The Museum of Hoaxes
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Time Period: 1980-1999
Yeah Eckerd. (1981) The news photographer staged the scene by having a fan write the phrase "Yeah Eckerd" on the soles of his feet. More…
The Case of the Moving Pyramids. (February 1982) In what became the first high-profile example of digital photo manipulation, National Geographic moved the pyramids slightly closer together to fit within the frame of the cover. More…
The Disappearing Coke Can. (March 31, 1989) An editor digitally removed a Coke can from this front-page image because he felt it ruined the composition of the photo. More…
Oprah’s Head Transplant. (August 26, 1989) Oprah Winfrey appeared on the cover of TV Guide (left) lounging in a gauzy dress on top of a pile of money. She looked glamorous, but only the head belonged to her. The body came from a 1979 publicity shot of Ann-Margret (right) taken for a Rockette special. More…
Madonna’s Gapless Glamour. (December 1990) Madonna got mad when she discovered a photo editor had digitally closed the gap between her front teeth. More…
Missing in Action. (July, 1991) The photo made headlines when it surfaced in July 1991. It appeared to show three American fliers, who had been listed as missing during the Vietnam War, holding a sign with the date 25-5-90. The implication was that the men were still alive somewhere in south-east Asia. But a Pentagon investigation discovered it was actually a doctored version of a 1923 photograph of three Soviet farmers. More…
White Hot Mama. (July 1992) Ann Richards, governor of Texas, appeared on the cover of Texas Monthly in a "Bad Girl" pose astride a white-and-chrome Harley-Davidson. But Richards hadn't posed for the photo because she was unable to schedule time for a photoshoot. Texas Monthly created the shot by combining a stock photo of her head with a picture of a model. Richards later said that she loved the photo. More…
The Disappearing Nipples. (Jan/Feb 1994) A photo of Kate Moss taken by celebrity portraitist Sante D'Orazio appeared on the July 19, 1993 cover of Australia's Who Weekly magazine. Six months later, the same photo appeared on the cover of American Photo. But careful readers spotted a difference. Moss's nipples had disappeared. In response to queries, American Photo explained it had digitally removed her nipples "as a matter of taste." More…
Fire on Ice. (Feb 16, 1994) Harding and Kerrigan were seen skating together on this Newsday cover, but the scene never occurred in real life. More…
O.J.‘s Darkened Mug Shot. (June 27, 1994) When Time magazine used a mug shot of O.J. Simpson on its June 27th cover (left), it darkened the photo and reduced the size of the prisoner ID number. However, Newsweek ran the same mug shot on its cover (right) that week, without altering it. The two covers appeared side-by-side on newsstands, making Time's decision to darken the photo far more visible. Critics charged Time with racism. More…
Tootsie Redressed. (Mar 1997 issue of Los Angeles magazine) Dustin Hoffman sued Los Angeles magazine for $5 million on account of this photo of his head pasted onto the body of a model wearing a silk gown. More…
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.