Lance Burton's achievement is a quintessential American success story.
Born on a farm in Lexington, Kentucky on March 10, 1960, Lance's introduction to the world of magic began before his sixth birthday as a result of being taken to a Christmas party by his mother, where the featured performer was magician Harry Collins. He asked for a volunteer and an eager Lance bolted up onto the stage. The maestro performer a trick known as "The Miser's Dream" and (seemingly) pulled silver dollars out of his bewildered, impressionable assistant's ear. Lance thought, "What a great way to make money and people like you too."
(At left: Steve Dacri and Lance Burton at a recent magic convention)
The hook was in. From that moment on, he knew what he wanted in life and nothing would deter him from it.
The progression towards eventual international stardom was both consistent and steady. A neighbor, hearing of young Lance's new interest, gave him a book, "Magic Made Easy," which her now grown children had used. It contained 10 tricks, all of which Lance swiftly learned and performed for his neighborhood friends. The fee charged for admission was five cents per head. The child's zeal and perseverance were not going unnoticed.
Harry Collins, the man who had impressed Lance years before, was a full-time professional magician in Kentucky. He noted the intense devotion the young boy was putting into his magic act. Lance entered his teens and Harry became his mentor. The die cast by this teaming molded the classical education of a future magic star. Under this expert and wise tutelage, Lance learned both the fundamentals and techniques of performing sleight-of-hand, and the correct way to manipulate playing cards. An important portion of Lance's education was spent in perfecting the art of misdirection. His superb mastery of this art has earned Lance the title, "A Magician's Magician."
Lance Burton entered his first competition as a junior magician at a convention in 1977 and walked away with first prize. His maturity as a performer was becoming evident. It was no longer a matter of if, but when, the "break" would come. The recognition from his peers continued. In 1980, shortly after his 20th birthday, Lance Burton became the first winner of the coveted "Gold Medal for Excellence" from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Lance decided that the time was right to leave home and move to Southern California. Bill and Milt Larsen immediately signed him up for their annual "It's Magic" show and used their contacts to have him introduced to all of America by Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show." This one appearance put Lance Burton permanently into the pages of magic history.
(At left: Lance makes a surprise appearance at the Las Vegas party for Johnny Thompson and Pam)
The offers poured in for the new star.
Lance wisely accepted an eight-week trial engagement at the prestigious "Folies Bergere" in Las Vegas. His contract broke all records by being extended for nine years. In a rare act of courage, Lance decided to put his professional career on the line and asked the management if he could take a week off to enter the competition at "F.I.S.M." (Fédération International Société de Magie) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He honored his country on July 10, 1982 by winning the "Grande Prix" that recognized him as a "World Champion Magician." Lance Burton was both thefirst American and the youngest performer to be so honored. His star continued to ascend.
Lance was brought back to "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson nine more times, for a total of 10 appearances and has appeared 5 more times with Jay Leno as the host. He was twice awarded "Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts.
He was honored to have performed for President Reagan, (during his presidency) and Mrs. Reagan, in Washington, D.C.
Presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, after a Royal Command Performance at London's venerable Palladium Theatre.
Produced, directed and wrote his own show, which opened at the Hacienda Hotel in mid-1991 and played to packed houses for five years.
On May 12, 1994 Lance Burton was given the honor of having the "Mantle of Magic" passed to him from Master Magician Lee Grabel which made Lance the new member of what has been called "The Royal Dynasty of Magic." This honor, which can neither be bought nor sold, has been passed in an unbroken line beginning from Kellar to Thurston in 1908, to Dante in 1936, to Lee Grabel in 1955 and to Lance Burton in 1994 who is now charged to take his classically conceived art boldly into the 21st Century!
On August 11, 1994 Lance Burton entered into a contract to star in, produce and direct a new and lavish version of his, already great, magic show in the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino which opened on June 21, 1996. This 13-year contract is the longest legal agreement ever given to any entertainer in Las Vegas history. And apart from the financial terms which are significant, the greatest honor of all was to have a $27 million theatre built especially for him and designed to his specifications which has been named The Lance Burton Theatre. It is the first time a showroom was ever named for an entertainer.
In 1998, the first Blackstone Theatre Award was presented to Lance Burton for excellence in the arts.
Lance Burton recently completed his fourth TV special which will be shown worldwide along with a new television special featuring young magicians. His specials air regularly on FOX Family Channel and internationally. He's a regular guest on talk shows such as "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and "The Late, Late Show" with Craig Kilborn.
His homecoming was in November of 1999 when the Louisville native returned to his hometown to perform five shows at the 2,000-seat Kentucky Center for the Arts. He also performed at the Cerritos Center for the Arts in California in 1999 and 2000 selling out the $70 million theatre.
In nearly every poll Lance Burton has been voted "Best Magician" and "Best Entertainer." In the R-J's 1999 Editor's Poll he was chosen as "Favorite Male Las Vegan" for his contributions to community charities. Especially The Shriners, The Variety Club and New Vista Ranch.
The Legend Continues!