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April 27, 2024

The Unexpected Journey of a Las Vegas Blackjack Dealer to Broadway Stardom

Key Takeaways:

  • George Lee's Dual Life: A veteran blackjack dealer's past as a Broadway dancer is spotlighted in a new documentary.
  • Remarkable Talent: Lee's journey from dancing for rice in Shanghai to catching the eye of George Balanchine in New York.
  • Cultural Trailblazer: Participated in the groundbreaking musical "Flower Drum Song" with a nearly all-Asian cast.
  • From Stage to Casino: After a vibrant dance career, Lee transitioned to the world of casinos, spending 40 years at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino.

In Las Vegas, a city known for its dazzling lights and high-stakes gambling, one blackjack dealer's extraordinary past is taking center stage, thanks to a captivating new documentary titled "Ten Times Better". This isn't just any dealer's story; it's the life of George Lee, a man whose feet have graced both the polished floors of Broadway stages and the bustling carpets of the Four Queens Hotel & Casino.

The Unexpected Journey of a Las Vegas Blackjack Dealer to Broadway Stardom

George Lee's tale is one of resilience, talent, and the pursuit of dreams across continents. Born in Shanghai, China, Lee danced his way through the 1940s in nightclubs, a creative yet challenging endeavor during tumultuous times. His talent and determination led him away from the shadows of civil war to the bright lights of New York City, where fate would have him cross paths with one of ballet's greatest, George Balanchine.

Balanchine, impressed by Lee's natural talent, envisioned a role for him in a contemporary rendition of "The Nutcracker". Despite being sidelined from a permanent position in the New York City Ballet, Lee's Broadway dreams were far from over. His skills caught the attention of Gene Kelly, who cast him in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song", a pioneering project featuring a predominantly Asian cast, a rarity in the era's entertainment landscape.

After a successful 25-year stint in showbiz, Lee hung up his dance shoes and ventured into a new domain: the casino industry. His transition from the stage to the casino floor in Las Vegas marked the beginning of a four-decade career dealing cards, eventually rising to the role of a pit boss.

Jennifer Lin's documentary, "Ten Times Better", sheds light on Lee's multifaceted life, from his early days in Shanghai to his Broadway success and subsequent career in Las Vegas. The film is set to premiere at The Beverly Theater in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 7, to a sold-out audience. This premiere not only celebrates Lee's incredible journey but also highlights the rich, untold stories behind the city's vibrant casino life.

Lee's story, as featured in "Ten Times Better", is a reminder of the diverse paths life can take. From dancing for survival to dealing blackjack, George Lee's journey encapsulates a tale of adaptation, perseverance, and the relentless pursuit of passion, setting the stage for an inspiring documentary that resonates with dreamers and achievers alike.

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