David Copperfield – under strict secrecy
David Seth Kotkin (later Copperfield) was born in New Jersey, the son of Jewish parents, Rebecca and Hyman Kotkin. Copperfield's paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants who came to America in the 1930s from modern-day Ukraine, then USSR.
David began practicing magic when he was 10, and at the age of 12 became the youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians. By age 16, he was already teaching a course in magic at New York University! In his own words, he used magic as a way of fitting in with the young crowd and also as a way to get girls.
A bit later, at age 18, Copperfield dropped out from a prestigious university to play the lead role in the musical "The Magic Man" in Chicago. Copperfield sang, danced and created most of the original illusions used in the show. It was in no small part due to his efforts that the musical would become the longest running musical in Chicago's history!
He tried his luck on Broadway: in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola and Eiko Ishioka, he created the show Dreams & Nightmares, which broke all the previous box office records.
When starting his magician career, he adopted the stage name "David Copperfield", taken from the famous Charles Dickens novel because he liked the sound of it. He became the most prominent, successful and mysterious magician after Goudini, amazing millions with his gargantuan performances, like the disappearance of the Statue of Liberty.
However, his career has not been a bed of roses.... On March 11, 1984, while rehearsing an escape from a tank of water, Copperfield became entangled in the chains and nearly drowned after spending 1 minute 20 seconds under water. He was hospitalized for a week.
Lately, he has reached the heights few magicians can dream about. In 2009, Copperfield tried (although failed) to secure a gig at Michael Jackson's concerts in London, after an alleged row over money: Copperfield, reportedly, wanted $1 million per show!
One of the reasons of Copperfield's success is his legendary secretiveness. For example, in 1994 he sued magician and author Herbert L. Becker in order to prevent publication of Becker's book with explanations on how magicians perform their illusions, but failed. However, the book that was finally published contained none of Copperfield's secrets...
As for his personal life, there is no secret here... Copperfield was engaged to supermodel Claudia Schiffer for six years from 1994 to 1999, sometimes inviting his fiancee to help him perform his magic tricks, but, ultimately, the couple split because of "too different work schedules".
"Living Legends". Library of Congress
Witchel, Alex (November 24, 1996). "A Maestro of the Magic Arts Returns to His Roots". The New York Times.