TV Series Revives Statue of Liberty Gender Question

Debuting tonight at 6 p.m.

The headline of an article this weekend by New York Post deputy TV editor Andrea Morabito reads, “Is Lady Liberty Actually a Dude?” Meanwhile, this morning on Fox & Friends, one of the hosts kicked off a guest segment by similarly asking, “Is Lady Liberty actually a man?”

It all tracks back to journalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s acclaimed book Liberty Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty, published exactly two years ago. Tonight, on the debut episode of Discovery Family Channel’s Secrets of America’s Favorite Places, Mitchell revisits one of her most memorable findings involving the statue’s sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. From Morabito’s piece:

“As I was looking at it more carefully, the structure of the face isn’t really the same,” Mitchell tells the Post. “[Bartholdi’s mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … known for his accuracy.”

“Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

NYU history professor Edward Berenson, director of the school’s Institute of French Studies and also featured in tonight’s Discovery episode, concurs with Mitchell’s theory. He tells Fox & Friends in the clip below: “To me, there’s no way that the Statue of Liberty is male.” Vive la gender-rence!

Other topics in the eight-episode Secrets of America’s Favorite Places will include Mount Rushmore and Alcatraz.