Q: When did magician David Copperfield take up magic? Is that his real name? When and where was he born? -- W.L., Elmira, N.Y.
A: David Seth Kotkin was born Sept. 16, 1956, in Metuchen, N.J. He learned his first magic trick from his grandfather when he was 7. By the time he was 12, he was performing professionally under the name "Davino, the Boy Magician" and was inducted into the Society of American Magicians. He worked as an adjunct professor at New York University at age 16.
Copperfield has grossed more than $4 billion in ticket sales, which is more than any other solo entertainer in history. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 21 Emmys and 11 Guinness World Records.
Q: Several years ago, I visited Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Going there is an emotional experience. Are there records that tell us who the very first person was who came through the processing station on his or her way to a better life in America? -- T.L., New Ulm, Minn.
A: On Jan. 1, 1892, arriving with two younger brothers, 15-year-old Annie Moore from County Cork, Ireland, was the first person to pass through the newly opened processing station at Ellis Island. Her parents immigrated to the United States three years earlier. Moore remained in New York City until her death in 1923. In 1993, Irish President Mary Robinson attended a ceremony in which a bronze statue of Annie Moore was unveiled in the island's museum.
Q: There is a place in the United States called Four Corners, the only place where four states meet -- Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
A: There isn't, but one place is close. Four African countries -- Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- almost meet at one point (called a "quadripoint"). The borders are actually 100 to 150 meters away from being a quadripoint.
Q: When was the Barbie doll introduced? What about Ken? -- P.D., Duncan, Okla.
A: Barbie was introduced in March 1959, at the American Toy Fair in New York City. The Ken doll was introduced in 1961. Ruth Handler developed Barbie and Ken, and she named them after her children, Barbara and Kenneth.
Q: Los Angeles is pretty much located in a desert. Why does it have an NBA team called the Lakers? -- I.J., Huntsville, Ala.
A: The Lakers were formed in 1947 from the remnants of National Basketball League's Detroit Gems. The newly formed Minnesota Lakers, based out of Minneapolis, played one season in the NBL before moving to the National Basketball Association. The team was named after Minnesota's nickname, "the Land of 1,000 Lakes." When the Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960, the name was not changed.
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