From Broadway Stage to your living room!

"Bob" with  Jay Johnson
photo by Carol Rosegg
I did not know about the planned filming of Jay Johnson's Tony award winning "Two and Only" Show when I was planning the production of set #2 (2012-B) of the Hall of Fame coins.  But the timing was perfect.

 The Two and Only! will play two performances (2 PM and 8 PM) on Sept. 15 at Thalian Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina. The performances at Thalian Hall are being staged for filming by director Bryan W. Simon and producer Marjorie A. Engesser for Montivagus Productions.  Home video distribution and/or future broadcast information will be announced at a later date.   Read the full details: Playbill.com - http://ow.ly/bVimh

Surely this event will make the set of 2012-B even more desirable as collector's and investment items.  Only 200 sets were produced.  Order yours now: http://www.hofcoins.blogspot.com


Surprise roots!

When Emmitt Grant contacted me about the possibility of making over his Knee Pal, he included a picture.  I immediately recognized the Knee Pal character known as Lum Barr Jack.  The charcter was created by Lovik, and I would have surmised was built by either Craig or Keith.  But upon opening the head I discovered it was signed by Barry VanWert.  (9/95)  Barry, an excellent young craftsman, built figures for Lovik World for only a short period of a couple years, so this particular character is even more of a rarity than I realized.  You see him here as he arrived at my shop.  I'm going to try a couple different looks so Emmitt can decide which he prefers.  I'll share the final result with you in just a few days.


Hall of Fame Coin comment

"The coins are amazing and I think these will be fantastic, especially for collectors. Thank you so much for including me."   Jim Barber
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From Mr. D:  It is our pleasure, Jim.  We have long admired your professional skills and cherish your friendship! 

Note to blog readers: Please go to the Hamner/Barber web site via the lick below to read and enjoy the amazing article Jim wrote about the Hall of Fame coins, including a short bio on each of the eight honorees thus far.  Thank you, Jim!



Recipient Reaction

Order your coins now:

"I received the coins and I am just so honored to be a part of your series. It was just amazing to be included with these legendary vents.  I will speak to my team and see if we can purchase some of them to resell on my web site. I think my fans would really like to have them!"
 Terry Fator


Vote for Pete on AGT!

America's Got Talent has selected the video of Pete Michaels and The Little Tenor as one of the TOP 20 VIDEOS! If they get enough votes, they will get to appear on the show in Vegas!

Please VOTE FOR PETE who thanks you for the votes!
“The Little Tenor” video is gaining momentum!
Remember, you can vote once a day until July 7th! www.youtube.com/agt


Vent Haven Commercial

From Jennifer Dawson
Vent Haven Curator

At last year’s ConVENTion I mentioned to you all that we had the opportunity to shoot a television commercial for a wireless telephone company that is located on the West coast. Well, it’s taken about a year to be completed, but it just aired this past week. I thought you might enjoy seeing the finished product!
A special thanks goes out to Tom Ladshaw for participating in the shoot and to local vent Dylan Burdette. They were so helpful during the 4- 5 hours of shooting. It’s a shame that we only get to see 30 seconds!
Here it is…


They're here!

The new 2012-B set of Hall of Fame Coins arrived yesterday. 
I will be spending this weekend preparing all prepaid orders
to ship Monday.  And, I welcome additional orders always!
Your support is needed and greatly appreciated!


For Sale

IT WAS ONLY PUPPET LOVE; VENTRILOQUIST RICHARD THORPE reveals for readers all the secrets of ventriloquism! Voice Contrast, Lip Control, The Ventriloquial Character, Actions and reactions, cue Tips, Routines and How to Write Them, Distant Ventriloquism, Your Early Performances, Going Professional. 57 pages. 8.5" x 11" 1979 Very good condition. Rare!  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290732395671


For Sale (rare!)

VENTRILO-WISDOM by VENTRILOQUIST DANNY TOWNSEND. This hard-to-find limited edition book was Published in 1974. 93 pages 8.5x11". Like new condition.

Section One includes: Correct breathing, Voice resonance, Ventriloquist Voice, Labial Sound substitutions, Choosing and manipulating the Ventriloquist Figure, How to Tell Jokes/Timing, Practice Routine, Distant Voice Illusion, Sample contract (and more).

Section Two includes: Opening Routine, Getting Started, General Gags, Writing Your Own Material, Magic with Vent, Tricks of the Trade, Talking Ping-pong Paddle, TV Commercial Ideas, Publicity and Advertising, W.S.Berger and Vent Haven, Complete idea for Children’s TV Show, Christmas Routine, Audience Participation (and more).

Peter's Birthday dinner party

From Charles Prouty:
I just wanted to share with you and your readers about the fantastic day we had with Peter Rich. As you know Peter turned 91 this past Sunday, and to celebrate a few of us vents gathered in San Antonio for a small but festive celebration. Bob and I picked up Peter at his apartment and took him to Jim's for dinner. We were joined by David Pitts and Ron Arnold. We enjoyed a good dinner and even better conversation. Peter again held us captive with stories about his career and his experiences in show business. Peter's humor and quick whit never stops! He was flirting with our waitress and when she told him she was married, he replied "some people have two cars". Even the waitress could not stop laughing.
After dinner we pulled out the puppets (what else are a bunch of vents going to do) and had a nice little "Puppet Jam" there in the restaurant. All the customers gathered and took pictures with us. We managed to bring smiles to everyone's face.
I have only known Peter for about 6 years, but I am honored to call him a good friend.
Front row: David Pitts (left) and Peter Rich (center)
Back row L-R: Bob Abdou, Charles Prouty, Ron Arnold


For Sale

TIPS FROM A PRO by VENTRILOQUIST JOE GANDELMAN; blunt answers to frequently asked questions about ventriloquists, ventriloquism, and "going full-time". For ventriloquists and ventriloquists-to-be. No question is dodged. Designed and written to save you headaches and increase your income! 41 pages. 1994. 8.5" x 11". Very good condition.  One copy only.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261051025184

Classroom report

From Rodney McVey:

Bufford & I are going to my grand daughters Kindergarten class Tuesday and you can rest assured that his case, will be adorned with several of your novel sticker labels! Just like the looks I see, when I go around with my classic '67 Pontiac Tempest, I appreciate the looks I get not only from the children, but the adults as well when they see Buford. Ventriloquist "dummies" were something you'd occasionally see on TV or special events, (not to be confused with Newsy-Vents), many decades ago. Now, they are mostly cast as containing long, dead, evil spirits so, some of the kids are pretty reluctant to get to close right away...but the adults are on the edge of their seats, with anticipation, waiting for me to open my case.   Thanks for being a part of these memorable moments, from your contributions both past & present, in the field of ventriloquism!
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From Mr. D:  The fact that some kids are reluctant to see a vent figure closeup is not necessarily a bad thing from the perspective of a performer. It makes performing easier...but once they see the figure in action and have time to connect with him and his personality you may still have to ask them to "back away". :-) When all is said and done, I suspect the classmates of your granddaughter are going to be envious, wishing their grandpa was a ventriloquist!
 *  *  *  *  *  *I
Follow-up from Rodney:   One Kindergarten student had seen "someone like Buford" before, on the Internet and none of the pre-K students said they had ever seen "someone like Buford," but a few were very cautious.  Plus, a couple of the teachers said they had never seen a ventriloquist figure in person before. They all commented on his face & how realistic it was...   Over all, they all had a great experience that hopefully will stay with them for a long time!

 The school we visited was Elmwood Elementary in Syracuse, NY. Because of budget cut backs, this is the last year that Elmwood will be operating. That's why "we" decided to do a walk through together and visit as many students and teachers as was allowed.  My Granddaughter, Jada, attended Kindergarten there and that was the initial reason for getting Buford "Out Of The House", for some fresh air!


Update: Second Set Hall of Fame Coins 2012-B

Flash:  This weekend I will be shipping all prepaid orders for the second set of Hall Of Fame Coins
(2012-B, featuring T. Fator, J. Johnson, J. Barber, and M. Wade).  Exciting! 
 If you have prepaid for your set(s), you can look for them to arrive next week.  If you have reserved sets or have put off ordering, NOW is the time to do so to get in on this first wave of orders.   


Grandson Jordan, just dropped me a note to tell me he listed one of his Dad's (Kevin Detweiler, seen in picture) new novelty puppets on eBay.  Looks to be a fun one for kid shows.  People have been searching for Bigfoot for years - you can be the person who found him!

You might have seen one of these in your local stores over the past year or so. They are normally a remote controlled creature that tumbles, talks, blinks, and makes noises.  But Kevin emptied this of all mechanics and then rebuilt his inside so you can operate him just like a true ventriloquist figure.

He has a big moving mouth, side to side self-centering eyes and lowering eye brows. All are controlled on a headstick. He stands 16" tall. He can also sit and wave. What a great way to have Big fun..Big surprise..with Big foot!  http://www.ebay.com/itm/BIGFOOT-Ventriloquist-Doll-Figure-NEW-/130716310207


Still delighting audiences after decades!

From Michael  Weisberg
I recently saw your post from 12/5/11 about the Knee pal figure that you refurbished. I think you called her "Frankie". I am sure this is the same figure that I purchased on ebay in February and which was called Trixie. She is a great figure with a lot of charm. I also thought that you might like to see some images of my Randy storyteller figure and Guando, my Crazy Bird.
 I purchased the Crazy Bird directly from Maher Studios when they were first released. He is black and with crossing eyes, flapping wings and squirter.  I dressed him in the checkered jacket and pants from a Juro Mortimer Snerd figure and he has been entertaining at birthdays for my kids, friends and family throughout the past 20 years. He is still one of my favorite figures.  He is starting to show his age but the mechanics still work as good as when I first received him, I think over 30 years ago. I bought Randy more recently online.
I still have squarehead (ventriloett figure) too, but some of his features (such as his ears, eyebrows) need to be replaced.  My older daughter (now 20 years old) still talks about her childhood memories of talking to "Squarehead".
By the way, I grew up in the 70's and 80's reading Newsy Vents.
Best Wishes,
Michael  Weisberg
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From Mr. D:  The design, materials, and mechanics of the "Crazy Birds" were all original with me, so you know I'm pleased to hear yours is still working well and entertaining your friends and family!  You have the version we called "Penguin".  I like the distinctive character you gave him by adding the Mortimer Snerd outfit.  Very creative!  And the face on Randy looks like brand new.  He has obviously been well cared for!


One set of Five!

I have one lot of five different 1st edition copies of Dale Brown's most popular books for sale on eBay.  Win the one auction and receive the complete set of five.



Happy Father's Day (and Birthday)

While today is "Father's Day" here in the U.S. (have a great day, guys!), Peter Rich has a double reason to celebrate as it is his 91st birthday!  Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Peter!

Ancient Eddie

From Kirk Rabe:  "Ancient Eddie" and I were part of a Babylonian village for VBS. Eddie thought there were many gods (and mini gods). The kids help convince him otherwise. Thank you for the rod arm attachment. He shakes many hands and brings so much joy and laughter. Whose says God can't use dummies...:)
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From Mr. D:  Thank you, Kirk, for the picture! Excellent costuming. I'll bet the kids (and adults) loved your presentations! And will not soon forget them.


Final Performance of Mickey Baltz tonight!

By special request, ventriloquist dummy Mickey Baltz will be making his final, farewell appearance in Branson this Saturday night during the 8pm performance of the Hamner Barber Variety Show.

One year ago, the cute, wooden-headed character underwent a major transformation when Jim Barber was asked to perform a restoration of this 78 year old ventriloquist figure on behalf of the puppets real-life family.
This Saturday night (June 16, 2012), 20 members of the Baltz family including Mickey’s “Momma,” 94 year-old Clora Baltz, will be attending the Hamner Barber Variety Show to experience this final performance of their little, wooden “son” Mickey. It promises to be a special moment for all in attendance!

Read the full story: here

A friend in need is a friend indeed

From Ron Arnold
I have a new ventriloquist figure, Arnie,  made by Dan Payes. I would like to give a REALLY BIG THANKS for the generosity of Eden Hutchinson and to Bob Abdou for his friendship.

I have found that vents are some of the most welcoming of all performers, especially newcomers. Eden Evan Hutchinson was the previous owner and contacted Bob Abdou to share how he wanted to help out someone that would use this figure. Bob thought of me, since we met and became friends at the Texas Vent and Puppet Gathering in Austin last year and we've stayed in contact since then.  He knew I didn't have a professional hard figure yet. I would like to give both of them BIG THANKS for Arnie - Bob for getting us together and Eden for helping out someone in need.
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From Mr. D: Thanks for sharing! Your story again proves what a great ventriloquist community we are all a part of - like, yourself, I am very grateful and blessed!


Mark Wade Writes


I like to go and see other vents work. I try to take in all the details of their act, stage presence, puppet manipulation, voices, and other things. But one area I think we overlook sometimes is the maintenance of our show equipment...how it looks to the general public.
I've seen sound systems so beat up and dirty that I am embarrassed for the vent. Suitcases nicked, scratched and microphones caps who need a thorough cleaning. Also case covers (if they have them..) need to also be taken care of.
I suggest when you have some down time to lay out all your equipment, even down to the puppet's clothes themselves, and evaluate the entire show. You'd be surprised how much some Armor All can bring back the shine to cases, and a little touch up paint can make a huge difference in overall appearance. Don't forget cleaning the puppet's clothes or changing outfits. This is important too. I also highly recommend getting case covers made for almost all of you equipment. It keeps everything a lot cleaner if you have to cart things in and out from you car during bad weather.
Remember...people judge your act from the time you walk in the door to the time you leave. Give yourself an advantage with clean and properly maintained equipment. You'll feel good..and you act will shine in more ways than one! 


Ventriloquist Stickers - Free!

I was recently asked if I still had some of the Ventriloquist Stickers.  Yes, I have six.  They come as a set on a single sheet.  Cut apart as desired, and then "peel and stick".  At one time we sold these at Maher Studios.  I also sent a sheet or two with most of the custom carrying cases sold through Maher Studios.  But in recent years those remaining have been in a box in my storeroom.  They should be going to those who could use them.  So, here's the deal - if you would like a sheet of these ventriloquist stickers, just email me your mailing address and I'll mail you a set - FREE.  My thanks to you for visiting this blog.  mahertalk@aol.com

Charlie at the museum

From John Cassity:  I got to see the original Charlie McCarthy at the Smithsonian not to long ago! It was a neat experience!   I went there for a class trip.   I didn't see any other puppets.   I was hoping to see Kermit the frog, but they said he was off display at the time.   But I was happy to see Charlie! He almost looks kinda sad sitting in there all alone though...  But still, it was very fun!
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From Mr. D: Thank you for the photo of Charlie at the Smithsonian! I'd love to visit that Museum but I doubt I'll ever have the opportunity, so you sharing your photo is much appreciated!


Movie Trivia

Question:  My mom asked a question that has me stumped. Late the other night she was watching an old movie with Barbara Stanwyck which had a ventriloquist character in it, with a dummy named “Al”.   She didn’t get the title of the movie, but said it could have been late 40’s or early 50’s. Any clue as to who the vent and dummy are?    Thanks!   Melissa
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From Mr. D:  Truthfully, I had no idea.  But thanks to several readers more knowlegable than me, I can tell you the movie is "The Miracle Woman".  See all comments below for details, movie trailer links, etc.  THANK YOU, folks!  You're the best!


Vent Videos For Sale

VHS VIDEO HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU starring SHARI LEWIS, Lamb Chop and other puppets. (One of Shari’s best, in my opinion.).  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290725551500

VHS VIDEO LAUGHS FOR SALE includes VENTRILOQUIST PAUL WINCHELL with JERRY MAHONEY. 1963 ABC TV. With Hall March (host).   Amateur and professional gag writers try out the wares on old-time jokesters. 29 minutes. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261041519300

VHS VIDEO MAGIC STAR TRAVELER Vol. 1 With VENTRILOQUIST JERRY LAYNE and PUPPETS. 1986 Meet Solar the space captain and his friends Luster, Moonshine and Imagination as they explore that funny bird, the Stork, and that delightful bird, the Puffin. For ages 7-11. Jerry tells me he made 86 shows for TV but he has only found Vols. 1, 2, and 3. I have two of those volumes here. Approx. 60 minutes:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261041521326 

VHS VIDEO MAGIC STAR TRAVELER Vol. 3 with VENTRILOQUIST JERRY LAYNE and PUPPETS. 1986.   Solar space captain and his friends Luster, Moonshine and Imagination go back in time. Explore with them the lands, seas, and skies of the earth. Learn the balance of nature and man’s responsibility to preserve the wondrous variety found on earth. For ages 7-11. Approx. 60 minutes.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290725560611


Books For Sale

Puppets: Ministry Magic; How your youth group can reach out with puppets.  By Dale and Liz VonSeggen. 128 pages 1990.  This is a new and unread copy (I have one copy only).  $10 postpaid.  Contact Mr. D to purchase: mahertalk@aol.com
49 Nifty Ideas for Using Puppets With Songs in Christian Education, Including Scripts.  By Grace Harp.24 pages, 1977.  New and unread books (I have 5 copies) $6.00 each PP.  Contact Mr. D to purchase.

How To Light A Puppet Stage (Puppet Pals) One new and unread copy only: $5.00 PP.  Contact Mr. D to purchase.

SCHOOL JOKE GAG FILE by Paul Everett, 100 Gags in Dialogue Style, ready to cut and file.  1985.  New and unread copy (1 only) SOLD. 

First come, first serve on all the above.


For Sale (eBay):

1)  Packet of Convention Lecture Notes and bonus items:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261040164953

2)  Misc. 1990s LOT OF CATALOGS, BROCHURES, FLYERS, ETC., FROM VENTRILOQUIST FIGURE MAKERS http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290724426848

3)  MISC. LOT OF VENTRILOQUIST NEWSPAPER, MAGAZINE CLIPPINGS/ARTICLES.  Partial List of Vents featured in this collection of material: Frank Marshall, Phil DeRey, Jay Johnson, Paul Winchell, Jay Marshall, Senor Wences, Peter Rolston, Peter Rich, Arty Freda, Jim Barber, Bob Abdou, Judy Buch, Clinton Detweiler, Tim Selberg.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261040359563


Coin comment and question

Question:  Hi Clinton, I just received my vent coins series 2012-A. They are awesome.  I can't
wait until the next series. I was wondering if you had any 2 cent coins around?
I seem to have lost mine. I have the 5 dollar one. Thank You.  Lou T
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From Mr. D:  I agree, series 2012-A is awesome and the second series 2012-B will be equally so.   I hope to have them in hand in approximately two weeks.  You can see the artist proofs here: http://www.hofcoins.blogspot.com    (I am accepting advance and prepaid orders now.)
I do have a handful of the 2 cent coins.  They are: Three for $5.00

I also have the 2011 Jimmy Nelson $5 coins:  $7.50 each or two for $10.00,

and, I have the 2011 $7 ("7/11") coin: $10 each or two for $15.

The 2010 $5 coin which you have is out of supply  - don't lose the one you have!


Looking for a Ventrilo-ett

From Mariann. Martin

June 21, an ISHS member and I will be traveling to Poland for our conference. I will be doing a workshop June 28 relating to the July 8-20 summer session I am enrolled in at Haifa University.  Thanks to extensive networking within both universities, I will be visiting 4 hospitals and perhaps other educational facilities and/or a senior facility. I will be taking a vast array of props/balloons to 'play with' while traveling and to use at both universities with participants from dozens of countries.

My goal: introduce, ‘pump’, encourage USA vents, puppet makers, ‘clowning’ ‘stuff’, web sites, related conventions and so forth.  But my main goal here is to acquire a (preferred, non-seasonal) ventrilo-ett. (‘perfect’ for carry-on bag). Thus, I am seeking the ‘vent’ community’s support to help me with this endeavor.  THANKS for your interest and support.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:   If you can help Mariann with her Ventrilo-ett search, drop me an email and I will forward it to Mariann.


 From Bob Albano:

 There are quite a few Chase and Sanborn ads
that have Charlie on it.
eBay offers these from time to time.
They might be used for a background for displaying the spoons.


Charlie Spoon Ad

From Tom Ladshaw

Attached is a photo of an ad for the Charlie McCarthy spoon. Sorry for the angle and glare, but it's mounted and framed and I had to photograph it at an angle so there was as little glare from overhead lighting as possible. 

 This particular ad is tabloid size. It's from The New York Times Magazine of April 3, 1938. I also have the same ad in full broadsheet size.... somewhere.   Also somewhere I have a full page ad for the entire Charlie flatware set.

*   *   *   *   *

Note: The photo below was sent by Dave Miller who framed his copy of the ad with two of the actual spoons.

Reviving the past

Clinton: I am so happy to have won the Jerry auction which I became aware that you had done the restoration. I received him the other day, and he is beautiful - magnificent!   I'm 70 now, but when I was a child and a huge fan of Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney (which I still am), I got a 24" Jerry Mahoney doll for Christmas. Well, that one's long gone, but I now have another.  Bill


CD spoon question

Question:  "Clinton, I was wondering if in your travels you have ever seen a print ad for the Charlie McCarthy spoon or utensil set? I know they were a premium for Chase and Sanborn but the must of advertised it somehow or was it just a radio offer? I have the complete set and wanted to put the add behind them as a display. Thank you for all you do for our art, but most of all thank you for your friendship over these many years."  Chuck
*   *   *   *
From Mr. D:  I do not remember a print ad for the spoons, but maybe some reader does?  (The best thing about all the years we've been in this business is the friends we have made!)


Reader Comment

From Rev Russell Baker

A few weeks ago, our church had a prayer rally for America. We had a luncheon before doing the prayer rally. During the luncheon, my wife, oldest son, and I performed some Gospel music and then I did a ventriloquist dialogue with Festus.   We had a great time.
This summer we will be taking some Gospel music and a ventriloquist skit to one of the low-income complexes in town. Ventriloquism certainly gives a great opportunity in spreading the Gospel!
Thank you for all the help and encouragement that you give to everyone.



HOF Coin Comment

"Hi, Clinton.  I was out of the country and just returned home.   I found a package from you that I forgot all about.   I opened it up and there was a set of vent coins framed - all I can say is, wow, what a nice welcome home surprise!   I forgot that I had ordered a set and I am glad I did.  They are top notch with great detail.  To others: Don’'t let this pass you by or you will be sorry that you did not order.  Clinton, you can put me down for the next set when they come in.   Once again, great job.  Thanks so much."   Bob Steininger

Maher Graduate

Tyne Gravolin (Australia) completed his required study of the Maher Course last month by performing at the Yamba Festival.  Tyne told us he always wanted to be a ventriloquist, but only took up the study and practice about four years ago. 

Tyne is pictured here with "Cheeky", his "sometimes naughty, but always playful" Axtell puppet,  According to Tyne, "Everyone loves him and I get a lot of enjoyment from him."   Isn't that the way it should be? 

Congratulations, Tyne!