Lance Burton achievement is a quintessential American success story. He was born into a secure and loving farm family in Kentucky on March 10, 1960. His introduction to the world of magic began before his sixth birthday as a result of being taken to a Christmas party where the featured performer was a magician. He asked for a volunteer and an eager Lance bolted up onto the stage. The maestro performed a trick known as "The Misers Dream" and (seemingly) pulled silver dollars out of his bewildered, impressionable assistants ear. "Wow!" was Lances thought, "What a great way to make money and people like you too."
The hook was in. From that moment on, he knew what he wanted inn life and nothing would deter him from it.
The progression toward eventual stardom was both consistent and stead. A neighbor, hearing of young Lances new interest, gave him a book, "Magic Made Easy," which her now grown children has 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. His first foray into the field of magical patter, happened when his mother bought him one of Marshall Bodiens (the great TV pitch man) "TV Magic Cards." Not knowing how to do otherwise, Lance used Marshalls lines straight off the commercial. "My names Lance Burton magic is easy when you know the secret!" Then came the gifts of magic sets at birthday and Christmas times. He spent all of his allowance and chores money buying all the latest wonders at the local Magic Shop in Louisville. The boys zeal and perseverance did not go unnoticed.
Harry Collins (the man who 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 his 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 Lances education was spent perfecting the art of misdirect. His superb mastery of this art has earned Lance the title, "A Magicians Magician." Harrys traditional approach to magic affected the foundation, upon which his protégé would build his future career. He always dressed in tails and acted as a magician and "most impressive," from the point of view of his pupil, "he was very much a gentleman on stage."
Lance has never forgotten the advice Harry Collins drilled into his mind, "if you want to go on stage as a magician, you should look like a magician." He also counseled Lance against being caught up in the wearing of colorful tie-dye T-shirts and jeans as so many young magicians were doing; hoping by aping a well known performers style, that they too would reap success. Harry in his wisdom, saw this as a faddish trend that would eventually fade. He was right. Lance bought his first suit of tails at 14. He recalls with a chuckle, "I didnt really look like a magician when I was that age, but – I had the tails."
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 his "big break" would come. The recognition form 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 for there annual "Its Magic" show and used their contacts to have him introduced to all of America. This led to his first appearance on "The Tonight Show" hosted by Johnny Carson. This one appearance put Lance Burton permanently into the pages of magic history.
It was a well-accepted fact that the most time any unknown performer could hope for on "The Tonight Show" was eight minutes – at best! Johnny who loves magic, watched Lances dress rehearsal and told his staff to rearrange the taping so that Lance could present his full 12 minute at. When Johnny Carson led a standing ovation and proclaimed to both his studio audience and his millions of viewers, that "Lance Burton was "a beautiful classy act, the best Ive ever seen!" A new professional performer entered the scene.
The offers poured in. Lance wisely accepted an eighth week trial engagement at the prestigious "Folies Bergere" in Las Vegas. He contract broke all records after he performed in the show for nine years. 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." (Federation International Societe de Magic) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He honored his country on July 10, 1982 by winning the "Grand Prix" that recognized him as a "World Champion Magician." Lance Burton was both the first American and the youngest performer to be so honored. The star continued to ascend.
On April 21, 1996 Lance Burton gave his last performance and concluded his fifth and final year in the Fiesta Theater at the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. A fete, that confounds the pundits who stated, "it cannot be done!" They had reasoned that a true, classically conceived magic show could not make it in a city where only larger than life illusions and high tech gimmickry had become the norm. Fortunately, for both Lance Burton and the art of magic, they had predicted wrongly. His show proved to be the most successful attraction in the 35-year history of the Hacienda broke every record for attendance. Ticket agencies report that Lance drew the highest rate of repeat ticket buyers in recent memory.
It is important to Lance that his show is in a continuous state of flux, as he dreams up and brings to reality his latest creations for generations of audiences to enjoy. His magic art provides him with a vast canvas on which to portray his skills and imagination. It has been truly stated that, "Lance has sought out, found and brought back the lost classical soul of magic, and made it uniquely his own, and in this he has no peers."