Personal life and early career
Burton was born as Iris Burstein in 1930 in Manhattan, New York City, and made a career as a child dancer, later appearing in several Broadway musicals under the name Iris Burton. In the early 1950s, she moved to Hollywood, appearing as a dancer in several films such as Top Banana (1954) and The Ten Commandments (1956).
Burton was well known for discovering the Phoenix brothers (River Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix, and their sisters Rain, Liberty and Summer) when their mother Arlyn (Heart) Phoenix came to her and demanded she meet her children as she pleaded they had special talent. Iris was intrigued by an article written about a competition that the children had won and arranged an appointment. She worked with River throughout his short career.
Burton and her relationship with Greg Sestero is described in a chapter of Sestero's 2013 memoir The Disaster Artist. Sestero portrays Burton as a warm, quick-witted agent who took on representing him despite his lack of experience and ultimately led him to his first big roles. This chapter was dramatized briefly in the 2017 film adaptation of the book, with Burton portrayed by Sharon Stone.
- Obituary: Iris Burton, Hollywood agent, The Age, April 17, 2008.
- Garrett, Dianne (April 8, 2008). "Children's agent Iris Burton dies at 77". Variety. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Sestero, Greg; Bissell, Tom (2014-10-07). The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476730400.