David Blaine White is an American illusionist, endurance artist and extreme performer. He is best known for his high-profile feats of endurance, and has set and broken several world records. Blaine innovated the way magic is shown on television by focusing on spectator reactions.

He was born on April 4, 1973, to a single mother in Brooklyn, New York. A street performer provided Blaine’s introduction to magic, as the curious 4-year-old waited for a subway train. Magic was not his only interest, however, and Blaine went on to attend the Neighborhood Playhouse drama school and appeared in several TV commercials and soap operas.

When Blaine was 21, his mother was stricken with cancer and passed away in 1994. Though grief-stricken, he continued to perform and make a name for himself at celebrity functions by doing magic tricks for famous people, such as Mike Tyson, Al Pacino and David Geffen.

David Blaine made a tape of a magic performance and sent it to ABC, where the response was tremendous. His first special, David Blaine: Street Magic, was a ratings hit in 1997. David Blaine: Magic Man followed two years later. In 1999, Blaine performed his first endurance stunt, and in 2000, he followed with “Frozen in Time” in which he was frozen into a block of ice for 72 hours. Two years later, he stood on a 100-foot pillar for 35 hours in “Vertigo.”

Unfortunately, there were more skeptics than supporters during 2003’s “Above the Below,” which involved Blaine living in a glass box suspended by the River Thames in London for 44 days, without food. The stunt gained worldwide media coverage, and thousands gathered at the site near Tower Bridge to witness his release.

In New York in 2006, his “human aquarium” stunt involved submersion in a water-filled sphere for seven days, receiving air and food through tubes. In a dramatic finale, he failed in his attempt to break the world record for holding breath under water, while simultaneously escaping heavy chains.