Edgar and Charlie on the Move
Thanks to Doug Preis


Question:  Do you know who carries the Hipster? I will be doing some walk around ventriloquism at the end of January. Jim
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From Mr. D:  Yes, our son, Kevin (seen here), sells the hip-style side-by-side stand.  You will find details on his Animated Puppet page: http://www.animatedpuppets.blogspot.com/

You can also email him at: animatedpuppets@charter.net


Complete Guide to Ventriloquism

A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VENTRILOQUISM: Principles, Practice and Performance.  By Naveen Sridhar, Ph.D.  I've read many books on the subject of ventriloquism, but even after a 50+ year career, I still found this in-depth work to be fresh, captivating, and informative.  241 pages, extremely detailed, covering everything about the art, from basics to advanced performance.  Unique in that the author gives great attention to detail including the psychological basis of the art.  
You will find all this and more details under http://www.ventriloquism-book.com/. The book is now on sale at Amazon (proceed to the Amazon.com site and type in “Naveen” and “ventriloquism” to reach the landing page).
The author was born in India and moved to Germany in his youth.  Using the stage name "Yakasha", he worked as a professional magician and ventriloquist, performing and lecturing for various organizations around the world.  Fluent in eight languages, and experienced in both performance with his dummies as well as advanced techniques such as echo, telephone voice, and more, Dr. Sridhar is well qualified to lead you and your ventriloquial skills to a new dimension.


The Dummy's Soul

By I. V. Norman

V: I was glad to see you at church today.  What were you praying about?
F: I was asking the Lord to put vitamins in pie and cake instead of vegetables.
V: Well, that's pretty selfish. my boy.
F: Oh, I asked the Lord to take care of the President, the Mayor, the Governor, and even you.  And I ended my prayers with, "Oh Lord, be sure to take care of yourself, or else we're all sunk."
V: Yes.  Well, I didn't hear you answer when the minister asked you what sins of omission were.
F: Oh, I answered.
V: Well then - what did you say?
F: Oh, I said they were sins we ought to have committed and haven't.
V: Did you understand the minister's sermon about temptation?
F: Well, I guess so, Although I don't get this, "Oh Lord, lead us not into temptation."  It seems to me all he has to do is tell us where it is and we'll find it ourselves.
V: I can see you just didn't understand what the minister's sermon was about.
F: Well I did know that the Goliath the minister was talking about was the fellow David rocked to sleep.
V: You misinterpret everything the minister says.
F:  I did understand it when he said that Moses had indigestion.
V: I didn't hear that.
F: Well, the minister did say, "God gave Moses two tablets..."!
V: Oh, my.  Going to church is wasted on you.  You didn't even understand the message in Jonah and the Whale.
F: Yes, I did.  The morale was, "You can't keep a good man down!"
V: Why did you run out of church before the end of the sermon?
F: Well, the minister kept asking, "Who led the children of Israel into Canaan?", and he kept looking at me.  So I just stood up and yelled, "It wasn't me Parson!"
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From Vent-O-Gram, Vol. 1, No. 7 1963. On eBay auction now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290661518538


Rare Vintage DOUBLE TALK

Here's another rare issue of DOUBLE TALK ventriloquist newsletter for sale.  April 1938, Vol. 1 No. 6.  Original (not a copy).  14 pages, mimeographed. 8.5 X 11"  Yellowed pages due to age, with some slight tattering along edges, but other wise in good condition.  eBay listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260942096611

As a past newsletter publisher myself, and having experienced the timeless problem of finding writers for columns and articles, it made me smile to read how, Revello Petee, publisher of Double Talk, seemed to struggle with the same issue.  Petee wrote:

"We take it that you readers do not want a contest for the best article of the year.  You don't seem to be trying very hard for the figure which we are going to give away in Nov.  Unless you show more interest the contest will be discontinued after Nov."

About his figures I spotted this comment by Petee:  "Now offering a complete line of hand carved wood head figures.  Our figures are carved from California Sugar Pine, which when kiln dried positively will not check or crack." 

And it seems that there was another problem in 1938 that never changed over the decades that followed:  Petee wrote: "There are two or three vents that send in each month for a sample copy of 'Double Talk'.  These fellows always change their name each month but use the same address.  They are not subscribers and we have not been able to sign them up.  Several reports have come in stating that these fellow are writing to subscribers of D.T. asking to borrow their copies.  The subscription cost is well within the reach of all, so tell them to go to grass.  These fellows are chiselers and a disgrace to the profession of ventriloquism.  You paid your dollar and they can do the same."  

(And I do believe the subscription rate for the newsletter in 1938 was only one dollar per year...today just the postage cost to mail out this one single issue will be double that!)


From "down under"...

From Glenn Pearce:

I was talking to the great Australian ventriloquist Chris Kirby last night, and his classic figure – Terry – the one he has used all his life including appearing on Ed Sullivan, doing Royal Command performances, having his own tonight show on TV, touring with the likes of Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey etc was made for him more than fifty years ago by an Australian (Adelaide) figure maker called Eric Scuse.  Eric was very active in the brotherhood of ventriloquists or whatever the ventriloquist association was called at the time.  Have you ever heard of Eric or seen any of his wooden figures that made their way to the US?

Eric was an extremely clever and talented figure maker. Eric was the Frank Marshall of Australia. Whenever Chris appeared on national television apparently Eric would tell people proudly  - ‘I made that figure for Chris’.

Terry is such an exquisite figure with so much character and life in his face.

You can see videos of Chris in action on television and at a television industry tribute at his website below:

Sadly, whilst we still have living legends like Chris Kirby, we do not have any more figure makers like Eric left in Australia.

A hilarious excerpt (on the link below) of Chris and Terry appearing on an Australian  national tv show.


An Unusual Experience

By Charles Hook

Many years ago I was one of a groups of entertainers who went into Old Long Island City to entertain a group of underprivileged children. As the children arrived (mostly boys), there was no youthful buoyancy.  And the eyes of some of these boys drew my attention...their piercing eyes were not those of expectant childhood.  Rather, they were the eyes of the streetwise who trusted none.  The social worker told us that many were children of alcoholic parents, many of the children poorly fed.

The entertainment was staged in a long room without stage or platform.  The entertainment area was well lighted, but the audience area, with front row a considerable distance away, was clothed in darkness.  As I appeared with the figures and they started to talk, the faces of the boys who occupied the front rows were a study; with open mouths and an uncomprehendingly look of amazement on their faces.  It appeared few of them had ever seen a ventriloquist or understood what they were.

There was no laughter as they listened to the remarks of the figure.  Absorbed in the dialogue, I did not at first see that the boys in the front row had left their seats and were slowing advancing across the open spaces, crouched on their hands and knees.  But it was their eyes that glittered out of the dark that made me apprehensive.  Focused on the figure alone, there was almost a feline glare, as a cat stalking her prey. 

I was using a pugilistic-looking Irish boy, and as they advanced I had him seemingly spring out, and in their own tough vernacular, snarl or shout, "Get out of here!"   The tension was broken and amidst the laughter of their comrades the startled boys shuffled back to their seats.  After that the laughs came easy.

Whenever I read of hunters sitting around a campfire, looking into the darkness and seeing the glittering eyes of the denizen of the wild, I cannot help but recall the eyes and the attitudes of these wolf-ish boys as they approached out of the darkness!
*  *  *  *  *
Condensed from ventriloquist Hook's article by the same name which was published in the Vent-O-Gram, January, 1964.  Other features in that issue were by Walter Berlin, Fred Ketch, Ken Greenhouse, Gregory Berlin, Howard Paine and Peter Rich.  Plus a Vent Routine by I. V. Norman who also wrote a tribute to President John F. Kennedy whose picture made up the cover of this issue.  13 pages printed on one side, 8.5. x 11", (plus cover.)  This rare  vintage newsletter (good condition) is now listed for eBay auction:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290661828839


Mark Wade Writes

One thing I have made a New Years resolution is to write something for my kidshow act everyday.  It may just be a line or two, or a complete bit for an existing routine, but it is important to write, write, and write some more!

My good friend Karl Garray (of Garray and Tomio fame..a very unique ventriloquist act) gave me great advice and set a good example for me.  Karl would get up first thing in the morning and write something for his and Tomio's show.  I know also that many of the comedy writers also give themselves a strict routine of writing a set number of lines per day.  I guess the more you experiment and use your talents of writing, the better you become with it.  You learn quickly your style of performing and how to translate jokes, lines, and bits-of-business into that style.  It makes it fit better without as many re-writes.

I may be driving down the road and get a thought for a joke or line and I try to scribble it down before the thought leaves me.  I then use this as a springboard to write it in a more complete way when I get home to my office.

To be a great writer you have to write.  Remember the adage.."Yard by yard it's hard..inch by inch it's a cinch".  Try writing something TODAY and then keep on writing.  Soon you'll have another piece to your act that you can use to make it fresh and up to date.  Your audiences will love you for it!

You can reach me at markwade@kidshowvent.com


Let's Get Visual!

Thanks to Jeff Brown for alerting me to the new DVD by Steve Petra, Let's Get Visual.  I checked out the youtube trailer - looks intriguing.  And here's what Jeff had to say about the DVD:

"Let's Get Visual is EXCELLENT. I highly recommend it to everyone, even if they do not do child or family shows. It is very well produced, very informative and inspirational." Jeff Brown



Detweiler figure

Here's another of my works, an early one from my figuremaking career, owned by Bill Matthews.   I would guess I built this figure about 1969 or '70, and he appears to have been handled with care for all this time.  I sometimes used a woodburning tool to etch the date and/or a registry number on headposts, but not all had this feature.  I note (with a smile) he is still wearing one of the "Dummy Buttons" we created and sold 30 or so years ago!

What's even more exciting for me personally is to learn from Bill that he is now going through his Maher Course with his son, with the intent that this figure, "Larry Lack-O-Witz", will some day be handed down to his son!
*  *  *  *  *
Update from Bill:  On his headpost it has etched, "198, Maher '72." I purchased the button because I do primarily Gospel Ventriloquism and when I'm in a group or out in public someone always mentions it and gives me an open door to share the Gospel. I also have one of the custom padded cases by Clinton for him. I want to take good care of Larry for years to come so when I "retire" my son, Stephen, can take up the mantle (who, BTW, is really enjoying learning the art with HIS little pal, Buddy, which I upgraded myself from a Willie Talk doll following the plans in the Maher Course).
*  *  *  *  *
Comment from Wes Green:  Thanks for success stories which serve as a great encouragement. I so admire the commitment you evidence to the art of Ventriloquism. I think secretly that is an ultimate dream to have someone else say what you may only think. Knowing that statement could be construed in a possible negative vein, I would add that all communication is tempered with what should be verbalized in the first place. Thanks so much for giving us the tools to proclaim a message that brings people enjoyable thoughts and hopefully eternal life. Blessings.


1963 Vent-O-Gram

VENT-O-GRAM Ventriloquist Newsletter; Vol 1, 1963, Number 7.  THE GREAT LESTER memorial issue .
Articles include: The Great Lester (by Fred Ketch); When You Bomb (Peter Rich); The Dummy's Soul (dialogue by I.V. Norman); Vent Veracity (Walter Berlin); Help! (Peter Rich); Eastern Breezes (Charles Hook); Peter Brough Bio (Derek A. Travis); Drunk Routine (Howard Paine); Lester (Paul Barkdoll); misc ads, subscription info.  8.5 X 11", 15 pages (printed one side).  Good condition. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290661518538

I will reprint The Dummy's Soul dialogue from this issue this coming Sunday.

Peter Rich Rites

(From May/June 1966 Vent O Gram)

This column was prompted by a letter of inquiry from an excellent teen-age ventriloquist from Dallas, Texas, named Jay Johnson.

Jay wanted to know the length of the act required when working as a sole entertainer at a banquet, and the time required when the act works with other entertainers. 

The time varies but generally the act should range between ten and twenty minutes, or a tight fifteen minutes.  A song lasts three minutes.  An opening and closing song will take care of six minutes. A middle song would add another three minutes for a longer act.

For pacing, two dummies can be a big help.  The vent can do ten minutes with the first dummy and then do ten minutes with the second.

The program chairman for the banquet usually specifies the time required.  The booking agent will do the same for the clubs.  When the act arrives for rehearsal at the club, the first question asked by the act is "How much time do they want?"  The better clubs will require between twenty and thirty minutes.  The cheaper clubs want more time, in which case the aspiring ventriloquist should bone up on monologues, magic, and songs to pad the time.

The performer should know how long each segment of his act takes, because if he's ask to cut, he'll have no difficulty editing on his feet.

Good luck.  Don't get arrested --- or you'll do time.
*  *  *  *  *
Vent-O-Gram Ventriloquist Newsletter, Volume 4, May-June 1966, No. 2.  24 pages. 8.5" x 11".  With articles and reports by: W. S. Berger, Gregory Berlin, Fred Ketch (on how he built a paper mache dummy), Peter Rich, Walter Berlin, Bob Brethen, Charles Hook, Col. Bill Boley, Dan Gardner, and others.  Plus a tribute to ventriloquist A. C. Astor who died 4/7/66.  Some excellent trade material plus a great deal of historical reports from that time period.  Very good condition.  Click here for eBay auction:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290660695834


Thought to ponder

We all know jokes need to be created and used with the audience in mind.  Some jokes should be added for a specific audience; other jokes may be avoided.  But actions and animations should be planned and performed in the same way.  Consider the following comment I received from a ventriloquist who was bidding on a figure with "crossing-eyes" feature: 

"I have one rather important concern about the ebay figure I'm considering.  If I'm successful in the bidding, I would want you to disable the "cross-eye" feature altogether.  It's a very sensitive thing, both in our church family, and  also with one of my sons, who, at age 48 has had five surgeries to straighten his "bad" eye. He can have nothing further done, and the "squint" as they call it is still there, though not as severe as it used to be.  Two children in our Sunday school also have this problem, and they too are very sensitive and self-conscious about it.  There is no way I could be seen using a dummy that would do this, even with a slip of my arthritic fingers." 
 As with things he has the figure say, so must the ventriloquist be ever mindful of how he acts - always keeping the audience foremost in mind.

Apple of my eye...

From Kirk Rabe:  My wife was doing a study on the phrase "Apple of my eye" (Duet. 32:10, Ps.17:8, Proverbs 7:2). The Hebrew definition is, "a little doll, like a puppet or marionette." It is the tiny reflection of yourself when you look into someone else's pupil. When we look into God's eyes, we see ourselves! He watches over us.  God Bless.


True Namesake

From Roy White

Clinton:  I have sent the head of my professional figure, "Forrest (Big Bubba) Green Holloway*", and an early Danny O'Day doll head for repairs.  (*All the names for Forrest are local surnames of the watermen and farming community of Poquoson. Trinity UMC in Poquoson gave me Forrest as a going away present when I left Poquoson in 1995.)

The bear--Earl the bear--was made by Mary Ann Taylor, in 2005. I have a second one now, and the first is being rehabilitated by Mary Ann's daughter, Melissa. I lived in Roanoke for seven years as a pastor. The Taylors live in Salem--which is right next to Roanoke.


"New" Timmy!

When my shop schedule is filled it is so nice to be able to refer vents to our son, Kevin, knowing he can provided needed services with skill and integrity.  This is a copy of a letter I received just yesterday from one of Kevin's clients:

"Hi Kevin: Please allow me to thank you so VERY much for such the EXCEPTIONALLY well done technical work you've accomplished (so quickly; it's amazing! I'll bet you burned the midnight oil on this handsome "guy") on ol' Timmy (a very early Cowles figure). "Wow!" is all I can say!

Please allow me to continue to say that YOU (and your dad; I'm sure) really do know your inner mechanics; it's no wonder (I'm sure others share my opinion) that you're one of the most valued and respected craftsmen in the trade. Kudos to your fine technical skills... and artistry!

"I couldn't be more pleased with Timmy's positive upgrade; I simply had to let you know.

"BTW: I hope you notice how the complete "new" Timmy looks now; I might add that he's just been fitted with a brand new suit (with matching vintage bow tie!) by a late tailor's grandson....yours truly!

"Warmest personal regards to all,
Kenny Warren
"P.S. What a handsome head of hair this little fellow now has! I wish I could say the same for myself nowadays! LOL!"


Having a very bad day!

From William Salaam:  I'm a master vent who has benefited greatly from you. However my figure "Wilson", (originally called Clipper) has been accidentally crushed. I'm hurt.  Do you have any more Clippers?
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Ouch!  That's about as bad a breakup as I've seen, although I've repaired figures with similarly severe damage.  Clipper is a retired character from the Knee Pal line, so a new replacement is not an option.  However, the figure is not beyond repair if I had all, or even most of the pieces.  But it appears significant portions of the head are missing in the photo.  Send me every piece you have and let me see if I can work some puzzle magic.
*  *  *  *  *
From Tedtoons: New TV spin-off:

Tonight's episode,


(Brought to you by Super Glue.)


Question of value...

Question:  I've got a Ken Spencer figure with inscription that says, "Carved by Ken Spencer and Modification by Stewart Scott".  I need advice on how much he could be worth?   He's in lovely shape, and I love the fire out of him.  I'm just curious about value in case I put insurance on him.  Ken Spencer is dead so I needed to know if he might be pretty valuable. Thanks, Jeremiah Burch
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Your question is a difficult one indeed!  How does a person judge the value of an irreplaceable item?  I have not witnessed the sale of a Spencer figure recently, but I'll estimate their market value at $1,000-$1,500.  Much would depend upon the character and number of animations, of course.  But if lost, stolen, or destroyed, it could not be replaced with a duplicate at any price, so for actual insurance purposes I would suggest a value that would realistically allow you to purchase a comparable figure (by another maker) on today's market.
Note: If any reader is interested in possible purchase of this figure, contact me (mahertalk@aol.com) and I will put you in touch with Jeremiah.
*  *  *  *
From Bill Matthews:  What I have done is taken photos of my figure, Larry, from several different angles (front, back, sides and angle shots), with and without the animations. That way if anything happened to the little guy I have plenty of pictures to send to a figure maker and have a new one made as close to him as possible. I keep a couple sets of pictures in different locations for in case they get destroyed, like a house fire. I also have him insured enough to cover the cost of a custom made figure. Better safe than sorry.

Comments comment...

I am aware there is a problem with the comment section of this blog.  Several of you have sent me emails to tell me you cannot access the posted comments.  I'm having the same problem.  Blogspot is an arm of Google.  I'm hoping this problem is a result of the Google issues you've read about this week and they get things straightened out soon.  Until then, you can send your comments directly to me via my email: mahertalk@aol.com  Mr. D.

From Dave Robison

Recently my ventriloquial sidekick, Skyler published a blog article at skylergravelroad .

For the photo in the article, we shot a few photos of Skyler surrounded by Maher literature and some other vintage vent books.

I thought you'd enjoy looking at the photo.
Skyler is a Finis from an original drawing of mine. Born April 1, 1981.  I've actually been with Skyler longer than my wife of 28 years. Finis actually did a re-paint and repair of Skyler just a year or so before he quit working on figures.



Today's smile...

Winner of the "most creative request for flea circus script" is Andy Partington who wrote:

"Your post about the performing fleas’ script really perked my ears up. I’m itchin’ to see what this entails, and would love to see if I could scratch together the stuff for the prop.  Thanks so much for the blog. It’s a daily check-in point for me. (In fact, this and kidology are my favorite Pair a sites.) Keep up the good work!"

Seeking advice...

Question:  Years ago I turned my "Simon Sez" into "Blueberry the Clown."   His costume matches my "Muffin the Clown" costume.  After much "clowning around" he can no longer move his jaw.  You kindly repaired him for us years ago.  Probably not worth trying to repair the plastic parts again.  He needs a new head, but his matching costume fits a small body.  Is it possible to build a good head to fit a Simon Sez body?  If so, how much should I budget for it?  Or, would you recommend I start over with a larger figure and make new costumes?  Thanks for considering our dilemma,
Susan/Muffin the Clown and Blueberry
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D: Actually, my recommendation would be to find a permanent fix to your current doll.  The rubber band on the mouth could be replaced with a spring.  The size could remain the same so you would not need to replace the clothes. This would be the most cost effective approach .
*  *  *  *  *
Update following repair:  Blueberry just arrived.  His jaw works better than ever.  You are amazing and I am very grateful.  Thank you so much,
Let's have a little fun and put a real dummy in the Whitehouse!
Phil Nichols



DOUBLE TALK - The Ventriloquist Guide.  1938!  13 memiographed 8.5x11 pages, faded, fragile and  tattered.  But nearly whole except for a corner torn from the last page, and oh, so very fascinating to read!  VERY RARE!  For auction now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260933746398

Here are just a few random excerpts from this issue of DOUBLE TALK:

"The boy voice that is pitched in the female or head tone, can express all the lighter emotions such as expectation, gratitude, sorrow, appeasement, placation, etc.  But this also has drawback - you gain expression but lose carrying power.  Bergen uses a voice that is placed so far into the female section, that if he were to put a quaver in it, he would have the voice of an old woman.  You who have heard Bergen when he did not use the mike, know how far (or not so far) that voice can carry."  From The Fundamentals of the Ventriloquial Voice by Ellwood & Ripel.

"What makes the performance "click" with the audience?  First, the Material.  Assuming you have a good supply of material, it must be assembled for presentation.  We do not want a string of gags with no connection.  They must be "blended" into a sensible conversation.  Pick out the gags that are funny to you.  Classify them into as near perfect continuity as possible - soon that conversation effect will take form."  From Making the Performance Click Pt. 1, By Ralph DeShong

"Claude Burke and Jerry recently gave a show at a local church Bazaar.  Part way through the act Claude found a bottle on Jerry and to punish him said he was going to drink it and not give Jerry any.  Jerry said he wouldn't let him drink it.  Claude wanted to know how he was going to stop him.  Jerry said he would keep on talking.  Claude said that wouldn't stop him as he could drink between words.  So Jerry said he would hum a continuous note and stop him that way.  So Jerry hummed, but Claude drank the glass full of liquid just the same.  Needless to say, the stunt got a big hand.  Claude is quite proud of Jerry because for one reason he is an original Charlie Mack figure.  A brother under the paint of the famous McCarthy."  From Dummy Talk by Oscar.

V: What happened to your sister?  I always like your sister.
F:  Yeah.  Too darn well.  Wheee.
V: We'll skip that...she was quite a girl.
F: She never loved but two parties.
V: Is that so?  Who were they?
F: The Democrats and the Republicans!
From dialogue "Old Jokes Home" by William S. Hume

"Some persons can tell a gag with risque touch and it is "cute"...another  person can tell the same gag and it is just rotten smut and disgusts people.  If you haven't the personality to tell these jokes, don't try to...you just cheapen yourself and your act.  You will find it easier to get and use original material...(however) the radio has burned up so much legitimate patter it is disgustingly hard to get an original act that has gags people haven't heard before."  From Dialogue by Leon.

"Goldwyn Follies showing here for the third week, playing to a packed house.  Bergen does his stuff okay and made a hit although many passed remarks about his lip control.  The Mrs. took in the show and did I catch it when she got home.  'Why,' says she, 'do all you vents beef about Bergen?  Maybe his lips do move, so what?  He sure knows how to handle a figure and make it true to life which is more than I can say for a lot of Vents that I have seen, and besides, he is good looking.'   So there you are, what's a fellow going to do?"  From This 'N That by Richard Haldane.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D: All written so long ago (70 years), yet so much the them same - could have been yesterday!

"Performing Fleas"

Question:  Years ago I bought a book from you containing  a "performing fleas" script.  I do not have the book anymore and would like to get another script. Do you have any that I can order from you?  If not, do you know where I can get such a script? Thank you.  Roberta Butler
*  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  I do remember the script you refer to.  It was written by Cy Leonard and is in the NAAV Dialogue Book No. 9 (now out of print).  I still have my personal library copy of this book.  I'll make a copy of the four page script and mail it to you.  And I'll do the same for anyone reading this who would also like to receive the script (with details on building the flea circus prop.  Email your request with name and address to:  mahertalk@aol.com


Lucky Duck

From Michal Blacksher

I want to share with you a photo of me and my vent figure "Nelson" taken at our family Christmas Party.  Nelson was made from "Lucky Duck" plans that I purchased from Maher Studios in 1978.  I've had to make a few minor repairs over the years but he seems to be holding up fairly well.  He always seems to show up on the holidays and in our children's ministry at church.  Keep up the excellent work with your vent blog.  It is truly a blessing. May God continue to bless you and yours in 2012.


1970 Ventriloquist Directory

This rare 22 page 8.5 X 11 I.V.A. (International Ventriloquist Association) DIRECTORY contains members names and address, ads, a few photos and more, including a list of Dummies names who belong to W.O.O.D (World Organization Of Dummies).  There's a list of publications, dealers, script writers, four vent Courses.  Two articles: The History of the Vent-O-Gram newsletter and a biography of Paul Stadleman (condensed in the post below), first President of the IVA.  While most addresses are no longer current, this is a fascinating issue packed with interesting history!  There are markings in this Directory (circled addresses, primarily).  (I've listed the names of the IVA officers for 1970 with the eBay auction listing.) http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260933758723

Paul Stadleman

Paul Stadleman was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  He took up ventriloquism as an adult.  Most people became acquainted with Paul and his dummy, Windy Higgins, via his appearances on television.  He also was a highly sought after teacher of ventriloquism.  One of his students, Vonda Kay Van Dyke, became Miss America 1965, largely due to her talent as a ventriloquist. 

Paul authored two instructional books on ventriloquism as well as instruction on tape.  A master publicist, Windy Higgens ran for Governor of Kentucky in 1939 with Paul serving as his campaign manager.  Windy got 143 write-in votes from all over the state!

For most of his career, Paul made Chicago his home where his residence became a center of ventriloquism during his lifetime.
*  *  *  *  *  *
Condensed from Mr. Ventriloquist 1969, IVA Directory 1970,  Photo from same source.


Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy a "sex goddess"?  That is what the cover of this PEOPLE magazine suggests.  While I might describe her a bit differently, she is one of my favorite Muppet characteers.  Miss Piggy made the cover of this December 3, 1979 issue as a result of the huge success of The Muppet Movie released earlier that Fall.  She was so popular in the movie she received over 20,000 fan letters demanding she be named Best Actress of 1979!  The five page article by Brad Darrach reviews the movie as well as providing behind-the-scense history and insight into the Muppets, their creaters and their success.  With photos.  But the primary focus is Miss Piggy, her creation and her frustrated love for a little green frog.  Very fun!  This is the complete People Issue intact (106 pages).  Very good condition. Bid here:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260933020749

Lil' Wubble Duck

Question:  We bought this several years ago, but don't see anyone else showing it on the Internet.  It was made by Craig Lovik and sold by Maher.  I believe it also came in black. We can't remember his original name.  Any comments on this little guy?  Ottie
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From Mr. D:  Yes, this duck vent figure was created and built by Craig Lovik as part of the "Wubbles" series of characters sold by Maher Studios.  It was, in fact, the best selling character from that series of figures, simple called 'Lil Wubble Duck, and yes, it was made in black as well as yellow.  When Keith Lovik (Craig's son) took over the Lovik World production of characters, he did for a short time build a few more of this character.  But he discontinued their production 6 or 8 years ago as I recall.  (Maybe even longer ago - the years have a way of slipping by quickly.)


VHM report

I received an email from Vent Haven Museum Curator, Jennifer Dawson, with 2011 summary comments concerning activity at the Museum.  And I was especially encouraged to read of the steps taken to make the museum appealing and educational to youth.  Jen wrote,

"We had another great season last year.  We ended up having lots of new visitors as well as repeat visitors to the museum.  I always take it as a good sign when people return and bring their friends.  That tells you when you are doing something right!  I am also very pleased with how many students/children that are coming through the museum.  You all are making ventriloquism relevant again to this age group and it is showing in the amount of kids we see every year.  So, keep doing what you are doing!" 

To learn more about VHM, visit the museum web site: http://www.venthavenmuseum.com/

For Sale

I wrote earlier that the Smithsonian carried one of the finest articles on the subject of ventriloquists and ventriloquism.  Well, The ATLANTIC (August 1989) also contained an outstanding feature article on this same subject.  Written by Cullen Murphy, the theme was primarily a report on the International Convention.  But so much more.  Ten full pages of text and illustrations!  Unique in that all illustrations were by Bill Nelson...very amazing work - you see one above.  This is a complete 96 page magazine; excellent condition.  Bid now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260933012876

Reporter Murphy opens his story in the following manner:  "When I first met Ollie, he was beside himself, with his head lying alongside his torso in a wooden box.  Jeff Dunham gently lifted the pieces out and helped Ollie pull himself together.  When he was seated on Dunham's knee, Oillie opened his eyes, looked at me, furrowed his brow, recoiled, and turned his head to the familiar face on his right..."

Going public

Question:  I read with interest the post by James Tucker in taking his figure to Walmart.   I've another friend who has done that also but I've hesitated (I'm not sure why) to go there with one of my figures.   I'm beginning to think its good advertising. It might be interesting to get input from other vents about taking their figures out in public, why,  when, and what kind of reactions they get!  John Lutton
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From Mr D:  Some vents are more comfortable taking their puppets into local businesses than others.  I've done it on occasion, but generally when I'm meeting with another vent.  For example, I use a local McDonalds for pick up and drop off of vent figures with local vents.  It's fun chatting with customers who seem to take a curious interest.  But I pretty much think it's a matter of what you are comfortable with and enjoy.  It does require more ad libbing than actual routine.  One liners are easy to work in to small talk.  Yes, it can be good advertising.  Maybe I should ask on my blog how many do this and ask for any tips they might have?


NAAV and Newsy Vents

Question:  Say, I was just wondering, any chance of Newsy Vents being published again?   I was a member of the NAAV (membership number 420, I believe). Is that still going?  Bill
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From Mr. D: I fear the day of printed and mailed ventriloquist newsletters are over.  Costs of paper, printing and postage have risen drastically, and the Internet with it's lower costs and speed have trained people into looking for news sources that are fast and free.  So, we had to adjust.  In 2004 we disbanded the NAAV.  I continued to publish the printed paper until 2005, then switched to my blog online where I have continued to publish daily: http://ventdj.blogspot.com/   Thank you for your support for so many years!


His jaw REALLY dropped!

Question:  I purchased a figure from you many years ago.  It has been in storage and I have decided to start using him at church again.  He needs repair.  His mouth has come unglued.  Is this something I can fix? The mouth cover does not seem to fit properly.  I'm not sure if the old glue is an obstacle or not.  I don't want to damage the figure.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:   I would use "super glue" to glue the mouth piece back in place.  But if it does not fit properly, I'm wondering if the hot glue that held it may have changed shape during storage due to heat or something?  If that's the case, the inside structure may have to be reshaped a bit.  

Finished repair 


Kid-Show Book Bundle

This auction is for two books:  Mark Wade's VENTRILO-SECRETS (1983) is a three part work covering the basics for organizing and performing Kid-Shows, a subject Mark knows as well or better than most any performer since kid shows are the primary focus of his career.  Only a relative few copies of VENTRILO-SECRETS were printed.  This copy is in very good condition.

The second book in this auction is KID-SHOW VENTRILOQUISM, (1996/2002 - this is the 2002 edition).  Mark teaches everything from ventriloquism technique to complete comedy routines for kidshows.  He also shares insights on how to be successful in entertaing with ventriloquism, puppetry, and comedy.  132 pages, illustrated.  New and unread copy.

Auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290655825138
Last week Adelia and I were blessed to spend a delightful afternoon with
Mark (right) and Jody (behind camera) Wade.  The ice cream was just
a sweet bonus!

Shoe Sizes for figure

I found this terrific chart to measure for shoe sizes for a figure. It has come in handy for me several times and is spot on.   Jeff Brown


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Reader comment:  Thanks so much for this link. Back in 1979 when we adopted our first Lovik/Maher figure, she had no shoes. We were newlyweds and had no idea what size to get. We purchased and returned three pairs and the clerk finally said, "why don't you bring the child in?"   So we did. Imagine her surprise when we opened a large truck like suitcase and pulled out this vent figure. It necessitated an impromptu performance in the store for all of the shoppers. My wife did glean an invitation to bring her to the local Kiwanis club for a program as the result of this shopping trip for shoes. I expect today we are bettered equipped to handle these issues, thanks to the web and good blog friends like you, Clinton.


Voicing the Gospel by Pastor Paul Everett

"VOICING THE GOSPEL" BY VENTRILOQUIST PAUL EVERETT & "WALLY" (1970/1974) I've listed this book on eBay as used, but it is in MINT condition as if never used!  First published in 1970 and then revised and enlarged in 1974.  This is the 1974 edition.  Includes an introduction to ventriloquism, a brief "Course" on how to be a ventriloquist, how to give character and movement to the figure.  There's a concise explanation of the distant voice as well as the "drinking bit" and tips on producing sound imitations.  How to write dialogue plus several dialogues (by two by Detweiler and one each by Ken Tibbs and Cliff Taylor).  Plus suggestions for presentations.  Even plans for a simple but clever puppet  are included which I will share here as well (see post below)!  Long a best selling manual; now out of print.  Here's your chance!

"Visual education has long proven to be a valuable and effective method with which to teach.  Christian workers are discovering many different types of effective methods of teaching the Gospel message through the "eye-gate" as well as the "ear-gate".  Ventriloquism must be rated near the top of the list of effective visual aids used by and for persons of all ages.

"So, regardless of your relationship to the art of ventriloquism, be it only curious, or sincerely interested, or advanced in skill, it is to YOU that we recommend this book"   (This excerpt taken from the book's Forward, written by none other than some fellow named Detweiler.)

Place your bid now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290655187598

Paper Cut-Out Vent Figure


Pocket Puppet?

Hank, the Pet Handkerchief.  "Hank" was produced as a utility item for magicians that can add comedy to a wide range of vanishes, productions, transpositions, and changes of small objects.  But with the big colorful mouth silk screened in the center of a large quality handkerchief, I can see where the creative ventriloquist or puppeteer could put this pocket item to good use as well.

This includes the handkerchief plus booklet with two comedy magician's routines (one for cards and one for coins), plus ideas for adding comedy to many favorite tricks.  This is new and unused and comes from the collection of George Boosey.  For sale now (one only): http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290655184512

For sale:

One only: Framed and signed page clipping from a new copy of Smithsonian Magazine, Dec. 1993.  This is the actual page clipping (not a copy reproduction). 

The caption reads, "Get 'em warmed up enough-they won't be watching your lips," advises mail-order king Clinton Detweiler." 

(Did I really say that?  I'm almost embarrassed to admit I've ever offered such "advice", but if reported in Smithsonian, it must be true - no magazine I've ever had dealings with worked as hard with their research to insure accuracy of reporting.  In fact, when Smithsonian subscribers read reporter John Ross' comments about the Maher 30 Lesson Home Study Course, some simply sent in their checks with a note asking for a Course.  No questions asked!  The envelopes arrived unannounced in our mailbox with payments enclosed.  And not just one or two, but several dozen!  Nothing like that happened on such a scale with any other piece of publicity ever awarded Maher Studios during the 40 years we have been privileged to offer the Course.)

   I cut up one copy only of this magazine.  Thus, this will be the only such item I'll ever offer for sale. http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=7032258502517519125


ID Mr. D.

Thank you to all who took a guess at which young choir member in this photo from 1950 was Mr. D.  71 one entries were received.  You are a very sharp group!  65% of all entries were correct. 

Yes, I am the one with lots of dark curly hair (those were the days) in the third row, second from the right standing next to the tall boy with blond hair on the end, my cousin and best childhood friend (who, just five year's later would be best man at my wedding!).
Thank you again for participating in my fun "look back" guessing game this Christmas season.  Everyone, including those with incorrect guesses, were sent a ventriloquist collector coin my appreciation and my wish  for a wonderful New Year! 
Clinton and Jerry
 By the way, of the incorrect guesses, fully one-third had the right family, picking out my brother, Jerry, standing in the middle of the front row of the choir photo.  

Today is Jerry's 70th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Bro.!  I've put together a fun photo gallery in his honor with comments covering some of the adventures experienced during our childhood.  You're welcome to take a peek: http://www.jerrydetweiler.blogspot.com/


Looking forward to regaining his voice

From Steve Arne:  I have inherited a Vent figure that my mother used. She always called him “Danny”, but I am not sure if he is a Danny O’Day figure. The hair was never painted under the wig- but in peeking under the wig the hair is parted on the left and there is no sign of the Danny O’Day clump of hair on the left side.  On the back of his neck there is a Juro Novelty Co Inc copyright 1977 stamp. On the wooden post there is stamped “05-088”.  His right arm can be raised by a string in the body cavity. The cavity is foam lined, with plywood top and bottoms and cardboard center.  This is approx a 31 in. figure.  Thanks for any info you can provide. “Danny” lost his voice a couple of years ago, and I am going to try to learn ventriloquism so that “Danny” can re-gain his voice.
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From Mr. D:  Your "Danny" is a figure upgraded in our Maher Studios some 30 or so years ago.   If I remember correctly our numbering system, he would have been the fifth figure completed during the month of August, 1978.  He started life as a Charlie McCarthy doll. The work would have been done by my son and myself.  I'm sorry he lost his voice, but I'm excited you have made it your goal to give him voice and life again.  I'm sure your mother would be pleased as well. 

For Sale (rare)

This is a RARE issue of the most sought after of all Newsy Vents newsletters - the 48 page tribute to Edgar Bergen issue.  Jan/Feb 1979, Volume 35, Issue No 1.    

Contents include: Edgar Bergen Biography, Tributes from fellow vents, Eulogies, vintage article reprints, historical facts, radio reviews, many photos including the famous "last show" photo by Mary Ellen Mark/Lee Gross.  And more.  Of all the issues of Newsy Vents we published over a period of 35 years, I do believe this is still my favorite.  A special issue in honor of a very special person!  The full cover is a reprint of an original pointillism painting by artist and ventriloquist, Dick Weston.  This issue (actually a book) is in mint condition and for sale now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290654133611


"Sheerluck Jones", Bible Detective

From Rev. Russell Baker

Happy New Year!  The holiday season was a busy one for me both as a pastor and as a ventriloquist.  Our Christmas program featured the children of our church acting out the Nativity story in costume. Narriation was provided by me and Charlie McCarthy.

The narriation was done as a "detective investigation" as the Case of the Miraculous Birth was "investigated." As "Bible Detective, Sheerluck Jones", I wore a Sherlock Holmes outfit, with Charlie as a wisecracking assistant, "Dr. Dawson". Throughout the narriation, we investigated the Scriptures of the Nativity story as the children acted them out I used the term "Bible detective" in the program, explaining that a detective observes clues and makes deductions based on those clues. A Bible detective, then, Observers the truth of God's Word and acts on those truths.


For Sale

I have mentioned in the past that the cover of the Dec. 1993 issue of Smithsonian Magazine is worth of framing if you are a fan of ventriloquism.  Well, I have one for sale, and this is an actual magazine cover - not a copy of the cover!  11 x 14" size piece.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260928195458

Simon Sez, "help!"

Question:  My 1973 Simon Sez needs a new rubber band to his mouth.  What would you recommend?  John
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From Mr. D: I've always been glad the headposts on these dolls were only snapped (not glued) onto the heads themselves.  Because, to replace the rubber band to the mouth, the head post must be removed.  I use a Xacto knife (or box cutter) to carefully split the headpost along the front and back seam, just far enough to spread it apart (with a screwdriver) to remove the headpost from the head.  The rubber band is stretched from the metal ring on the top of the mouth unit down to one of the horizontal plastic cross pieces you will find in the ball portion of the headpost.  After you have made repairs and have all parts reassembled, just a drop or two of "super glue" (carefully applied) will hold all securely again.


For Sale

Most of you are a ware of the 1993 issue of Smithsonian magazine with the beautiful full color cover photo of Charlie McCarthy.  (The magazine I have for sale here still has the half page cover protector in place.)  The pages inside include John Ross' carefully researched article about ventriloquists and ventriloquism.  With many full color photos.  10 full pages in all!  Even if you're not a collector of ventriloquist memorabilia you'll be proud to own and read this piece.  If nothing else, you need it to see my picture on page 65 (just kidding!).  I have listed this mint copy of the magazine on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260927536375 

Senor Wences Fan

From Bill Smith:

 Happy New Year to you and yours, Clinton. I thought, since you posted that nice piece regarding Queen Elizabeth and King George (yesterday), and especially since his address was done in 1939, that you might enjoy seeing this piece of vent history I cherish. It is a silver spoon, given to Senor Wences, during the king and queen's 1939 visit to the white house. This spoon was given to me as a gift by Senor Wences' grand daughter. A wonderful lady, who I'm so very honored to call a friend. I'm also including a photo of Senor Wences and myself, taken at the testimonial luncheon held in his honor, that Al Getler organized.  I will be eternally grateful to you for cluing me into that event, otherwise I would never have known about it. All the very best to all this new year.