"I want to bring magic to a level where Houdini had it a hundred years ago. When you thought of magic, you were intrigued... you were emotionally moved by it. It had a meaning and a purpose." - David Blaine
David Blaine was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 4, 1973. His father was Puerto Rican and Italian and his mother, Patrice Maureen White, was of Jewish and Russian origin. He was inspired particularly by his mother to experiment with magic and by the age of four after he had seen a street performer in action, David tried his first card trick routine.
As a young adult, Blaine moved back to the city, to the notorious neighbourhood commonly referred to as Hell's Kitchen. Tragically, his mother was stricken with cancer around the same time and passed away in 1994, when Blaine was just 21. Yet if anything the loss spurred on his burning ambition to perform.
He began to make a name for himself at celebrity functions by doing magic tricks for famous people, such as Mike Tyson and Al Pacino. Through a common contact, he struck a friendship with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Eventually, David decided to have a go at the big time, so he made a tape of a performance and sent it to ABC. The response was tremendous and an interview was requested soon after. His first special was later produced, David Blaine: Street Magic and it became a ratings hit in 1997. Two years later, David Blaine: Magic Man followed and David was soon in demand on the talk show circuit. David strengthened his career by bringing street magic to the public, performing card tricks and illusions such as levitating himself. His first television appearance was on Conan O'Brien, where he also performed card tricks, and promoted his Street Magic special.
Whilst David Blaine might not be one of the greatest innovators where card tricks are concerned, he is included in this list of great card magicians mainly owing to the way that he has revitalised the performance of often simple card tricks or card sleights and brought them to a whole new audience in the modern world.