David Copperfield (illusionist)
|Born||David Seth Kotkin
September 16, 1956
Metuchen, New Jersey, United States
|Partner(s)||Claudia Schiffer (1993–1999)
Chloe Gosselin (2006–present)
Copperfield's television specials have won 21 Emmy Awards of a total 38 nominations. Best known for his combination of storytelling and illusion, Copperfield’s career of over 30 years has earned him 11 Guinness World Records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a knighthood by the French government; and he has been named a Living Legend by the US Library of Congress.
When not performing, he creates experiences for his chain of eleven islands in the Bahamas – Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay, which has completed a $35 million renovation under Copperfield's supervision.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Career and business interests
- 3 Litigation
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Earnings
- 6 Charitable activities
- 7 Achievements and awards
- 8 Television specials
- 9 Worldwide tours
- 10 Plans for new illusions
- 11 Filmography
- 12 Notable tricks
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Copperfield was born David Seth Kotkin in Metuchen, New Jersey, the son of Jewish parents, Rebecca, an insurance adjuster, and Hyman Kotkin, who owned and operated a men's haberdashery in Metuchen called Korby's. Copperfield's mother was born in Jerusalem, while his paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from USSR (present-day Ukraine). 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 the age of 12, became the youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians. Shy and a loner, the young Copperfield saw magic as a way of fitting in and, later, as a way to get girls. As a teenager, Copperfield became fascinated with Broadway and frequently sneaked into shows, especially musicals featuring Stephen Sondheim or Bob Fosse. By age 16, he was teaching a course in magic at New York University.
Career and business interests
At age 18, Copperfield enrolled at New York city's Jesuit based school, Fordham University. However, three weeks into his freshman year Copperfield left Fordham, as he was cast in the lead role of the musical "The Magic Man", in Chicago. At this time is when he adopted his new stage name "David Copperfield", taken from the famous Charles Dickens novel because he liked the sound of it. Copperfield was the show: he sang, danced and created most of the original illusions it used. "The Magic Man" put Copperfield's name on the map; in fact, the show became the longest running musical in Chicago's history.
Copperfield's career in television began in earnest when he was discovered by Joseph Cates, a producer of Broadway shows and television specials. Cates produced a magic special in 1977 on ABC called "The Magic of ABC" hosted by Copperfield, as well as several of "The Magic of David Copperfield" specials on CBS between 1978 and 1998. There have been 20 Copperfield TV specials between 1977 and 2001.
Copperfield played the character of "Ken the Magician" in the 1980 horror film Terror Train. He also made an uncredited appearance in the 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter. Most of his media appearances have been through television specials and guest spots on television programs. His illusions have included making the Statue of Liberty disappear, flying, levitating over the Grand Canyon, and walking through the Great Wall of China.
In 1996, in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola, David Ives, and Eiko Ishioka, Copperfield's Broadway show Dreams & Nightmares broke box office records in New York at the Martin Beck Theatre. Reviewer Greg Evans, described the sold-out show in Variety magazine: "With a likable, self-effacing demeanor that rarely comes across in his TV specials, Copperfield leads the audience through nearly two hours of truly mind-boggling illusions. He disappears and reappears, gets cut in half, makes audience members vanish and others levitate. Copperfield climaxes his show with a flying routine, seven years in the making, that defies both logic and visual evidence -- he could probably retire just by selling his secrets to future productions of Peter Pan.”
Also during 1996, Copperfield joined forces with Dean Koontz, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury and others for David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible, an anthology of original fiction set in the world of magic and illusion. A second volume was later published in 1997, called David Copperfield's Beyond Imagination. In addition to the 2 books, David also wrote an essay as part of the "This I Believe" series from NPR and the This I Believe, Inc.
On 7 May 2009, Copperfield was dropped by Michael Jackson from Jackson's residency at the O2 Arena after an alleged row over money. Copperfield wanted $1 million (£666,000) per show. Copperfield denied the reports of a row, saying "don't believe everything you read." News of Copperfield's collaboration with Jackson first surfaced on April 1, 2009, and has since been reported by several websites as a possible April Fool's prank. 
In January 2011 David Copperfield joined the cast of the new feature film Burt Wonderstone with Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, and Olivia Wilde. Copperfield and his team also developed illusions used in the film.
In July 2012, OWN-TV network aired a one-hour special and interview with Copperfield as part of the network's "Oprah's Next Chapter" series. The show featured many aspects of Copperfield's personal life and family—with tours of his island home and Las Vegas conjuring museum—and a sampling of his illusions and magic effects. During the interview, he and his girlfriend Chloe Gosselin, a French fashion model, announced their engagement, and appeared together briefly with their young daughter strolling down the beach on the island.
Copperfield notes that his role models growing up were not magicians, that "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 ...."
International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts
Copperfield 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 Mullholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts, which contained the world's largest collection of Houdini memorabilia, the museum comprises approximately 80,000 items of magic memorabilia, including Houdini's Water Torture Cabinet and his Metamorphosis Trunk, Orson Welles' Buzz Saw Illusion and automata created by Robert-Houdin.
The museum is not open to the public; tours are reserved for "colleagues, fellow magicians, and serious collectors". Located in a warehouse at Copperfield's headquarters in Las Vegas, the museum is entered via a secret door in what was described by actor Hugh Jackman as a "sex shop" and by Forbes as a "mail-order lingerie warehouse". "'It doesn't need to be secret, it needs to be respected,' he said. 'If a scholar or journalist needs a piece of magic history, it's there.'"
Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay
In 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, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin was married there. Copperfield has stated that the islands may contain the Fountain of Youth, a claim which 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, there was a sign on Hollywood Boulevard during the late 90s indicating the restaurant was coming soon. Signs were also located around Pleasure Island and signs outside Disney-MGM Studios. A Magic Underground restaurant was also going to open in New York's Times Square. Plans also 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 of the restaurants while 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 percent 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 cancelled, and Disney cancelled the lease. Copperfield was not an investor in the project; the investors reportedly lost $34 million on the project, and subcontractors placed $15 million in liens.
Recorded message for expanded gambling in Maryland
Accidents and injuries
On 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 1 minute 20 seconds, hyperventilating and in shock, and taken to a 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.
On December 17, 2008, during a live performance in Las Vegas, one of Copperfield's assistants named Brandon, 26, was sucked into the spinning blades of a 12 feet (3.7 m) high industrial fan that Copperfield walks through. The assistant sustained multiple fractures to his arm, severe bleeding, and facial lacerations that required stitching. Copperfield canceled the rest of the performance and offered the audience members refunds.
On 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. However, the book was published without exposing any of Copperfield's secrets. Because of a secrecy agreement Becker had 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 US$50 million for causing breach of contract between himself and Lifetime Books, the publisher of his book All the Secrets of Magic Revealed. Becker won this lawsuit when Copperfield settled at the eleventh hour and the publisher lost during the court trial.
In 1997, Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer sued Paris Match for US$30 million after the magazine claimed their relationship was a stunt, that Schiffer was paid for pretending to be Copperfield's fiancée and that she didn't even like him. In 1999, they won an undisclosed sum and a retraction from Paris Match. Herbert L. Becker, whom Copperfield asked to give testimony regarding the validity of the relationship, gave convincing testimony that the relationship was real. Copperfield's publicist confirmed that while Schiffer had a contract to appear in the audience at Copperfield's show in Berlin where they met, she 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's purchase of 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 unrealistic 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 David 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. The dispute was resolved in July 2009.
Copperfield 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 against Copperfield. 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.
Copperfield was engaged to supermodel Claudia Schiffer for six years; the couple separated in 1999 citing work schedules. They had met in 1993 at a Berlin celebrity gala when he brought her on stage to participate in a mind reading act and his flying illusion. While they were engaged, Schiffer sometimes appeared on stage with Copperfield to act as his special guest assistant in illusions including being sawn in half. She also appeared alongside Copperfield in David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic, in which she played the role of a reporter interviewing him, and during which they reprised their performance of the 'Flying' illusion.
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. One of the assistants wrote down most of the license plate number, and the suspects were later arrested, charged, and sentenced.
Copperfield and his girlfriend Chloe Gosselin, a French fashion model who is 28 years his junior, had a daughter named Sky in February 2010. The news did not break publicly until over a year later, when The New York Post reported it in August 2011, and it was confirmed by Copperfield's publicist.
|David Copperfield on the Forbes Celebrity 100 List |
|Year (June–June)||Pay (USD, millions)||Power Rank||Pay Rank|
|1999–2000||not on list|
|2002||not on list|
|2006–2008||not on list|
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.
In 1982, Copperfield founded Project Magic, a rehabilitation program to help disabled patients regain lost or damaged dexterity skills by using sleight-of-hand magic as a method of physical therapy. The program has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, and is in use in over 1100 hospitals throughout 30 countries worldwide. Copperfield made an appearance on Oprah Radio in April 2008 to talk with Oprah Radio host Dr. Mehmet Oz about how the use of magic can help disabled people.
Achievements and awards
- The Society of American Magicians, "Magician of the Century" and "King of Magic".
- Nominated 38 times for Emmy Awards and has won 21 times.
- Received a Living Legend Award from the Library of Congress.
- First living magician to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Recognized by the French government, receiving the Chevalier of Arts and Letters, the first one ever awarded to a magician.
- Named "Magician of the Year" in 1980 and 1987 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.
- Topped The Onion's annual list of the World's Most Powerful People, 2013 
Guinness World Records
- The Magic of ABC Starring David Copperfield (1977) (With special guests Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond)
- The Magic of David Copperfield (1978) (With special guests Orson Welles and Bernadette Peters)
- 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork
- The Magic of David Copperfield II (1979) (With special guest Bill Bixby)
- 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork
- The Magic of David Copperfield III: Levitating Ferrari (1980) (With special guest Jack Klugman)
- 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 (1981) (With special guest Jason Robards)
- 1 Emmy Win: Outstanding Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork
- The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears (1983) (With special guests Morgan Fairchild, Michele Lee, Eugene Levy and William B. Williams)
- The Magic of David Copperfield VI: Floating Over the Grand Canyon (1984) (With special guest Bonnie Tyler theme Holding Out for a Hero)
- 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 (1985) (With special guest Angie Dickinson)
- 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 (1986) (With special guest Ben Vereen)
- 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: Escape From Alcatraz (1987) (With special guest Ann Jillian)
- 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 (1988) (With special guest Lisa Hartman)
- 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 (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 (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 (1991) (With special guest Jane Seymour) Filmed at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa Bay, Florida
- 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: Flying – Live The Dream (1992) (With special guest James Earl Jones) 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 (1993) (With special guest Wayne Gretzky) Filmed in part at Caesars Palace in 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 (1994) (With special guest Claudia Schiffer)
- 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 (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
- The Magic of David Copperfield XVII: Tornado of Fire (2001) (With special guest Carson Daly) – Filmed in at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee and live tornado stunt performed at Pier 94 in New York City, NY (US version 60 minutes, international version 90 minutes)
- 1 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program
- The Magic of David Copperfield: Live on Stage (1983–1986)
- The Magic of David Copperfield (1987–1990)
- David Copperfield: Radical New Illusions (1991–1992)
- David Copperfield: Magic for the 90's (1992–1994)
- David Copperfield: Beyond Imagination (a.k.a. The Best of David Copperfield) (1995–1996)
- David Copperfield: Dreams and Nightmares (a.k.a. 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 illusions
Copperfield declared that amongst the new illusions he plans to create, he wants to put a woman's face on Mt. Rushmore, straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa and even vanish the moon.  He also wants to make an island disappear.
- Terror Train (1980) as Ken the Magician
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1997) as himself
- Scrubs (2002) TV – "My Lucky Day" as himself
- Oh My God (2009) as himself
- America's Got Talent (2010) as himself
- The Simpsons, episode The Great Simpsina (2011) as himself
- Wizards of Waverly Place, episode Harperella (2011) as himself
- Burt Wonderstone, (2013) as himself
- Laser illusion
- Vanishing the Statue of Liberty - April 8, 1983
- Walking Through the Great Wall of China
- Death Saw
- Squeeze box
- "Why David Copperfield Is Afraid of Marriage". Oprah.com. July 17, 2012
- "Houdini in the Desert". Forbes.com. May 8, 2006
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- "Magic Web Channel hall of fame – David Copperfield". Magicwebchannel.com. 1956-09-16. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
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|url=missing title (help).
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- "Renowned Illusionist David Copperfield to Offer Personal Essay on This I Believe Segment on All Things Considered". National Public Radio. "Renowned illusionist David Copperfield discusses his father’s influence and the impact of kindness in an essay for the NPR series This I Believe airing on All Things Considered, Monday, August 21."
- "Daily Express | Showbiz :: Jackson swaps Copperfield for Angel". www.express.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
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- COP-A-FEEL. N.Y. Post. October 20, 2007 "We pull up outside this sex shop and David gets out, pulls out a set of keys, and walks in, and we're thinking 'Oh my god what have we got ourselves into here?'"
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- "Magician has close call". Spokane. 1984-03-21. Retrieved 2009-06-07. "The diagnosis was basically abrasions and pulled tendons in arms and legs."
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