Family & Companions
Dubbed a modern day Houdini, David Blaine defied not only death, but easy categorization, as he moved from performing amazing acts of street magic in front of awestruck crowds, to breaking several world records with his unbelievable feats of endurance. Emerging from the hard-scrabble boroughs of New York City and the celebrity party circuit, Blaine's reputation as an unconventional prestidigitator earned him his first TV special "David Blaine: Street Magic" (ABC, 1997). An instant media sensation, he quickly followed with "David Blaine: Magic Man" (ABC, 1999), which followed him as he astonished bystanders in far-flung locales like Venezuela and Haiti. He took things to a new level with endurance stunts that saw him buried alive under New York's Trump Place in 1999 and later encased in a block of ice in Times Square for the televised special "David Blaine: Frozen in Time" (ABC, 2000). Future endeavors, recorded for posterity on such specials as "David Blaine: Vertigo" (ABC, 2002), "David Blaine: Drowned Alive" (ABC, 2006) and "David Blaine: Dive of Death" (ABC, 2008), began to prompt more questions of "why does he do it?" than of "how does he do it?" Undeterred by skeptics or critics, Blaine continued to push the boundaries of human endurance and the laws of physics, much to the delight of fans who wondered what the illusionist-daredevil would do next.
Born David Blaine White in Brooklyn, NY on April 4, 1973, he was inspired by his mother Patrie White, a gypsy, to first practice magic. His interest peaked at the young age of four, when Blaine witnessed a subway magician performing various deftly executed sleight of hand tricks. It was this early chance encounter and the influence of his beloved mother that sowed the seeds of an obsession which would forever alter the young boy's future. By the age of 10, Blaine's mother remarried and the family moved from New York to New Jersey. During his teen years, Blaine took regular trips back to home to pursue acting. He was fortunate enough to land some commercials and appearances on daytime dramas. When Blaine turned 17, he moved back to the city and took residence in the notorious Hell's Kitchen. In 1994, Blaine's mother died of ovarian cancer. The loss did not stifle his burning desire to perform. Blaine continued with his plan to be the best magician he could be, even pushing the art form beyond perceptions of what magic could and could not be.
Blaine's name began circulating when he began performing at celebrity parties. Confident in his entertaining abilities, Blaine decided to venture out to greater heights by sending a tape of his craft to ABC studios. The response he received was overwhelming and an interview was immediately requested. The result was "David Blaine: Street Magic" (ABC, 1997), which introduced the world to his talent, ability and charm. It was after this television special that Blaine's life story was optioned by Robert De Niro's production company, Tribeca, for a big screen treatment. Two years later, David co-directed his second TV special "David Blaine: Magic Man" (ABC, 1999). Unlike "Street Magic," "Magic Man" was shot like a movie and took his show to a whole new level. Then in April of that same year, Blaine overcame a fear that Houdini had always possessed a fear of being buried alive. He conquered this by burying himself underground at the Trump Place in New York City without food and water. He emerged emaciated and weak after seven days. In November 2000, Blaine performed what was known as the greatest feat ever. He froze himself in a six-ton block of ice in Times Square. Close to one million people watched him emerge from the block of ice 61 hours later on a live television special called "David Blaine: Frozen In Time" (ABC, 2000). Blaine took his act outside of the U.S. in December 2000. He released his first video in the United Kingdom, which was a compilation of "Street Magic" and "Magic Man." The video, titled "Mystifier," blew the United Kingdom viewers away. Blaine "mystified" the U.K. and as a result, they nominated him for a BVA award (British Video Association) as well as a HEW (Home Entertainment Weekly) award. In November 2001, Blaine released "Showman," his second video in the U.K. The video showed his "Frozen In Time" special in addition to unseen footage dating back to his first street performance.
Blaine's next feat was in May 2002 when he hoisted himself on top of an 83-foot pillar in New York City's Bryant Park. He balanced on the pillar for 35 hours, apparently with no safety nets, before jumping off and landing on a 12 foot-high pile of boxes. While some have described his performances as stunts, Blaine eschewed such descriptions of his antics, preferring instead to call what he does "art pieces." Whether or not putting one's self into mortal jeopardy could be deemed artistic, Blaine provoked reactions, both positive and negative, from audiences. Meanwhile, he released his first book, Mysterious Stranger, a combination of autobiography, how-to for illusionists and history of magic in November 2002.
For his next trick, Blaine crossed the Atlantic to London where in September 2003 he suspended himself above the Thames river in a clear box and starved himself for 44 days. Some Londoners failed to embrace Blaine's presence, with many hurling taunts and insults, while others threw eggs or launched golf balls from a nearby course. A few even cooked hamburgers underneath his suspended cage, letting the delicious smells of grilled beef waft upwards to the starving artist. Despite the scorn, Blaine survived the ordeal, even giving doctors a rare test case of long-term starvation for research purposes. Doctors discovered that Blaine had lost a quarter of his original body weight while showing signs of liver impairment. He also had vitamin B1 and B6 deficiency, highly elevated B12 levels, and very low levels of insulin - all signs of serious starvation. Blaine received liquid meals and intravenous nutritional supplements his first three days in hospital. He left the hospital's care after five days. With each new stunt, Blaine had the compulsion to one-up himself. Over the years, he talked with friends and the media about his dream stunt - getting shot in the shoulder, pulling the bullet out of his body and getting up to walk away.
Meanwhile, he prepared for his next stunt, submerging himself underwater for seven days and seven nights, then attempting to break the record for holding one's breath underwater. He prepared by going on a severe workout regimen that included training with the Navy SEALS and confinement inside a prison cell. Then in May 2006, Blaine was submerged inside a giant sphere filled with water at Lincoln Center in New York City and spent the next week underwater with the aide of a breathing tube. He fasted prior to entering the tank to avoid dispensing solid waste. Liquid food went into Blaine via feeding tubes and came out through a catheter. After several days underwater, Blaine began complaining of joint pain and an earache, while his hands and feet were shriveled to the point of looking like wet cement. Blaine prepared to emerge from the tank, but not before attempting to break the world's record for holding his breath underwater. To make matters more interesting, Blaine was handcuffed several times by a New York City police officer, setting himself up for a greater challenge than even he anticipated. As usual, network television carried a live two-hour special, "David Blaine: Drowned Alive" (ABC, 2006), which spent a majority of its airtime showing Blaine's preparations and highlights from previous feats of endurance. A large crowd gathered at Lincoln Center to see whether or not he would break the record and as the big moment neared, the officer entered the tank and bound Blaine in chains. He held his breath for several minutes while removing the cuffs with a key. Though he got the chains removed, his body began convulsing around the seven minute mark and a rescue team dove into the sphere and pulled him out. Revived and coherent, an emotional Blaine was removed from the tank, waving to adoring fans. But the record stood at eight minutes, 58 seconds. Meanwhile, Blaine's body suffered from harsh punishment; he had liver damage, loss of sensation and rashes.
Blaine entered a somewhat more traditional field of entertainment when he acted in "Mister Lonely" (2007), a quirky dramedy about celebrity impersonators by earlier Blaine collaborator and indie filmmaker Harmony Korine. He later appeared as himself in "The Great Buck Howard" (2008), another dramedy about a down-on-his-luck magician (John Malkovich) and his young assistant (Colin Hanks). He attempted to awe television audiences and passersby once more with "David Blaine: Dive of Death" (ABC, 2008), which found him suspended upside down above Central Park's Wollman ice skating rink for 60 hours. His latest stunt drew mixed reviews, however, after spectators saw him taking hourly "standing breaks" atop a platform, and the climactic "dive of death" appeared to resemble a mere bungee jump. The following year, Blaine made a rare guest appearance on "Ellen's Bigger, Longer & Wider Show" (TBS, 2009), a variety spectacle featuring a wide array of acts and performances. Blaine found a new television home on basic cable with "David Blaine: What is Magic?" (Travel Channel, 2010), a combination of amazing street prestidigitation demonstrations and death-defying feats, followed by "David Blaine: Beautiful Struggle" (Travel Channel, 2010), a revealing retrospective of his life and career. In January of 2011, Blaine performed street magic for 72 straight hours with "Magic for Haiti," ultimately raising nearly $100,000 for the island nation recently devastated by a massive earthquake.
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Filmed first television special "David Blaine: Street Magic" for ABC
Directed and starred in his second ABC special "David Blaine: Magic Man"
Buried himself alive without food and water for seven days
Starred in his third television special "David Blaine: Frozen In Time"
Released "Mystifier" on video/DVD which was compilation of his previous television specials to the United Kingdom
Released "Showman" his second video/DVD to the United Kingdom
Starred in his fourth television special "David Blaine: Vertigo"
Went 44 days without food and was suspended in a plexiglass box next to the Thames