Dan Stapleton

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World famous illusionist Harry Blackstone Jr. stated, "Vaudeville didn't die....it just went out to sea!" Although studying magic for many years, most of those years Dan has spent thrilling audiences from "sea to shining sea". One of the busiest "cruise ship" magicians, he has had the weekly opportunity to test new idea's and fine tune routines until he is satisfied with the response he wants. He quickly found out that not all magic tricks that are presented aboard cruise ships receive the same response from land-based audiences....and visa versa. Same thing with trade-show and convention work. "With a 45 min. 'after dinner show', you can take your time and offer slower, more dramatic vignettes. But if 10 min. is all you are hired for, the presentation had better be one of higher energy," Dan insists.

In 1983, sailing throughout the Mediterranean, Dan's ship would make weekly stops in Israel, Turkey, Greece and Egypt. He met members of the Israeli Magic Society and, on one visit, presented his lecture. Afterwards he received a proclamation honoring him as one of the first magicians to lecture their group since Israel became a State. During this same time, Dan was fortunate to be performing aboard the same ship which the popular television show, Love Boat, was using for filming. They needed extra's and Dan was one of those chosen to be in a number of scenes for the 2 two-hours specials.

Who would have guessed that 10 years later, he would be chained and shackled, leaping over the side of a cruise ship, a drop of 50 feet, into the Caribbean waters in performing a death defying escape. Why? Because, as he puts it, "I wanted to!" Talk about a "drop in the ocean"! Trade shows, conventions, hospitality suites and special events has also been a staple in Dan's career. From performing smaller venues such as in a boardroom, after a meeting held by a dozen Japanese businessmen, to performing on stage in the center of the Houston Astro Dome (for a highway construction equipment company), Dan has developed a "personal" show for a wide range of clients.

"I love the challenge of trade show and convention work. It allows me to use my imagination when selling clients products - weaving their product into a magical effect." He adds, "It doesn't matter what company or corporation hires me, the magic will always attract the attention of the potential clients and our company will be remembered long after the event is over." Dan was born in Milwaukee and raised in the nearby town of Waukesha. In high school, he was VP of the drama club, was elected senior class Treasurer, was a member of the student council, and lettered in pole vaulting, where he practiced his vaults in the same gym (field house) where recent gold medalist Paul Hamm perfected his gymnastics.

Although there were no magicians in the family, he remembers the first three tricks that were taught to him by his father and grandfather, which still fools some magicians today. His first paid performance was while in 8th grade, performing for a twins organization. "What a trip to look out into the audience with 100 sets of identical twins staring back. " Little did he realize that, years later, he would have a set of identical twin daughters for his very own. Now that's a lucky magician!

While in school, during a swimming exhibition, Dan jumped from the high dive, into the pool with two pairs of handcuffs behind his back. The impact from hitting the water created two cuts to his back with blood rising to the water's surface to an astonished crowd.

In the 1970's Dan was often sought after to perform and lecture the magic convention circuit. There he would explain some of his original creations and the finale to his "magic for magicians" act was turning a pair of doves into a beautiful white cat!

After moving to Florida, Dan became a demonstrator in the magic shops at Walt Disney World. "We had a small stage in the shop where we would present 15 minute performances, like a "dealers show" of the items we sold."

One early morning, soon after the park opened, Dan "levitated" Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's castle for a great photo op. He knew that, had he asked permission, the request would have been denied. However, being allowed to walk through the Haunted Mansion after the park had closed, gave Dan an insight and appreciation as to how the special effects were accomplished.

While working for Disney, he was spotted performing and was invited to perform for the Miss Florida Pageant. He magically produced a flower for each of the beauty contestants as they were introduced. Tough gig! Back stage, he kissed Miss Orlando, now actress Delta Burke, on the cheek and whispered, "You'll win!" Sure enough, she became the next Miss Florida. Dan and Delta dated a few times after that but as Dan confessed, "We were under tighter scrutiny than a KFC recipe"...and Delta moved up to stardom after moving to LA."

A family attraction was about to open and Dan was asked to design and build the Mystery Fun House Magic Shop. He left Disney, opened and operated the shop and this gave Dan more freedom to pursue the trade show and convention market. The American Dental Association asked Dan to theme an act that would, not only be entertaining, but also present a message to families about dental hygiene. It was at this moment that the gears started rolling in using his imagination in combining magic with corporate affairs. At night, Dan conducted a 10 week course of magic, from its history to the creation of a show, at the Seminole Community College.

The Orlando Florida Symphony was a huge entity in the Central Florida Arts community. An enormous media blitz and fund raising promotion called "Symphomania" ensued and a fictional "super hero" emerged. Dan performed magic throughout the city, usually concocting elaborate publicity stunts and became "Symphomania Man", spreading the goodwill of symphonic music throughout the community. For one stunt, Dan hung upside down in a straitjacket ala Houdini, high in the air, and another evening, was chained and handcuffed and lowered into a giant tank of water.

An agent noticed Dan (how could he not!) and invited him to perform at an ERA banquet hosted by Maureen Reagan, who's father was about to become our next President.

A new tourist attraction was opened, and Dan was asked to rewrite one of the shows that was part of the attraction. Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Baily Circus World had opened it's "all live" shows attraction and after making his suggestions as to how the Theatre of Illusion show be improved, he was invited to be the magician of that show. He stayed three years!

At Circus World, Dan was able to perform some of his favorite illusions that he was previously only able to see performed on television. His favorite illusion, the Dekolta Chair (making a woman disappear while she sits in a chair in the middle of the stage) was the closer of his show. Dan added to the effect, making the illusion much more than just a vanish. Famous Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried & Roy visited the show, were taken through the steps of Dan's updated version of the illusion, only to have them perform a similar version in their first television special. It was at this family attraction where Dan met his wife, Faryln, who was one of the parks elephant trainers and one of the performers in the main circus show. She later became one of Dan's assistants in his illusion show. They were married a few years later on the island of St. Thomas, while performing aboard a cruise ship. It was at Circus World while, before hundreds of horrified spectators, that Dan nearly lost his life while performing "Escape From The Hurricane", a roller-coaster escape. A dramatic poster was created in advertising the event and the story appeared in many of the area newspapers. This was 20 years before popular magician Lance Burton performed a similar stunt on television.

Dan left Circus World and created The Magic of Marriott, hiring magicians who could personalize the name of Marriott into the strolling magicians acts while patrons waited for dinner to begin. When companies held their conventions at Marriott, this gave Dan the opportunity, again, to use his imagination incorporating his magic into the convention sponsors name and product. It was at this time that Dan wanted to try his hand (or sleight of hand) performing "on the ocean". After a few years of performing his shows, he was invited to be the next Cruise Director, as well as still perform his show.

Between performing contracts aboard the various ships, Dan traveled across country promoting the cruise industry on local television and radio programs for CLIA (Cruise Line International Association).

While on board, Dan had the opportunity to present magic for the corporate groups who used the ship as a "convention at sea". One year, Mary Kay Products leased out the ship as did Alergan Pharmaceuticals. It was a challenge when companies leased out the ship for theme cruises such as an Irish cruise, Jazz or Country cruise...and even....a nudist cruise (really). Dan wrote about these various cruises, along with other colorful escapades about his life at sea, for an ongoing column in the popular magician's magazine, MAGIC.

Dan often mixes business with pleasure. He has chaired and organized three Florida Magicians Association Conventions and three magic theme cruises. He was President of the Florida Magicians Association in 1995 and is a life member of the Society of American Magicians and is an IBM (International Brotherhood of Magicians) Order of Merlin member.

Dan, Faryln and twin daughters Amber & Ashley live in Orlando. Dan's son, Jeremy, although not a magician, has made many dollars hustling fellow Air Force personnel after watching a series of card-magic video tapes that dad produced (click "Products"). Dan is currently designing his second magic set (his first set, "Top Ten Magic Set" is generally sold after his shows) and his present non-magic project is writing a book (for teenagers) about the US Presidents.

Dan's mind is constantly working on new projects, often having four or five "works in progress" at the same time. From designing magic for companies and corporations to performing aboard the ships, he still, somehow, manages to have a (somewhat) normal life at home. Now that is quite a trick!

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To Contact Dan

(407) 491-3287

E MAIL sales@stapletonmagicom

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