Early yearsCopperfield was born David Seth Kotkin in Metuchen, New Jersey, the son of parents, Rebecca Kotkin (née Gispan; 1924–2008), an insurance adjuster, and Hyman Kotkin (1922–2006), who owned and operated Korby's, a men's haberdashery in Warren, New Jersey. Copperfield's mother was born in Jerusalem while his paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from the USSR (present-day ). In 1974, Copperfield graduated from Metuchen High School. When Copperfield was 10, he began practicing magic as "Davino the Boy Magician" in his neighborhood, and at age 12, he became the youngest person admitted to the Society of American Magicians. Shy and a loner, the young Copperfield saw magic as a way to fit in and, later, to meet women. As a child, Copperfield attended Camp Harmony, a day camp in nearby Warren, New Jersey, where he began practicing magic and ventriloquism, an experience to which he credits his creative style. "At Camp Harmony, we spent two weeks searching for a guide who'd been kidnapped by Indians. It was just a game, but I was living it. My whole life goes back to that camp experience when I was three or four." As a teenager, Copperfield became fascinated with Broadway and frequently sneaked into shows, especially musicals featuring the work of Stephen Sondheim or Bob Fosse. By age 16, he was teaching a course in magic at .
Career and business interestsAt age 18, Copperfield enrolled at New York City's Jesuit-based Fordham University, but three weeks into his freshman year he left to play the lead role in the musical ''The Magic Man'' in Chicago. It was on this occasion that he adopted the stage name "David Copperfield", taken from the famous because he liked the sound of it. Copperfield sang, danced and created most of the original illusions used in the show. ''The Magic Man'' became the longest-running musical in Chicago's history. At age 19, he created and headlined for several months the first "Magic of David Copperfield" at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii with the help of Audio/Lighting Designer Willy Martin.David Copperfield Bio
International Museum and Library of the Conjuring ArtsCopperfield owns the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, which houses the world's largest collection of historically significant magic memorabilia, books and artifacts. Begun in 1991 when Copperfield purchased the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts, which contained the world's largest collection of Houdini memorabilia, the museum comprises approximately 80,000 items, including Houdini's Water Torture Cabinet and Metamorphosis Trunk, Orson Welles' Buzz Saw illusion, and automata created by Robert-Houdin. Copperfield's 1991 Mulholland purchase, which formed the core of his collection, engendered criticism from some magicians. One told a reporter, "David Copperfield buying the Mulholland Library is like an Elvis impersonator winding up with Graceland."Singer, M. (April 5, 1993). Secrets of the Magus
Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield BayIn 2006, Copperfield bought eleven Bahamian islands called Musha Cay. Renamed "The Islands of Copperfield Bay", the islands are a private resort. Guests have reportedly included Oprah Winfrey and John Travolta. Google co-founder Sergey Brin was married there. Copperfield has said that the islands may contain the Fountain of Youth, a claim that resulted in him receiving a Dubious Achievement Award from ''Esquire Magazine'' in 2006.
"Magic Underground" restaurant''David Copperfield's Magic Underground'' was planned to be a restaurant based on Copperfield's magic. At Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, a sign on Hollywood Boulevard during the late 1990s indicated the restaurant was coming soon. Signs also appeared around Pleasure Island (Walt Disney World Resort), Pleasure Island and outside Disney-MGM Studios. A Magic Underground restaurant was also to open in New York's Times Square. Plans included eventual expansion into Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as well as Paris and Tokyo. The restaurants were to have magic props and other items on the walls; magicians would go around to tables doing sleight of hand tricks. There was also to be a larger stage for larger stunts. The restaurant in Times Square was 85% completed, but amid disputes between the creative team and the financial team and enormous cost overruns, finances dried up from the investors, the project was canceled, and Disney canceled the lease. Copperfield was not an investor in the project; the investors reportedly lost $34 million, and subcontractors placed $15 million in liens.
Recorded message for expanded gambling in MarylandIn October 2012, Maryland residents received a robocall from Copperfield supporting a ballot initiative that would expand gambling in the state.
Accidents and injuriesOn March 11, 1984, while rehearsing an illusion called "Escape From Death" where he was shackled and handcuffed in a tank of water, Copperfield became tangled in the chains and started taking in water and banging into the sides of the tank. He was pulled from the water after 80 seconds, hyperventilation, hyperventilating and in shock (circulatory), shock, taken to a Burbank, California, Burbank hospital, and found to have pulled tendons in arms and legs. He was in a wheelchair for a week and used a cane for a period thereafter. While doing a rope trick at a show in Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis in 1989, Copperfield accidentally cut off the tip of his finger with sharp scissors. He was rushed to the hospital and the fingertip was reattached. On December 17, 2008, during a live performance in Las Vegas, a 26-year-old assistant named Brandon was sucked into the spinning blades of a high industrial fan that Copperfield walks through. The assistant sustained multiple fractures to his arm, severe bleeding, and facial lacerations that required stitches. Copperfield canceled the rest of the performance and offered the audience members refunds.
Las Vegas ResidencyCopperfield is currently performing daily, with 15 shows scheduled each week, at the David Copperfield theater in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Each show is 90 minutes in duration.
LitigationOn July 11, 1994, Copperfield sued magician and author Herbert L. Becker in order to prevent publication of Becker's book which reveals how magicians perform their illusions. Becker won the lawsuit but, because of a secrecy agreement Becker signed with Copperfield and an independent finding that Becker's description of Copperfield's methods was inaccurate, the publisher removed the section on Copperfield from the book before publication. In 1997, Becker sued Copperfield and Lifetime Books for $50 million for breach of contract between himself and Lifetime Books, the publisher of his book ''All the Secrets of Magic Revealed''. Copperfield settled at the last moment and the publisher lost during the court trial. In 1997, Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer sued ''Paris Match'' for $30 million after the magazine claimed their relationship was a sham, that Schiffer was paid for pretending to be Copperfield's fiancée and that she did not even like him. In 1999, they won an undisclosed sum and a retraction from ''Paris Match''. Herbert L. Becker, whom Copperfield asked to testify to the validity of the relationship, did so. Copperfield's publicist confirmed that Schiffer had a contract to appear in the audience at Copperfield's show in Berlin where they met but was not under contract to be his "consort". On August 25, 2000, Copperfield unsuccessfully sued Fireman's Fund Insurance Company for reimbursement of a $506,343 ransom paid to individuals in Russia who had commandeered the entertainer's equipment there. In 2004, John Melk, co-founder of Blockbuster Inc., and previous owner of Musha Cay, sued Copperfield for fraud after Copperfield purchased the island chain, alleging that Copperfield had deliberately obscured his identity during the purchase and that he would not have sold the island to Copperfield. Copperfield claimed that Melk had agreed to sell the property to Copperfield's Imagine Nation Company, and that Copperfield negotiated the deal through a third party because he feared Melk was "seeking to exploit" Copperfield's celebrity status by demanding an unfair price. The case was settled in 2006. The terms of the settlement are undisclosed. On November 6, 2007, Viva Art International Ltd and Maz Concerts Inc. sued Copperfield for nearly $2.2 million for breach of contract and the Indonesian promoter of Copperfield's canceled shows in Jakarta held on to $550,000 worth of Copperfield's equipment in lieu of money paid to Copperfield that had not been returned. Copperfield countersued, and the dispute was resolved in July 2009. In 2018, a lawsuit alleging that a British tourist and audience member Gavin Cox was injured during a November 2013 performance, was resolved in Copperfield's favor. He was found "not liable."
Sexual assault allegationsCopperfield was accused of sexual assault in 2007 by Lacey L. Carroll. A federal grand jury in Seattle closed the investigation in January 2010 without bringing charges. In January 2010, the Bellevue City Prosecutor's Office brought misdemeanor charges against Carroll for prostitution and allegedly making a false accusation of rape in another case. Carroll filed a civil lawsuit against Copperfield, which was dropped in April 2010. In January 2018, Copperfield was accused of drugging and assaulting a teenager in 1988. Copperfield published a statement in response on January 24, 2018.
Personal lifeIn 1993 at a Berlin celebrity gala Copperfield met German supermodel Claudia Schiffer when he brought her on stage to participate in a mind-reading act and his flying illusion, and in January 1994 they became engaged. During the engagement, Schiffer sometimes appeared on stage with Copperfield to act as his special guest assistant in illusions including being Sawing a woman in half, sawn in half. She also appeared alongside Copperfield in ''David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic'' (1994), a documentary in which she played the role of a reporter interviewing him, and at the end of which they reprised their performance of the "Flying" illusion. After a nearly six-year engagement, in September 1999 they announced their separation, citing work schedules. In April 2006, he and two female assistants were robbed at gunpoint after a performance in West Palm Beach, Florida. His assistants handed over their money, passports, and a cell phone. According to his police statement, Copperfield did not hand over anything, claiming that he used sleight of hand to hide his possessions, although later admitting that doing so was "very stupid. It was a reflex that could have got me shot". One of the assistants wrote down most of the license plate number, and the suspects were later arrested, charged, and sentenced. Copperfield's girlfriend Chloe Gosselin, a French fashion model 28 years his junior, gave birth to his daughter, Sky, in February 2010. This did not become public until ''The New York Post'' reported it in August 2011. Copperfield has two other children, a son, Dylan Jacob Kotkin and a daughter, Audrey Anna Kotkin. In July 2016, Copperfield purchased a mansion at 1625 Enclave Court in Las Vegas's affluent Summerlin, Nevada, Summerlin community for $17.55 million.
Earnings''Forbes'' magazine reported that Copperfield earned $55 million in 2003, making him the tenth highest paid celebrity in the world (earnings figures are pre-tax and before deductions for agents' and attorneys' fees, etc.). He earned $57 million in 2004 and 2005, and $30 million in 2009 in entertainment earnings, according to ''Forbes''. Copperfield performs over 500 shows per year throughout the world.
Charitable activitiesIn March 1982, Copperfield founded Project Magic, a rehabilitation program to help disabled patients regain lost or damaged dexterity skills by using sleight of hand as physical therapy. The program has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, and is in use in over 1100 hospitals in 30 countries. Copperfield made an appearance on Oprah Radio in April 2008 to talk with host Mehmet Oz, Dr. Mehmet Oz about how magic can help disabled people. In 2007, he organized and performed at a charity show for UNICEF in Los Angeles, along with a number of celebrity guests. During the show, he used his ex-Orson Welles Buzz Saw illusion to saw British TV presenter Cat Deeley in half.
Achievements and awards* The Society of American Magicians, "Magician of the Century" and "King of Magic" * Copperfield has been nominated 38 times for Emmy Awards, with 21 wins. * Copperfield received a Library of Congress Living Legend, Living Legend Award from the . * Copperfield is the first living magician to receive a star on the . * Copperfield received the Order of Arts and Letters, Chevalier of Arts and Letters, the first one ever awarded to a magician. * He was named "Magician of the Year" in 1979 and 1986 by the Academy of Magical Arts. * ''Forbes''s "The Celebrity 100" for 2009 ranks Copperfield as the 80th most powerful celebrity, with earnings of $30 million. * He was inducted into New York City's Ride of Fame on September 11, 2015.
Guinness World RecordsCopperfield holds 11 Guinness World Records, including: * Most magic shows performed in a year * Most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer * Highest career earnings as a magician * Largest international television audience for a magician * Highest annual earnings for a magician (current year) * Largest Broadway attendance in a week * Largest magic work archive * Most expensive poster depicting magic sold at auction * Largest illusion ever staged
Television specials# ''The Magic of ABC'' (September 7, 1977) (With special guests Fred Berry, Shaun Cassidy, Howard Cosell, Kate Jackson, Hal Linden, Penny Marshall, Kristy McNichol, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, Parker Stevenson, Dick Van Patten, Adam Rich, Abe Vigoda and Cindy Williams) # ''The Magic of David Copperfield'' (October 27, 1978) (With special guests Orson Welles, Carl Ballantine, Valerie Bertinelli, Sherman Hemsley, Bernadette Peters and Cindy Williams) #* 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork # ''The Magic of David Copperfield II'' (October 24, 1979) (With special guest Bill Bixby, Loni Anderson, Valerie Bertinelli, Robert Stack and Alan Alan) #* 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork # ''The Magic of David Copperfield III: Levitating Ferrari'' (September 25, 1980) (With special guest Jack Klugman, Debby Boone, Mary Crosby, Louis Nye, Shimada, Cindy Williams and David Mendenhall). #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction; Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork # ''The Magic of David Copperfield IV: The Vanishing Airplane'' (October 26, 1981) (With special guest Jason Robards, Susan Anton, Audrey Landers, Catherine Bach, David Mendenhall, Barnard Hughes, Clark Brandon and Elaine Joyce) The last illusion, ''Lear Jet Vanish'', has been filmed in long take at the Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, California #* 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork # ''The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears'' (April 8, 1983) (With special guests Morgan Fairchild, Michele Lee, Eugene Levy, William B. Williams (DJ), William B. Williams and Lynne Griffin) # ''The Magic of David Copperfield VI: Floating Over the Grand Canyon'' (April 6, 1984) (With special guests Ricardo Montalban, Bonnie Tyler and Heather Thomas). The extended international version featured an additional 10 minutes of performance, including Tyler being sawed in half by Copperfield. #* 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Technical Direction/Camerawork/Video for a Limited Series or a Special #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction; Outstanding Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects for a Limited Series or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield VII: Familiares'' (March 8, 1985) (With special guests Angie Dickinson, Teri Copley, Omri Katz and Peggy Fleming) #* 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control for a Limited Series or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield VIII: Walking Through the Great Wall of China'' (March 14, 1986) (With special guest Ben Vereen) – This is the only special that was filmed outside the United States. At the end of the special, Copperfield says that he hopes this will be the first of many "magical journeys", announcing that the following year's special will take place in Egypt; however the political situation in Egypt changed his plans #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control for a Miniseries or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield IX: The Escape From Alcatraz'' (March 13, 1987) (With special guest Ann Jillian) – the television show used the soundtrack of ''Back to the Future'', unedited and in its entirety, something for which the show was later lampooned. #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Miniseries or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield X: The Bermuda Triangle'' (March 12, 1988) (With special guest Lisa Hartman) Filmed at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control for a Miniseries or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XI: Explosive Encounter'' (March 3, 1989) (With special guest Emma Samms) Filmed at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California #* 2 Emmy Wins: Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Series, Miniseries or a Special #* 2 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XII: The Niagara Falls Challenge'' (March 30, 1990) (With special guest Kim Alexis and Penn & Teller) Filmed at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California #* 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Miniseries or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XIII: Mystery On The Orient Express'' (April 9, 1991) (With special guest Jane Seymour (actress), Jane Seymour) Filmed in part at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa Bay, Florida and the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon. #* 4 Emmy Wins: Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects; Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Series, Miniseries or a Special; Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Miniseries or a Special #* 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Multi-Camera Production # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XIV: F·L·Y·I·N·G – Live The Dream'' (March 31, 1992) (With special guest James Earl Jones and a special appearance by the late Orson Welles) Filmed at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida #* 3 Emmy Win: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Multi-Camera Production; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Series, Miniseries or a Special # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XV: Fires Of Passion'' (March 12, 1993) (With special guest Wayne Gretzky) Filmed in part at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Valley, Las Vegas and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa Bay, Florida #* 3 Emmy Win: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Multi-Camera Production; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Miniseries or a Special # ''David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic'' (May 12, 1994) (With special guest Claudia Schiffer as "The Reporter", and appearances of various guests from previous specials via archive footage, as James Earl Jones and Joanie Spina). In the international version, in addition to reprising their "Flying" illusion, Copperfield and Schiffer also reprised the performance of the ''Clearly Impossible'' illusion from Copperfield's stage shows in which Schiffer was sawed in half inside a transparent box. #* 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Multi-Camera Production # ''The Magic of David Copperfield XVI: Unexplained Forces'' (May 1, 1995) – Filmed at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa Bay, Florida #* 3 Emmy Wins: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special – Multi-Camera Production; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Drama Series, Variety Program, Miniseries or a Special; Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Miniseries or a Special #* 2 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program; Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special # ''David Copperfield: the great escapes'' (April 26, 2000) # ''Copperfield – Tornado of Fire'' (April 3, 2001) (With special guests Carson Daly and, only in the international version, Whoopi Goldberg. Carson Daly was replaced by :nl:Hans Kazan, Hans Kazàn in the Dutch version and :it:Marco Berry, Marco Berry in the Italian version) – Filmed in January 2001 in a theatre in the round, surrounded stage at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee, and a Live television, live (in USA only) tornado stunt performed at Pier 94 in New York City, NY (North America version 60 minutes, European version 90 minutes) #* 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program
Worldwide tours* The Magic of David Copperfield: Live on Stage (1983–1986) * The Magic of David Copperfield: Radical New Illusions (1987–1989) * David Copperfield: Magic for the 90's (1990–1994) * David Copperfield: Beyond Imagination (a.k.a. The Best of David Copperfield) (1995–1996) * David Copperfield: Dreams and Nightmares (a.k.a. The Magic is Back) (1996–1998) * David Copperfield: Journey of a Lifetime (a.k.a. U!) (1999–2000) * David Copperfield: Unknown Dimension (a.k.a. Global Encounter) (2000–2001) * David Copperfield: Portal (2001–2002) * David Copperfield: An Intimate Evening Of Grand Illusion (a.k.a. World of Wonders) (2003–present)
Plans for new illusionsCopperfield declared that among the new illusions he plans to create, he wants to put a woman's face on Mount Rushmore, straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa and even vanish the moon. He also wants to make an island disappear.
Filmography* ''Terror Train'' (1980) as The Magician * ''Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'' (1997) as himself * ''Scrubs (TV series), Scrubs'', episode "My Lucky Day (Scrubs episode), My Lucky Day" (2002) as himself * Oh My God (2009 film), ''Oh My God'' (2009) as himself * ''America's Got Talent'' (2010) as himself * ''The Simpsons'', episode "The Great Simpsina" (2011) as himself (voice) * ''Wizards of Waverly Place'', episode "Harperella" (2011) as himself * ''Burt Wonderstone'' (2013) as himself * ''The Amazing Race 24'' (2014) * ''American Restoration'' (2014) * ''Unity (film), Unity'' (2015) as narrator * ''7 Days in Hell'' (2015) as himself
Popular illusionsCreated and/or performed by Copperfield: * David Copperfield's laser illusion, Laser illusion * Portal (magic trick), Portal * Walking Through the Great Wall of China * Death Saw * David Copperfield's flying illusion, Flying illusion * Squeeze box (magic trick), Squeeze box
See also* American Museum of Magic * Congressional Resolution 642 * Joanie Spina * List of magic museums
External links* *