He is the most successful magician of a generation, and one of the longest lasting. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since the David Copperfield Statue of Liberty disappeared. It was this feat that drew a reported 50 million viewers for CBS and helped make Copperfield a household name.
Today, Copperfield’s shows at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas are still a big draw, with nightly crowds flocking to see the billionaire in action. The show is all about its design, from the music that swells at just the right moment to the stage lighting and props that allow the audience to see just enough to marvel.
“Sunday Morning” caught up with Copperfield at his private museum near the Las Vegas Strip, where he has collected some of the world’s greatest magic, from Houdini’s handcuffs and water escape tanks to the actual Macy’s counter where a young Copperfield bought his first magic. strategy
“Is it still cold to walk around here?” Smith asked.
“You know, it becomes part of who you are,” he replies.
It is also where he refines his ideas amid extremely tight security.
“How often do you share with the public how you do these illusions?” Smith asked.
“I think this is the first time we’ve discussed the journey, the process, on national TV,” he said.
Almost all of his illusions begin as sketches, such as a flying saucer that magically appears, or a giant blade that appears to cut a woman in half. “It’s a blade that’s not just a blade, I can hang from the blade,” he said.
And the result: split! It was the first time someone was apparently cut in half lengthwise.
We also get a peek at a futuristic illusion involving a group of people who all disappear, or fly, or something like that. “It’s a model, so we can pull out camera shots for a big new illusion that … we can’t talk about right now,” Copperfield said.
If it seems like he’s evasive, it’s because he is: Copperfield’s first rule of magic is that Copperfield doesn’t talk about his magic, mainly because he’s one of the most copied artists in the business, and he doesn’t want to give anything away but keep people guessing. does not prevent Just go online and you’ll find videos of armchair experts claiming to reveal Copperfield’s secrets.
And some of them are actually red herrings, Copperfield himself posted.
Smith asked, “So, the videos that you (as someone else) published are misleading people? They’re not actually explained illusions?”
“One hundred percent,” he said.
“Why did you do that?”
“Because it’s naughty!”
For him, the magic business has always been fun. Born David Kotkin in Metuchen, NJ, the boy who became David Copperfield started doing tricks at age 12, and his success is no illusion.
“My ‘magic’ is real to a certain degree,” he said. “When you hear people say ‘magic trick,’ it’s like … I get it, I take it, I use the word ‘trick,’ I did it today. But it’s undermining all the hard work that goes into it. In the middle, when is not and when is.”
Web Extra: David Copperfield on the missing Lear jet illusion
He is now a very fit 66, and is in a long-term relationship with designer Chloe Gosselin, with whom he has a teenage daughter. But Copperfield is still laughing. He does 15 shows a week, three on Saturday alone. No days off.
“But David, you’re a billionaire, you don’t need to do that,” said Smith.
“But I like it, you know?” Copperfield said. “I really enjoy it. I’m lucky, you know, to walk in there and people are kind of happy to be there, you know? And some people actually need to be there. People are in the front row, and I can look them in the face: take me. Go, I have to dream.”
And he says until he can stand on a stage and make people wonder how he does it.
“An arena can hold 20,000; there’s a woman in the front row with her arms crossed, and that’s what I want,” he said. “That lady, I have to try to make her smile, you know?”
“And when you feel it how?”
“You know, it feels great when you do. And when I don’t, I keep trying!”
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Story by John D’Amelio. Editor: Steven Tyler.