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2003: David Blaine ends glass box stunt
The American illusionist David Blaine has his feet back on solid ground after ending 44 days suspended in a glass box by the River Thames in London without food.

The feat of endurance has attracted huge crowds over the last six weeks, and an estimated 10,000 people were there to see him come out.

There was little sign of the "Blaine-baiters" who have dogged the entertainer for the duration of his stunt, jeering, throwing eggs and cutting his water supply.

At 2200 BST the crane which has held the perspex box above the river since 5 September slowly lowered it to the waiting fans, and it was tipped up gently to help him get out.

Despite apparently going without any food for so long, 30-year-old David Blaine was able to walk from the box, supported by helpers.

Emotional

He looked thin and was clearly emotional.

He broke down in tears as he told the waiting crowd, "This has been one of the most important experiences in my life."

The magician has described suffering severe heart palpitations, blurred vision and breathing difficulties as his fast neared its end.

He was put on a stretcher by paramedics and taken to a private hospital, where a team of doctors will assess whether he has done lasting damage to his heart or other organs.

His spokesman said he would now gradually build up his strength with mineral supplements.

It is thought it could take as long as six months for Mr Blaine to recover and return to normal fitness.

'No trickery'

His stunt has attracted praise and contempt in equal measures.

Christine Hunt, 44, who travelled from Doncaster in Yorkshire, said, "We've already been down once to see him and I think it's brilliant, what he's doing."

But others have taunted him relentlessly, even sending a burger up to the box on a remote-controlled helicopter.

Mr Blaine's team has dismissed suggestions that he has kept himself alive by having dissolved nutrients such as glucose added to his water supply.

The stunt is the latest in a series of bizarre challenges the magician has set himself.

Previous stunts include standing on a 100ft pole for 35 hours, living for a week buried six feet down in a glass tank, and encasing himself in a six-tonne block of ice for more than 60 hours.

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David Blaine
David Blaine looked thin and was clearly emotional as he left the box


In Context
David Blaine took his first solid food - a handful of crisps - five days later, and was released from hospital the same day.

In interviews during his recovery, he said the only time he considered abandoning his self-imposed starvation was when a man climbed up nearby scaffolding and cut his water supply.

Nutritional expert Professor Jeremy Powell-Tuck, drafted in to provide medical care for David Blaine after his release, said he lost almost 30% of his body weight during the stunt and was suffering from malnutrition when he emerged.

Professor Powell-Tuck said the stunt would help inform treatment of malnutrition in hospitals and nursing homes.

David Blaine has insisted that despite people questioning his sanity, he intends to carry on with his death-defying tricks and illusions.

Almost three weeks later, he announced his next challenge - jumping hundreds of feet from a helicopter into a river.

But the stunt, originally planned for April 2004, has never materialised.

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