Born in New Jersey as David Seth Kotkin, 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 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. 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.
Copperfield was engaged to the supermodel Claudia Schiffer, but the couple parted ways in 1999 after a six-year relationship.
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.”
Copperfield has also attempted to preserve the history of the art of magic for present and future generations by providing a safe, permanent home for antiquarian props, books, and other historical ephemera related to conjuring. His vast collection, known as the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, is housed in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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.
- The Magic of ABC Starring David Copperfield (1977)
- The Magic of David Copperfield (1978)
- The Magic of David Copperfield II (1979)
- The Magic of David Copperfield III: Levitating Ferrari (1980)
- The Magic of David Copperfield IV: The Vanishing Airplane (1981)
- The Magic of David Copperfield V: Vanishing the Statue of Liberty (1983)
- The Magic of David Copperfield VI: Floating Over the Grand Canyon (1984) (with special guest Bonnie Tyler theme Holding Out For A Hero)
- The Magic of David Copperfield VII: Familiares (1985)
- The Magic of David Copperfield VIII: Walking Through the Great Wall of China (1986)
- The Magic of David Copperfield IX: Escape From Alcatraz (1987)
- The Magic of David Copperfield X: The Bermuda Triangle (1988)
- The Magic of David Copperfield XI: Explosive Encounter (1989) (with special guest Emma Samms) Filmed at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California
- The Magic of David Copperfield XII: The Niagara Falls Challenge (1990) (with special guest Kim Alexis) Filmed at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Orange County, California
- The Magic of David Copperfield XIII: Mystery On The Orient Express (1991) (with special guest Jane Seymour) Filmed at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- The Magic of David Copperfield XIV: Flying - Live The Dream (1992) (with special guest James Earl Jones) Filmed at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
- The Magic of David Copperfield XV: Fires Of Passion (1993) (with special guest Wayne Gretzky) Filmed in part at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa Bay, Florida
- David Copperfield: 15 Years of Magic (1994) (with special guest Claudia Schiffer)
- The Magic of David Copperfield XVI: Unexplained Forces (1995)
- The David Copperfield: The Great Escapes
- The Magic of David Copperfield XVII: Tornado Of Fire (2001) (with special guest Carson Daly) - Filmed at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee