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August 26, 1989
Oprah’s Head Transplant
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.
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March 31, 1989
The Disappearing Coke Can
An editor digitally removed a Coke can from this front-page image because he felt it ruined the composition of the photo.
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Mar. 3, 1988
Sinking Bus
This image looks bizarre, but it's real! A Number 26 double-decker bus fell into a hole on Earlham Road in Norwich, UK. The hole had been created by a collapsing chalk mine beneath the road. No one was hurt. An unknown photographer then took this picture. The picture was subsequently used by Cadbury's to promote their "Double Decker" chocolate bar, with the tagline "Nothing fills a hole like a Double Decker."
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February 1982
The Case of the Moving Pyramids
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.
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Yeah Eckerd
The news photographer staged the scene by having a fan write the phrase "Yeah Eckerd" on the soles of his feet.
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Francis Hetling’s Victorian Waifs
These photos of Victorian-era street children turned out to be modern frauds.
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May 4, 1970
The Missing Pole
This photo of a young woman screaming with grief over the body of a shot student at Kent State University is one of the most famous images of the 20th Century. But in the original version of the photo, a fence pole was positioned directly behind the head of the woman. Sometime an unknown photo editor airbrushed it out.
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October 20, 1967
The Bluff Creek Bigfoot
Bigfoot believers claim this is a photo of that elusive North American primate. Skeptics argue it shows a person in an ape suit.
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Gained notoriety in 1967
Ted Serios was a Chicago-area bellhop who claimed he could transfer his thoughts directly onto film. He would create a "thoughtograph" by holding a small tube against a camera lens, and then beaming a thought-image through the tube into the camera. The photo shown here was his thought of an unidentified street scene. Skeptics argued that he probably concealed a photographic transparency inside the tube he held against the camera.
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Published in February 1964
Oswald’s Backyard Photo
Magazines that published this photo of Lee Harvey Oswald retouched portions of it, leading to suspicions that the original image itself was fake. It was not.
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February 1964
The Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Scandinavian Airlines placed an advertisement in newspapers throughout America. It featured a bikini-clad model posing on a rock above the caption "What to show your wife in Scandinavia." But the version that appeared in the Los Angeles Times had one detail altered. The editors of the Times airbrushed out the model's belly button. They said this was done in order to "conform to regulations."
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The Peppered Moth
The many biology textbooks that used this image did not reveal that the moths were dead and glued to the bark.
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Dr. Schweitzer in the Congo
More than thirty years after its initial publication, this famous photo by W. Eugene Smith was discovered to be two photos composited together.
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December 13, 1952
Venusian Scoutcraft
What George Adamski claimed was a photo of a UFO looks suspiciously like a lampshade with ping pong balls glued to it.
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April 1, 1950
The Kiss at City Hall
Robert Doisneau steadfastly maintained that this photo of a couple kissing on a street in Paris was a spontaneous scene, fortuitously caught on film. Until he was sued by two people who claimed to be the couple in the scene. Doisneau then confessed he had staged the scene using professional models, who were not the people suing him.
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ca. 1950
Miss Perfect Profile
The head of a modeling agency added creative captions, such as "Miss Perfect Profile," to the photos of his models in order to get newspapers to print them.
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The Tydings Affair
As payback for a political slight, the staff of Sen. Joseph McCarthy created a photo that appeared to show Sen. Millard Tydings (right) chatting with the head of the American Communist Party (left) — although in reality the two men had not met. They released the photo shortly before a 1950 senate race in which Tydings was running, and it is believed to have contributed to Tydings' defeat in that election.
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May 2, 1945
Red Army Flag Over Reichstag
This photo was both staged and doctored in an attempt to create a Soviet version of the Americans' Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima image.
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