• Weird History

Things We Just Learned About David Copperfield

List RulesVote up the most uncanny David Copperfield facts.

Magic has fascinated us throughout history. When something extraordinary happens right before our eyes that we can't readily explain, we're not only amazed, but also immediately curious to know how they did that. In recent history, the most successful magicians have developed elaborate stage shows performed on tour, in tourist destinations, or on TV. Illusionist David Copperfield is one of the most well-known and commercially successful magicians. 

Copperfield, born David Kotkin, took to performing at a young age. His flashy illusions grew even larger as he performed a string of CBS television specials throughout the 1980s, making him a household name. In the '90s, he played Las Vegas, Broadway, and toured the nation. Although everything he's involved in has a magical touch, his success is real.

  • 1

    He Founded A Program To Provide Physical Therapy To People With Disabilities By Teaching Magic Tricks

    In 1981, David Copperfield received letters from an aspiring magician and fan who was living with a disability. Copperfield went about creating what would become Project Magic, a therapeutic program that teaches magic tricks to people with physical, psychological, and social disabilities.

    Learning magic tricks can require dexterity, coordination, and concentration similar to what is used in physical therapy. The American Occupational Therapy Association formally endorsed Project Magic in 1982.

  • Photo: David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic / CBS

    He Used A Magic Trick To Avoid Getting Robbed

    After a show in Florida in 2006, David Copperfield was walking with two female assistants back to their tour bus when a car pulled up alongside them. Two armed teenagers demanded the group hand over their belongings. The assistants complied, handing over a passport, plane tickets, a cellphone, and money.

    Copperfield turned his pockets inside out to reveal he had nothing in them. But this was a sleight-of-hand magic trick: He was actually carrying his passport, wallet, and cellphone. The assailants believed him and left. Copperfield's assistant then called 911 while he read their car's license plate number to her. The teens were found and detained. 

  • 3

    He's One Of The Highest-Earning Celebrities In The World

    David Copperfield is regularly the highest-earning magician each year, and in 2019, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $875 million. He earned $60 million in 2019 alone, when he performed 654 shows at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    He holds the Guinness World Record for most tickets sold worldwide by a solo entertainer, selling approximately 39,690,000 tickets to his shows from 1984 to 2004. 

  • Photo: David Copperfield - Illusion / CBS

    He Made The Statue Of Liberty 'Disappear'

    On a live CBS special in 1983, David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty "disappear." The live audience, television crew, and stage were all on a large platform viewing the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. Framing the statue, on the platform, were two scaffolds decorated in lights. Copperfield raised a curtain between the scaffolds to hide the statue and monologued a bit before dropping the curtain while lights flashed, revealing the statue was gone. 

    It turns out, the platform rotated. The vibrations of its movement were masked by loud music being pumped through speakers while Copperfield spoke over the noise. When the curtain dropped, the platform had moved just enough so the statue was blocked from view by one of the scaffolds. The lights were so bright, no one could see the statue behind them.