The Great Tomsoni & Co.

A Letter from Lance Burton

Fielding West, Lance Burton and TomsoniMagician, Comedian, Actor, Producer, Writer, Director, Musician, Gambling Consultant, Sword Swallower, Fire Eater, Sewer Maintenance Foreman... these are all honorable professions. Any one of them would require years of dedication to master. Johnny Thompson has mastered them all, along with perhaps a few others which time and discretion do not allow me to mention. He has not only mastered these skill, but has made his living at each of them during various periods of his life. By the way, some of his most entertaining anecdotes are from his Sewer Maintenance days. Although they are not considered his profession, I would also add teacher and friend to this list.

I first met Johnny and Pam in 1979. Joe Stevens hired me to perform at his magic convention in Wichita Kansas. I was 19 years old and had never been that far away from Kentucky. For me the highlight of the convention was meeting Johnny Thompson. I saw him perform close-up magic, parlour magic, and his classic "Tomsoni" act on the stage show. Everything he did was simply superb! I just couldn't fathom how one man could learn so much magic and make every trick his own. Everything he did was funny and entertaining and magical. Like most teenagers, I thought I knew just about everything. The day I met Johnny Thompson, I realized I knew practically nothing about the art of magic.

My story would end right here except for one thing. As it turns out, Johnny is not only the most knowledgeable and proficient magician I have ever met, he is also a great teacher who is happy to share his knowledge. I must have pestered him to death at our first encounter. I followed him around the convention, asking questions, observing, soaking in as much as I could. He took it all with compassion and good humor. I returned home, my head spinning with new possibilities, my dedication to magic deeper than ever before. I had a new goal, I had to be as good as Johnny Thompson! a goal I still strive for today!

To recount what I have learned from Johnny these past twenty years would require several encyclopedia-size volumes. Over the years we have had conversations covering Illusion design, close-up magic, acting, performing, Iikeability, gambling, costuming, joke writing, bombing, and many, many more subjects essential to becoming a good magician. Johnny has written material for my TV shows as well as my live act. He has been intimately involved in all aspects of my career. From teaching me the "Cups and Balls" to suggesting music for new routines... from inventing new stage illusions to giving me jokes out of his own act... Johnny has been a living oracle.

To put it simply, I have learned more about magic from Johnny Thompson than anyone else in the world. If one day I decide to become a Sewer Maintenance Foreman, I know where to go to get that knowledge, too.

Johnny's performing career has encompassed Television, Las Vegas Showrooms, Night Clubs, and Theaters. Johnny and Pam have performed in Europe, Asia, South America, North America, Africa, and on the high seas. Over the years the "Tomsoni" act has gone from simply being a great act to a classic act. Johnny has influenced a whole generation of magicians. His influence can be seen today and, I predict, will be seen a hundred years from now.

The Masters Fellowship is awarded in recognition of a life time devoted to magic. It is given to recognize a performer who is a "Master Magician". I can think of no other magician who deserves this award more than my good friend and mentor Johnny Thompson. For all you have done for magic, for all the millions of people you have entertained, and for all you have done for me personally, CONGRATULATIONS!... and "Tank you berry muuuuch".

--Lance Burton