailiwick here. I can make something out of this.’

“It highlighted who we are, what we symbolize and the song that we sing as our national anthem.”

The routine drew a standing ovation from the hundreds assembled, led by the 14 new citizens.

“Those people who were part of that ceremony were very moved,” said Copperfield, who routinely packs his eponymous theater at MGM Grand for 15 shows per week. “It was pretty amazing.”

As they say, set it to music.

Newton thankful

Mr. Las Vegas Wayne Newton took to the courtroom rather than the showroom last week, providing jarring testimony in the conviction of 22-year-old Weslie Martin, found guilty of burglary and home-invasion chargers after breaking into Newton’s home twice in June 2013. Some items stolen from Newton’s were found in Martin’s possession, and others tracked to Martin after they were pawned off.

Newton testified that the family’s Rhodesian Ridgebacks attacked Martin and a second, still-unidentified subject after one of the invaders threatened Newton’s wife, Kathleen, with a crowbar. Newton fired a handgun into the air as the men fled. There were no injuries, but the family was badly shaken.

““For my family and I, it was not easy reliving those horrible days,” Newton said Saturday, a day after the verdict was rendered. “I would like to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, especially (prosecuting attorneys) John Giordani and Jory Scarborough, the judge (Michael Villani) and the jury. We are so grateful that justice has been served.”

More than ‘Friends’

Kaysen Winger added what is known as an “alternative ending” to “Friends! The Musical Parody” on Friday night at the D Las Vegas. Winger proposed to his girlfriend of 2½ years, Kelsey Kost, as the close of the show.

“I chose ‘Friends’ because it is her favorite TV show ever, and once she found out they had a show in Las Vegas, she has been wanting to go for a while,” Winger said. “I knew it would make better memory doing on the set in front of everyone.” The couple live in Vegas, where there are many chapels within walking distance of the D.

What Works in Vegas

Big ups to our buds at Nashville Unplugged on Friday night, celebrating their 10th anniversary in Las Vegas, the past three at Mandalay Bay’s Rhythm & Riffs Lounge. Co-host Aaron Benward (the series creator) and Travis Howard were delivered shots onstage by an interloper in a suit — who turned out to be property president Chuck Bowling.

“We’re here to celebrate 10 years of amazing songwriting and storytelling,” Bowling said from the stage. “A lot of people would celebrate 10 years with a great flute of classic champagne, but not in Nashville! So went out and bought red Solo cups and Jack (expletive) Daniel’s!”

The crowd loved that. If Benward is ever looking for a third co-host …

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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