Born in Metuchen, New Jersey as David Seth Kotkin to Russian parents, Hyman and Rebecca, Copperfield began practicing magic at the age of 12, and became the youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians. By age 16, he was teaching a course in magic at New York University. At age 18, he enrolled at Fordham University, and was cast in the lead role of the Chicago-based musical The Magic Man (directed by Holland, MI's John Tammi) 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.
David 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 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 met supermodel, Claudia Schiffer in 1993 at a Berlin celebrity gala when he brought her on stage to participate in a mind reading act. They were engaged three months later, but the couple parted ways in the fall of 1999 never having set a wedding date. Copperfield has also been romantically linked to models, Ambre Frisque and Terry Holladay.
David Copperfield at one time was ready to open a theme restaurant called "Magic Underground." There were to be two locations, one in New York City and one in Walt Disney World (built in the shape of a Hidden Mickey). These locations would allow "D.A.V.I.D" (Digital Audio-Video Interface Device) to remotely interact with the guests in the restaurant. It was basically a high tech videophone system. Other things such as the very table you were sitting at might "Float" around the room and even the waiters were to be involved performing magic as they brought your order to you. Eventually the New York project ran into trouble and the Walt Disney World location was aborted.
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.
Forbes Magazine reported that Copperfield earned $57 million in 2003, making him the tenth highest paid celebrity in the world. It also estimated that he made $57 million in 2004 (35th) and $57 million in 2005 (41st) in merchandise and tour revenue.Copperfield performs over 500 shows per year throughout the world.
International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts
Copperfield has a collection of magic and conjuring memorabilia and historical artifacts that he stores in a warehouse in Las Vegas. He calls the collection the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts. It is not open to the public.