David Copperfield is possibly the world's most famous magician and illusionist. Born as David Seth Kotkin in New Jersey in 1956, he took the stage name David Copperfield at the age of 18. Since 1978, he has had a total of 17 TV specials, and regularly performs over…more
In the 2009 Forbes "The Celebrity 100" list, he was ranked 80th, with earnings of $30 Million.
During a live stage performance in Las Vegas on December 17th 2008, one of David's assistants was accidentally sucked into the blades of a large industrial fan that David walked through in one of his illusions. The assistant suffered multiple fractures and lacerations, and David cancelled the rest of his performance as a result of this accident, offering the audience a refund.
In 2009, he made a rare live TV appearance at the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, during which he performed two illusions with singer Taylor Swift. In the first of these, he made her appear inside an apparently empty glass-sided elevator as it descended from the auditorium roof, while in the second he sawed her in half in his "Clearly Impossible" illusion.
In 1997, David and Claudia Schiffer jointly sued Paris Match magazine after it claimed their relationship was simply a publicity stunt. Initially claiming damages of $30 Million, the case was settled in 1999 when they were awarded an undisclosed sum and the magazine published a retraction of their claim.
He has twice been named "Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts.
His favorite movies include Citizen Kane and The Wizard of Oz.
In April 2006, David and two of his female assistants were the victims of a gunpoint robbery following his show in West Palm Beach, FL. One of David's assistants managed to write down most of the license plate of the car used by the robbers, who were later arrested and jailed.
In May 2001, he entertained guests at a White House benefit for UNICEF by performing an illusion in which he sawed Jennifer Lopez into six pieces.
He holds a total of eleven Guinness World Records, including the largest private collection of magic artifacts, largest illusion ever staged, highest Broadway gross in a week and most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer.
In 1984, while practising an escape from a tank of water, he became entangled in the chains restraining him, was unable to escape, and began to take in water. He was pulled from the tank by his assistants after 80 seconds, suffering from shock, and rushed to hospital. Following this incident, he had to spend a week in a wheelchair due to pulled tendons in his arms and legs, and then had to walk with a cane for several more weeks afterwards.
In 2006, he bought a group of islands in the Bahamas called Musha Cay, which he renamed "The Islands of Copperfield Bay" and opened as a private resort. The reported cost of hiring the islands is around $325,000 per week for groups of up to 24 people.
His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine.
The "Clearly Impossible" version of the sawing a woman in half illusion that David used to perform on fiancé Claudia Schiffer when she joined him in his shows as a special guest assistant has sometimes been voted as the most baffling version of the illusion ever performed. The reason it was considered so baffling was because not only did the box used to cover Claudia have completely transparent sides, allowing the audience to see her inside it, but also because while one audience member helped David saw through Claudia using a two-person saw, a second audience member held onto Claudia's feet from before she was covered by the box until after she'd been sawed through and her halves had been separated.
He owns a large collection of magic memorabilia and antique illusions including the Buzz Saw version of the sawing a woman in half illusion that Orson Welles used to saw Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe in half. He maintains the illusion in full working order, and has used it to saw in half a number of guest celebrity "assistants" including Claudia Schiffer, Cat Deeley and Penelope Cruz.
David bares a scar on his bottom after a mishap while appearing on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien show. A device used in his performance backfired, setting his pants on fire.
David first met Claudia Schiffer in 1993 when she attended a charity show he was giving in Berlin, during which she was invited on stage to take part in his "Flying" illusion. A month later, they both appeared on a talk show on German TV. During this appearance, David and the show's host sawed Claudia in half. While she was in half, David asked her for a date and refused to put her back together again until she agreed. Three months later, they became engaged, and married the following year. While they were married, Claudia sometimes acted as David's special guest assistant in his stage shows, taking part in a number of illusions including being sawed in half.
Some of David's greatest magic tricks have included making the Statue of Liberty "disappear," "walking through" the Great Wall of China, and "levitating" over the Grand Canyon.
At one time, he was ready to open a themed restaurant in Walt Disney World called "Magic Underground." However, the project ran into trouble and the idea was scrapped.
He has been featured on the cover of Forbes, Esquire, and Architectural Digest.
As of June 2007, David is the 7th highest paid entertainer in the world.
He starred in "Dreams and Nightmares," a Broadway show that would go on to set box-office records.
David performs over 500 shows around the world per year.
In 1994, David married German supermodel Claudia Schiffer. They divorced in 1999 after five years of marriage.
In 1982, he founded "Project Magic," a rehabilitation program to help disabled patients regain lost or damaged dexterity skills. The program is now in use in over 1,000 hospitals around the world after being accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Two of David's favorite movies are The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane.
He started his magician career billed as "Davino, Boy Magician."
David has twice been named "Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts. He received the recognitions in 1980 and 1987.
At the mere age of 16, David was a Professor of Magic at New York University.
David is the founder of The International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts.
David was the first magician to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
David's face appears on postage stamps in six different countries.
His favorite color is black.
David is recognized by Guinness World Records as the Most Awarded Magician in history.
David became the youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians when he was admitted at the age of 12.
He stands 6' tall.
David is convinced he's found the fountain youth on an island he bought in the Bahamas for $65 million.
David Copperfield was knighted by the French Government, was named a living legend, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
David: (speaking in the 1990s about buying the Buzz Saw illusion built for Orson Welles) The first thing Claudia asked me when she saw it was 'Does it still work?' When I told her that it did, she smiled and said 'Let's try it out!' That surprised me a little, as it's a scary illusion, and before I could say anything, she'd climbed onto the table, stretched herself out below the blade, and was strapping herself in ready to be sawn in half. I couldn't believe how eager she was to try it out, but I also couldn't resist the opportunity to use it to saw her in half. And she loved the experience so much, she even suggested putting it in my show, but I told her it was just too precious for that.
David: Creating a new illusion is like writing a song, sometimes the lyrics come first and sometimes it's the music. Sometimes I'll dream a great concept and find out a way to make it a reality and use it in my show.
David: I know I have done some wild things over the years, from levitating over the Grand Canyon and tumbling over Niagara Falls to being suspended from a burning rope high over fiery steel spikes in straitjackets. Sometimes looking back over my career one goes, "What were you thinking?!" I am constantly challenging myself and with that goes some degree of risk.
David: (Talking about the accidents he's had while rehearsing and performing) The one incident I will never forget is when I cut the tip of my finger off. You have to understand that I am the person who went over Niagara Falls on a raft and survived. Here I am onstage in Atlantic City doing a rope trick with a pair of scissors, and I end up going to the hospital.
David: My idols were Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and Orson Welles and Walt Disney ... they took their individual art forms and they moved people with them ... I wanted to do the same thing with magic. I wanted to take magic and make it romantic and make it sexy and make it funny and make it goofy ... all the different things that a songwriter gets to express or a filmmaker gets to express ....
David: (On working with Claudia Schiffer in his magic shows) I really love having Claudia with me in my shows. She's a great performer and a real natural with the illusions. And she's really trusting too - It's not every woman who'll trust someone like me enough to let me strap her to a guillotine and chop her head off. But the best thing about having her in my shows is that I can say that I spend my evenings sawing the most beautiful woman in the world in half.
David: The real secret of magic lies in the performance.
David: I'm just waiting for people to start asking me to make the rain disappear.
David (convinced he's found the fountain youth): You can take dead leaves and when they come in contact with the water, they become full of life. Bugs or insects that are near death come in contact with the water and fly away. It's amazing.