The lives of the successful are increasing over dramatized and people like to believe that one has to undergo a great tragedy or survive pitiful childhood experiences to achieve great things. It is true that numerous legends have found motivation from the unflattering experiences they underwent, but it is equally true that many more have scaled great heights by enjoying nurturing lives. David Copperfield, a man who has infused faith into the phrase “nothing is impossible”, is one such example.
The biography of David Copperfield reveals for all to see the power of true talent and passion. The importance of pursuing one’s strengths and knowing oneself are potent tools to unlocking the immense potential locked within. Every person has a set of strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to you to discover them and make the most of your abilities.
Another vital lesson to be learnt from the life and times of Copperfield is to realize that each individual is blessed with a unique perception and the frame of reference differs from person to person. What really makes a person unique is his perception, the information he chooses to pay attention to and how he uses the knowledge gained to his advantage. If David did not value his intuitions and perception, he would not have developed to be the ultra successful illusionist that he is today, and neither would he have boasted of an empire of accolades that place him several leagues ahead of any performer, dead or alive.
David Copperfield Life Story
David Copperfield was born David Kotkin on 16 September 1956 in Metuchen, New Jersey, to Hy and Rebecca. Hy was the owner of Korby’s Men’s Shop and Rebecca was employed in the insurance sector. David was a shy kid who found his innate ability to perform magic as a means of overcoming his shyness. Displaying his laudable talent as a kid aged 10 David gained self-confidence from his achievements and waged a successful battle against his shyness. As a teenager, David also used his magic to popularize himself among the fairer sex. However, what matters is the fact that he respected the art form and soon perfected his art to make himself competent.
Aged all of 12, David Copperfield was already an accomplished conjurer. At 16, he signed on as an adjunct professor at the New York University, teaching the “Art of Magic” course to students. As an 18-year-old, David starred as the lead in a musical comedy named “The Magic Man” that was received ethusiastically and went on to be one of the longest shows in Chicago’s history.
Over the years, David performed in front of live audiences and slowly evolved to be the man he is today – performing at least 4 shows a day and giving 500 shows each year. After The Magic Man, David went back to New York and soon launched “The Magic of ABC, Starring David Copperfield”, a TV show that became a echoing hit among viewers. The shows that he will be remembered by decades later are those belonging to his annual TV special series named “The David Copperfield Show”.
David is a brand by himself and is renowned for awing millions across the globe with fresh illusions every year. Of his illusions, a few that stand elevated above the others include the vanishing act of a jet plane, the disappearance of the statue of Liberty, walking through the Great Wall of China, freeing himself from shackles even as he plunged over Niagara Falls, surviving the confinement of a safe in an imploding building, escaping from Alcatraz prison, flying through the air, vanishing an Orient Express train car that weighed 45 tonnes, escaping a nerve-wrecking fate of being shredded by flaming steel spikes when hanging 10 stories above them upside down from a burning rope and standing in the centre of a tornado of fire that hit 2,000 degrees. The fact that has people bowing down to David in awe is that he performed all these stunts in front of live audiences, with no TV editing or camera trickery present to share credit for the illusions.
David Copperfield has been named the Magician of the Century and the Magician of the Millennium, and the list of accolades and records credited to him would take a few days to be listed out. Copperfield is hailed as the performer to have the most number of tickets to solo shows, pipping even Elvis Presley, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson. 21 Emmys and 11 Guinness world records also tip scales heavily in his favor.
David Copperfield is dedicated to his art, and this is what takes him through the trials of practicing the highly uncertain and dangerous acts of magic that put the life of the performer at peril. David nearly drowned to death when practicing for an act in 1984. He got entangled in chains in a sealed water tank and was taken out of the tank 1 minute and 20 seconds later. He suffered from shock and was regaled to a wheelchair for a week, and had to support himself with a cane for many days. He once accidentally cut off his own finger when practicing.
David is also a man of principle and the fact that he behaves as a human being before a performer is another factor that contributes to this success. He cancelled a show when his assistants was sucked into an industrial fan that he was to walk through and suffered multiple injuries, and even refunded the tickets of his audience.
A historian of the art of magic and the owner of 11 commercially successful islands that also boast of a museum for magic show David’s loyalty and love for his art and his passion for the survival of the same. It is this degree of dedication that makes a man a legend who will be remembered by several generations to come. David Copperfield is today a man who rubbishes the “impossible” and stands as an example of how faith in one’s work can boost him to scale great heights.
David Copperfield - Short Biography
David Copperfield is a world-renowned illusionist, magician, and entertainer. He was born David Seth Kotkin on September 16, 1956, in Metuchen, New Jersey, United States. He began performing magic at a young age and quickly gained recognition for his skills and showmanship.
Copperfield began his professional career in the 1970s, performing magic on television and in Las Vegas. He quickly gained fame and success, performing illusions such as levitation, teleportation, and making the Statue of Liberty disappear. He has also made several world-record breaking achievements, like the largest illusion ever performed, and the most money paid for a single magic performance.
Throughout his career, Copperfield has performed in over 5,000 live shows in over 40 countries and has been seen by over 30 million people. In addition to his live performances, Copperfield has also produced and starred in numerous television specials and series, including "The Magic of David Copperfield" and "David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic."
Copperfield is considered one of the most successful and influential magicians of all time. He has received numerous awards and honors, including 21 Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also has a private collection of rare magical artifacts and memorabilia, which he has made available to the public through the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts.
Copperfield is also actively involved in philanthropy, and he has established the Project Magic, a rehabilitation program that uses magic as a therapeutic tool for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.
David Copperfield Fast Facts
* David Copperfield was born David Seth Kotkin on September 16, 1956, in Metuchen, New Jersey, United States.
* He began performing magic at a young age and quickly gained recognition for his skills and showmanship.
* Copperfield began his professional career in the 1970s, performing magic on television and in Las Vegas.
* He quickly gained fame and success, performing illusions such as levitation, teleportation, and making the Statue of Liberty disappear.
* He has also made several world-record breaking achievements, like the largest illusion ever performed, and the most money paid for a single magic performance.
* Throughout his career, Copperfield has performed in over 5,000 live shows in over 40 countries and has been seen by over 30 million people.
* He has produced and starred in numerous television specials and series, including "The Magic of David Copperfield" and "David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic."
* Copperfield is considered one of the most successful and influential magicians of all time.
* He has received numerous awards and honors, including 21 Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
* He has a private collection of rare magical artifacts and memorabilia, which he has made available to the public through the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts.
* He is actively involved in philanthropy, and he has established the Project Magic, a rehabilitation program that uses magic as a therapeutic tool for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.
* He owns several private islands, including Musha Cay, which he uses to host luxury vacations and special events.
* Copperfield has been romantically linked to several high-profile celebrities throughout his career.
David Copperfield Life Highlights
Early Life and Influences
David Copperfield, originally named David Seth Kotkin, was born in Metuchen, New Jersey, to Jewish parents Rebecca and Hyman Kotkin. His mother was born in Jerusalem, while his paternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from present-day Ukraine. Copperfield's interest in magic began at a young age, initially as a ventriloquist using a puppet named 'Jerry Mahoney' at 8. By age 12, he was the youngest member of the Society of American Magicians. Notably, his inspirations came from Hollywood actors rather than fellow magicians, with figures like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin influencing his approach to magic. Magic became his way of fitting in and connecting with others, driven by his shy and introverted nature. Copperfield's creative style was significantly shaped during his time at Camp Harmony in New Jersey.
Early Career and Identity
As a teenager, Copperfield's passion for magic continued to grow. He immersed himself in Broadway shows, particularly musicals by Stephen Sondheim and Bob Fosse. Upon enrolling at Fordham University, he left soon after to star in the musical "The Magic Man," adopting the stage name David Copperfield from the Charles Dickens novel. The musical, for which Copperfield contributed his own illusions, became a notable success. At age 19, he introduced his first major show, "The Magic of David Copperfield," at the Pagoda Hotel in Hawaii. This marked the beginning of his journey as a prominent magician.
Television and Iconic Illusions
Copperfield's television career was catalyzed when he was discovered by Joseph Cates, leading to his hosting of "The Magic of ABC" special in 1977 and a series of CBS specials until 2001. Over the years, he presented a string of groundbreaking illusions on television. One of his most famous feats occurred in 1983, when he appeared to make the Statue of Liberty vanish in front of a live audience. This illusion conveyed a message about the value of liberty and freedom. Copperfield's innovations continued with the introduction of the "Death Saw" illusion, and his Broadway show "Dreams & Nightmares" garnered praise for its mind-boggling illusions and performances.
Continued Achievements and Contributions
In the 1990s, Copperfield expanded his influence by collaborating with other artists, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Dean Koontz, resulting in anthologies set in the realm of magic and illusion. He maintained a strong presence in popular culture, with appearances on television programs and a cameo in the film "Burt Wonderstone." His role as a technical advisor and co-producer for magic-related films, including "The Prestige" and "Now You See Me 2," showcased his expertise beyond the stage.
Later Achievements and Legacy
Copperfield's legacy continued to evolve into the 21st century. He shared his personal life and magic collections on TV specials, like the one on OWN-TV's "Oprah's Next Chapter." In 2018, his collection was displayed at the New York Historical Society in an exhibition called "Summer of Magic." Notably, Copperfield made history by making the missing star from the original Star-Spangled Banner flag reappear through an illusion on Flag Day 2019 in partnership with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
In 2006, Copperfield acquired eleven Bahamian islands known as Musha Cay, renaming them "The Islands of Copperfield Bay." The private resort has hosted celebrity guests like Oprah Winfrey, John Travolta, and Sergey Brin. Copperfield also planned a themed restaurant called "Magic Underground," with locations proposed in Orlando, New York's Times Square, and potential expansion to other Disney parks. The restaurant concept featured magic-themed decor, tableside magician performances, and large-scale stunts. Unfortunately, the project faced financial issues, leading to its eventual cancellation.
Accidents, Lawsuits, and Innovations
Copperfield faced various accidents and legal battles throughout his career. In a 1984 rehearsal, he became trapped in an illusion tank, leading to injuries. In 1989, he accidentally severed his fingertip while performing a rope trick. An assistant's injury during a 2008 performance resulted in Copperfield canceling the show. In recent years, Copperfield advocated for recognizing magic as an art form through Congressional Resolution 642, though the campaign remained unsuccessful. He maintained a Las Vegas residency, performing at the David Copperfield theater in MGM Grand.
Allegations and Personal Life
Copperfield's personal life included relationships and controversies. He met Claudia Schiffer in 1993, and they became engaged in 1994, but their separation was announced in 1999. In 2010, Copperfield and his assistants were robbed at gunpoint after a performance. Copperfield's girlfriend, Chloé Gosselin, gave birth to his daughter, Sky, in 2010. He also has two other children, Dylan Jacob Kotkin and Audrey Anna Kotkin.
Copperfield owns the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, housing an extensive collection of historical magic memorabilia, books, and artifacts. The collection began in 1991 when he acquired the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts, containing Houdini memorabilia. The museum includes iconic items like Houdini's Water Torture Cabinet and Metamorphosis Trunk, as well as Orson Welles' Buzz Saw illusion and automata by Robert-Houdin. Copperfield's purchases and expansion engendered both praise and criticism. The museum, containing around 80,000 items, isn't open to the public, reserved for magicians, collectors, and colleagues, and is located within Copperfield's Las Vegas headquarters.
Moon Library and Legacy
Copperfield's legacy extends to unique contributions like etching his magic secrets onto nickel plates that were part of the "lunar library" project, intended to last for billions of years. These plates were placed on the lunar module Beresheet that crashed into the moon in 2019. Copperfield's journey through magic was marked by groundbreaking performances, creative ventures, legal disputes, and efforts to legitimize magic as an art form.
Throughout his career, Copperfield's approach to magic, influenced by his idols in various art forms, aimed to captivate audiences emotionally and intellectually. While his style garnered wide acclaim, it also drew criticism from some within the magic community. Nevertheless, David Copperfield's contributions to magic and entertainment remain undeniable, solidifying his status as a true icon in the world of illusion.
David Copperfield Best Quotes
"The real secret of magic lies in the performance."
"Dreams are illusions, and we can't let go of them because we would be dead."
"Marriage is like a formality for me."
"Demonic figures and occult themes have disappeared from modern magic."
"It is the unspoken ethic of all magicians to not reveal the secrets"
"Magic and new technology have always walked hand in hand - even back in the days of Robert Houdin."
"When you're a guy and meet a girl the first time, you do whatever it takes."
"You have to learn certain skills to present magic."
"But Vegas is really my first home."
"I discovered Musha Cay and the islands around it in the Exumas."
"No, I think marriage is a great thing."
"The first trick I bought at Macy's was a little wooden board where a quarter would appear and disappear."
"Magic came very easy for me when I was a kid. When I was 8 years old I started doing it, and by the time I was 12, I was already published in magic books."
"For me to grow, I have to know about the foundation that came before."
"I need a form of escape even when I'm working really hard."
"Magic is my paint."
"My show is constantly evolving... new tricks are added, old ones are dropped... so it stays fresh. But it's the randomly selected participants from the audience that make it fresh and provide some of the best comic relief."
"Magic really helped me."
"Physical rehab is often very, very hard work."
"There is a safe spot within every tornado. My job is to find it." (Meaning)
"If I was gay, why would I hide it?"
"No self-respecting gay guy would have ever made some of the hair and clothing choices I am still trying to live down."
"My uncle's house burned down when I was 6 years old. We got out safely. But ever since, I've had a nightmare of dying in a fire."
"It's okay for me to be gay, but God didn't make me that way."
"I find revealing the secrets of magic quite reprehensible."
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
* The editor of this short biography made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any quotes, facts, or key life events. If you're looking to expand your personal development, I recommend exploring other people's life stories and gaining inspiration from my collection of inspiring quotes. Exposing yourself to different perspectives can broaden your worldview and help you with your personal growth.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.