- David Copperfield (illusionist)
David Copperfield. Photo taken by Homer Liwag
Born David Seth Kotkin
September 16, 1956
Metuchen, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Magician, illusionist, director, producer, writer Years active 1974–present Website www.dcopperfield.com
David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin; September 16, 1956) is an Emmy Award-winning American illusionist, and was described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history. Copperfield's network specials have been nominated for 38 Emmy Awards and won a total of 21 Emmys. 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, a knighthood by the French government, and he was named a Living Legend by the US Library of Congress. Notable illusions created and performed by David Copperfield include vanishing the Statue of Liberty, walking through the Great Wall of China, escaping from a locked safe inside an imploding building, and flying through the air night after night in his Broadway show. Copperfield has so far sold 40 million tickets and grossed over $3 billion, which is more than any other solo entertainer in history, including Madonna, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. He currently performs over 500 shows a year. When not performing, Copperfield creates experiences for his chain of 11 islands in the Bahamas - Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay, which has just completed a $35 million renovation under Copperfield's supervision.
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, Israel, while his paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russia (present-day Ukraine).
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, he enrolled at Fordham University, and was cast in the lead role of the Chicago-based musical The Magic Man (written by Barbara D'Amato and directed by Holland, MI's John Tamimi) three weeks into his freshman year, adopting his new stage name "David Copperfield" from the Charles Dickens book of the same name. At age 19, he was headlining at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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, 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. Also during 1996, in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola, David Ives, and Eiko Ishioka, Copperfield's Broadway show "Dreams & Nightmares" broke box office records.
Copperfield notes that his role models were not magicians and 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 ...."
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. 
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. Re-named "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.
"Magic Underground" restaurant
David Copperfield's Magic Underground was planned to be a restaurant based on Copperfield's magic. 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, so 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.
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 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, lacerations that required stitching, and severe bleeding. 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 law suit. 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 battle.
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 who 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.
In April 2006, Copperfield and two female assistants were robbed at gunpoint after a performance in West Palm Beach, Florida. His assistants gave the robbers 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 Copperfield's assistants wrote down most of the license plate number, and the suspects were later arrested, tried, and sentenced.
David Copperfield on the Forbes Celebrity 100 List  Year (June-June) Pay (USD, millions) Power Rank Pay Rank 1999–2000 not on list 2001 60 23 5 2002 not on list 2003 55 43 10 2004 57 35 10 2005 57 41 10 2006–2008 not on list 2009 30 80 50
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.
- Knighted by the French government, receiving the Chevalier of Arts and Letters, the first one ever awarded to a magician.
- Forbes's "The Celebrity 100" for 2009 ranks Copperfield as the 80th most powerful celebrity, with earnings of $30 million.
Guinness World Records
Copperfield holds 11 Guinness World Records. They include:
1. Largest private collection of magic artifacts
2. Most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer
3. Highest career earnings as a magician
4. Highest Broadway gross in a week
5. Largest Broadway attendance in a week
6. Largest international television audience for a magician
7. Most magic shows performed in a year
8. Most valuable magic poster
9. Largest work archive for a magician
10. Highest annual earnings for a magician
11. Largest illusion ever staged
- 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: Vanishing the Statue of Liberty (1983) (With special guests Morgan Fairchild and Eugene Levy)
- 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) 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
- 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)
- Terror Train (1980)
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1997) as himself
- Scrubs (2002) TV - "My Lucky Day" as himself
- Oh My God (2009)
- 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
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- ^ a b c Guinness World Records 2006, pg. 197 (Isbn no 1904994024)
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- ^ Ike Hughes (2006). "David Copperfield has made a career out of dazzling people". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved on 2008-09-22. "His dad, who managed a men's clothing store, was the son of Russian immigrants. His mom was born in Jerusalem; both wanted him to go to college and into a profession."
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- ^ "Renowned Illusionist David Copperfield to Offer Personal Essay on This I Believe Segment on All Things Considered". National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/about/press/060816.copperfield.html. "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."
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- ^ "More Than Meets the Eye" The Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 7, 2009, available at http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/more-than-meets-the-eye/2009/08/06/1249350628986.html
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- ^ COP-A-FEEL-N.Y. Post http://www.nypost.com/seven/10202007/news/nationalnews/cop_a_feel.htm ("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?'")
- ^ Witchel, Alex (1996-11-24). "A Maestro of the Magic Arts Returns to His Roots - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/1996/11/24/theater/a-maestro-of-the-magic-arts-returns-to-his-roots.html?pagewanted=3. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- ^ a b —Jennifer Hall (2009-03-01). "The Robb Reader: David Copperfield". Robb Report. http://www.robbreport.com/The-Robb-Reader-David-Copperfield.aspx. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
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- ^ "BW Online | October 19, 1998 | TALK SHOW". www.businessweek.com. http://www.businessweek.com/archives/1998/b3600021.arc.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-20. "subcontractors slapped $15 million in liens on the project"
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