Channing Pollock's artistry with doves
greatly inspired Lance Burton in developing his own magic act and showmanship
skills. Channing's excellent technical skills coupled with his handsome
appearance and commanding manner, made him an artistic and commercial success in
the 1950's. As a young boy practicing magic, Lance Burton was a fan of Channing
Pollock's dove magic. Features of Channing Pollock's act were the double dove
production and the dove to silk, both of which he originated. At the time of his
retirement from magic he was the undisputed top performer of his kind. Later he
became a screen actor and made a number of films.
Norm Nielsen who was trained at the
Chavez College of Magic became
well-known for his floating violin in his act "Musical Magic." He is a
recipient of the Best Stage Magician and Magician of the Year awards from the
Academy of Magical Arts.
Harry Collins probably had the most influence
on Lance Burton of all the magicians in the world. It started 32 years ago
at a Christmas party, when magician Harry Collins - who is memorialized in
a statue at Cave Hill Cemetery - pulled coins from Lance's ears. "When
I went on-stage and Harry pulled the silver dollars out from behind my ear;
it just had a profound impact on me," Burton said. "I had never
seen a magician before. I didn't know it was a trick. I thought I had money
behind my ears all this time." The well-dressed, well-mannered Kentucky
magician soon became Lance's mentor and followed his dedication and progress.
Lance Burton's mom Hilma Burton met Harry Collins where she had worked at
Frito-Lay in Louisville. Lance Burton retains and adheres to the strict ideals
laid down by his friend and tutor. In order to maintain the edge that keeps
him in a class of his own, Lance spends several hours each day relentlessly
studying, practicing and honing his craft.
Harry Blackstone Jr. was also a big
influence on Lance Burton. Blackstone Jr. was a touring magician who was very
popular in the Midwest. Lance Burton had attended his shows and vice versa in
Las Vegas. Blackstone did a Christmas show called "Holiday on Ice" as
well as the longest running magic show on Broadway. Blackstone Jr. and Sr. were
two of the most well-known American touring magicians. Lance Burton attended
Harry Blackstone Jr.'s memorial services in Palm Springs.
Harry Houdini, the most famous escape
artist of all time, was widely regarded as a magician and remains an
international legend in the field of magic. Lance Burton has done many dangerous
escape tricks in his NBC television specials. One of the most famous was Harry
Houdini's "Water Torture Death Tank" which he carried out for his NBC
TV special "The Encounter." Houdini developed the illusion but never
had the chance to do it. Lance Burton was also influenced by Houdini's numerous
John Thompson aka The Great Tomsoni
(John and Pam Thompson) has befriended Lance Burton for many years and helped to
influence his career in Las Vegas. John Thompson went into the "Vive Paris
Vive" show at the Aladdin where he performed every night for three years.
He met Lance Burton in the "Folies Bergere" at the Tropicana where
they both performed. Thompson is a noted close-up performer and is highly
respected in the trade show field. Thompson is accomplished in all areas of
magic and show business. He is the author of "Polished Polish
Prestidigitation" and "Coin in a Bottle - Plus." Thompson has
performed on "The Tonight Show" and created his own revue in Reno
called "Les Sorcery." He also writes Lance's comedy.
Lee Grabel was one of the top performing
magicians of the '40s and '50s. He created an elaborate full evening show.
One of his most famous acts was the "Floating Piano" illusion. In
1959, he retired from show business and began a second career in real estate
investment. He remained a friend and advisor to Lance Burton. Lee S life is
chronicled in the book "The Magic and Illusions of Lee Grabel."