He didn’t make Duluth disappear, but David Copperfield did visit the Twin Ports twice in the 1980s. The showman who brought magic back to the mainstream masses performed at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center in 1986, and again in 1988.
David Copperfield entertains a crowd with his magic at the Duluth Auditorium. Here he’s loading a small cannon with a duck he calls Webster, who will be shot through the air and will land in a caged box covered by an assistant. (1986 file / News Tribune)
In his November 1986 show, a News Tribune review of the event said: "Copperfield’s illusions are like magical music videos. They are skillfully choreographed, keenly lit, well-paced performances that keep audiences asking the proverbial question: ‘How did he do that?’ "
About 1,800 people attended the 70-minute show in which Copperfield levitated an unsuspecting member of the audience, performed a vanishing act and employed a duck named Webster for various other magic tricks.
Anyone out there remember attending the show?
Copperfield’s vanishing act was one of his more popular feats. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Copperfield had several television specials devoted to his magic. One in 1983 featured Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. And KBJR news anchor Michelle Lee magically appeared in a promotional photo for the TV program. (OK, it’s not really Duluth’s Michelle Lee, but rather the "Knots Landing" actress of the same name. You might need to do a double-take, though.)
1983 file / News Tribune
Copperfield retuned to Duluth in December 1988, this time for two shows. His gimmick for these performances was escaping from padlocks and chains binding his arms and legs before the "Death Saw" cut him in half.
Below, Copperfield’s perfectly styled hair is about to get a taste of "THE SAW." He seems unconcerned that death is near.
1988 file / News Tribune
According to the review of his 1988 performance, Copperfield’s other feats included cracking a live canary out of a chicken egg; changing a $100 bill into a $1 bill; making a person vanish, then appear in a box the size of a portable TV; and getting some woman in the audience to give him her telephone number. (The guy was engaged to Claudia Schiffer, did he really need to put his magic spell on a … oh wait, I bet that’s how he got the supermodel.)
David Copperfield gave instructions to Michelle Lindberg of Duluth as he performed a trick of reading her mind and gaining her telephone numbers telepathically. (1988 file / News Tribune)
Before making it big with supermodels and CBS specials, Copperfield was just a blip on the magic radar when this photo was taken in 1978. Does anyone think he bears a striking resemblance to Sascha Baron Cohen, particularly Cohen’s alter-ego "Bruno"?
1978 file / News Tribune