Happy Halloween!

 This huge Styrofoam 2-D skull came from Wal-Mart. It's mounted on a bulletin board which I painted black. The mouth is now animated but not hinged. Rather, it is made to slide up and down to open and close.   (The control is on the back side.)


I am enjoying the speaksakes book that you sent me. I must say that these are some very original and creative ideas. I like especially the chapter on making puppets out of plush toys. Again thank you for your generosity in sharing this information. God bless you.
Your friend, James.
*  *  *  *
From Mr D:  Thank you, James.  (I do have a few copies left in anyone else is interested...)


From Willem Stapelberg
Hello Mr D:  Here's a picture of an old book that I found by Cecil.H.Bullivant, date 1910.  It has a chapter touting: "ventriloquism in one month".
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  A few pages of vent instruction with the promise you'll be one in one month.  Not bad!  I used to begin my one hour ventriloquist workshops promising attendees when they left the session at the end of the hour they would know how to be a ventriloquist.  But I never promised how skilled they would be - you and I both know to become truly skilled you would need at least two or three hours - maybe as much as a month!  (Or, perhaps, a lifetime.)


It's Never Too Late!

Attention: Clinton Detweiler
Dear Sir,
Thank you for your promptness in forwarding my course in Ventriloquism. I found the material including the DVD most informative. My intent is to work with seniors and to add a ray of sunshine in their lives. I realize the necessity of discipline, as on October 18th I turned 94. My goal is to illustrate my talent on my 95th birthday. Thanks again for your interest and professionalism.
Ken Thornton
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D: 
What an encouragement YOU are! About the time I start thinking, "I'm getting too old for this," along comes your email! I guess I better take a deep breath, and get back out to my shop where several projects await!
For many years I've told people how Clinton White was the most senior student to enroll in the Maher Course of Ventriloquism.   And, until now, he was.   Mr. White purchased the Maher Course at age 84 and like yourself, performed for seniors, friends, family, and community for a good number of years. And very successfully. But you now have raised the bar, beginning your study of ventriloquism at age 94. With the determination and enthusiasm you express, I'm betting you will "illustrate your talent" before your next birthday!  Please stay in touch.


STEPHEN AND OTHER DUMMIES with "The Prince of PrOpS TOUR" are headed to 11 shows in Kentucky and plan on making their first visit to the Vent Haven museum. PBS has contacted them and wants to do a behind the scenes feature on their tour.  You can find them on Facebook: Stephen and Other Dummies.


Question:   Is there a national ventriloquism day presently? Sincerely,  Jeremiah Ward
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Oh, I'm sure there is although I can't tell you when it is. I know there is a National Ventriloquism week in July, generally around the time of the International ConVENTion. I'll post your question on my blog to see if anyone has the "official dates", if they exist.
Meghan Casey and her cast of characters at the Colorado Association of Libraries Convention. She had great response and is booking show's now for Summer 2013.


First snow of the season this morning - more forecast for tonight.  This little fellow
wants me to promise I'll only ship him South - and soon.  I'm trying to
convince him he should wait until I have his body finished!  I'm
almost there...just need to connect his flapping wings and
add his feet.

Question:   Do you have a website or address for Chuck Jackson?  Philip
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Sorry, I do not have contact info for Chuck Jackson - I think it's probably been 20-25 years since I communicated with him. Not purposely. Chuck has pretty much separated himself from the vent world. Tim Cowles purchased all Chuck's figure masters. He's producing some figures from Chuck's masters as well as his own characters. http://www.timcowles.com/about-tim.html


A Figure with a Past

Question:  I have a figure that I am selling online. I got an email saying that the person thought it was from the Maher Studios and made in the mid 90s. They said to send you an email and see if you could confirm or if you know any more. Also, do you know what it may be worth?  Chuck

*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  If this is the figure I think it is, it is the same figure I'm holding in the photo that appeared on "The Great Ventriloquist" collector card (1993). Further, if that is true, it is a one-of-a-kind figure from the "Woodcarved Classic" figures by Craig Lovik, sold by Maher Studios. It sold for $1,000.00 new - a bargain on today's market for a similarly equipped custom woodcarved figure.


Mr. D:   I carved the lower legs for my lady figure using scraps of styrofoam, covered them with paper mache, Polyfilla, and they look awesome and they are very light.  That way they can keep the high heel shoes on in a natural way.

 I have the legs connected at the knees by a small ring, the kind you find in keyrings. That way the legs are always closed and they don't open when I'm taking the figure from the case and sitting her on the stand, etcetera, which would be very "unlady" like. Of course it's very easy to separate them by unhooking (is that the right word?) one of the legs for dressing and packing.

From Canada, Marcelo Melison.


"See and Sip"

Dear Mr. D,
I have two quick questions for you.
#1 Where can you find good eye-glasses for dummies?
#2 What sources do you know of that sell the water glass within another water glass for vent demonstrations?
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  
#1 For greatest visibility of eye movement, I prefer that there be no lens in the eyeglasses figures wear.   For eyeglasses for figures, I just buy cheap kids' (or adult) sunglasses and remove the dark lens.
#2 Magic suppliers have the "Magic Milk Tumbler" - at least that is where I used to purchase them. I purchased from D. Robbins & Co. but they do have minimums: http://www.ezmagicrobbins.com/catalog/productDetails.aspx?ProductID=19650


From Mike Horner:

Recently I needed to make a bow tie for a hand puppet I made...and I recalled a simple method for making bow ties that you had shared years ago (perhaps in your "Making Speaksakes" booklet). 

If I recall correctly you used felt and simply hot glued the edges.  I used the same method but used a slightly shiny fabric and sewed the edges.  Simple and looks great!

Thanks for sharing all your tips and tricks over the years...they come in handy!
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Yes, the bow tie pattern was in the "Creating Speaksakes" book.  It's encouraging for me to hear that those past ideas are continuing to prove themselves useful today!   I still have a few copies of the "Speaksakes" book.  If you are reading this and are interested in receiving a copy, send me an email.



Question:   I have a question. Do you remember the license plate frames that said, "I talk for 2"; and had the word "ventriloquist" at the bottom?? I had one for a long time and recently was broken after going thru a car wash. I think they were sold thru Maher studios. Do you have any available and where could I get one?  Ron
*   *   *   *   *
From Mr. D:  Oh my yes, I remember them well.  During the '70s we sold the frames that were made of metal.  During the '90s I had some colorful ones made up from plastic.  Unfortunately, I have none remaining.  (Mine was broken about 20 years ago in a "bumper-bender".)


Meghan Casey was hired to entertain to entertain at the Gilpin County Fair doing walk around vent.   She made good friends there with the operator of a mobile air museum. She used Aidan, her side kick, from the cockpit to get people to check it out. Aidan told every one that jets are actually propelled by miniature dragons. (Side note: The director of the Fair also had Aidan be the auctioneer.)  Both Meghan and Aidan, (an Axtell puppet), had a great time.  You can check it out on Aidan's Face book page. http://www.facebook.com/#!/RockyMountainPuppets


Comment:  For what it's worth, I still prefer the longer neck with head-stick going all the way to the bottom inside of the body. The ball-and-socket neck is just too short for me. The fact Larry has a longer neck inside the body makes it possible and fun for him to extend it when he goes for a higher note when singing, or gets excited, or lower his head in embarrassment, even almost gives the appearance of a shrug. Just my opinion, especially now that we have "Cody" with us now so we can actually compare the two styles.
*  *  *  *  *
Mr. D: You have just pointed out the one big advantage of the "drop through" type neck....the ability to raise and lower the head for some very effective visual expressions! 


VINTAGE BODY FOR THE 32" VENTRILOQUIST DOLL DUMMY PRODUCED BY JURO DURING THE 1960'S, first for Jerry Mahoney, and then for Danny O'Day. This one is original, in excellent condition. I took it from a Danny O'Day and have kept it in smoke free climate controlled storage.  Inside photo on my eBay listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290794401114


ONE PAIR PAINTED BARE FEET FOR 34"-36" VENTRILOQUIST FIGURE - NEW! Lightweight, strong cast urethane, professionally hand painted. Natural shape and design allows the feet to wear shoes normally with full ankle support, or go barefoot with lifelike appearance. 6.5" tall; foot 4" in length.  See more photos on the eBay listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261114607757
19"/20" FEMALE WIG - These are new wigs are being sold from the remaining stock of quality synthetic wigs I used to wig select female characters from the 35" and 38" Knee Pal series of ventriloquist figures.  Your choice of blond or black colors.

VENTRILOQUIST EDGAR BERGEN, MORTIMER SNERD, CHARLIE McCARTHY, W.C. FIELDS, and FANNY BRICE were featured in this article, "Radio and The Invisible Audience". 
This is a high quality reproduction on poster paper of two pages from the article (printed front and back; pages 105 and 106 from an unknown publication) that focused primarily on the brilliant talent of Bergen.  One bit of insulting humor between Charlie and W.C. Fields is included:
Fields (singing) Give me my boots and my bottle.
McCarthy (to Bergen):  Here comes W. C.  You're a walking ad for black coffee, Bill.  Hello, Mr. Fields, hello.
Fields: Hello, my little chum.  I was thinking about you only yesterday.
McCarthy: No!  You were!
Fields: Yes, I was cleaning out the woodshed.  Reminded me of you.
McCarthy: Mr. Fields, is that your nose or a new kind of flame-thrower?
Fields: You'd better come out of the sun, Charles, before you come unglued.
McCarthy: Do you mind if I stand in the shade of your nose?

To own this ventriloquist memorabilia item, bid here:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290793407231


Original 6 PG SHEET MUSIC (1938) Good condition ;
Some of the Cast pictured on the cover: Adolphe Menjou, The Ritz Bros., Zorina, Kenny Baker, Ella Logan, Andrea Leads, Helen Jepson, Bobby Clark, Jerome Cowan, and of course, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy.
eBay:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261114478073 

THIS VINTAGE MAGAZINE is filled with fascinating articles, stories, ads and pictjres, but it is a must-have for the ventriloquist collection primarily due to the 4 page article with photos featuring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, titled:
"The Double Life of Edgar Bergen" (Part One)

eBay:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290793390210

Mark Wade Writes...

Mark Wade Writes:


We can often be our own worst critics!  No truer words have ever been written..and I think we performers get an extra dose of this.  We try things and if they don't work in the show the first time, we blame ourselves and get into a "funk".  We literally beat ourselves up when instead we should look for the GOOD parts of the show and move forward.

Next time you do a show and you walk off stage and feel like it wasn't your best performance, remember..we always seem judge ourselves harshly.  To us is was a failure, when in fact, many people enjoyed it and were really entertained.  Now I am not writing this to say you should delude
yourself into thinking every show that you did was a "home run" and that you are the greatest vent that ever picked up a puppet.  Let's be realistic.  We can all improve..we all can do a bit better...and as long as you are striving and learning you ARE moving forward.

I got some words of wisdom from my vent friend Taylor Mason this year at the Vent Haven ConVENTion.  Taylor in essence said "When I go out on a show I don't have to compete with anyone..not Jeff Dunham ..not Terry Fator.  I just have to be the BEST ME, the BEST ENTERTAINER,  that I can be for this show at this time!!"  Taylor is confident and he is a great
act.  These words should be a benchmark for all of us.  Be the BEST entertainer you can be when you do your show...and please, be kinder to yourself! You deserve it!!

Mark Wade: markwade@kidshowvent.com

Paul Winchell book

From Connie Ray (Sweden):

I just read your blog and about the book of Paul Winchell.

In 1958 I bought the book in a bookshop here in Sweden (right). If you note in the upper right corner, the price in USA was $1 which was printed on the cover. This original book has 221 pages.

Some years later I bought the same book on a magic convention (below)
and this book has a green cover, the font size is larger and it has 190 pages.

When I compare the book the green one looks much as a cheaper copy.

*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D: 
Thanks for the pictures and your comments. Yes, I've seen both of the books. In fact, we sold the book with green covers for a while. I purchased them direct from Paul, himself, and he signed all the copies. I wish I still had some of them, but I do not.
Like most books I believe the first edition was hardcover, then the reprint was paperback. Pretty standard procedure in the publication world.
I will say, it is still one of my favorite ventriloquist books. My first training as a vent came from that book and I built my first vent figure following the instructions from that book.


THIS VINTAGE big MAGAZINE IS LOADED WITH FASCINATING ARTICLES, PHOTOS, Fiction Stories (6) and ADS. But it is a must for the ventriloquist collection primarily due to the 4 page article with photos featuring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, titled:
"Woman Trouble In Charlie McCarthy's Future", and
"The Double Life of Edgar Bergen"

EBay listing with additional photos:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261114053990
LIFE MAGAZINE 7/26/1937 Complete magazine, very good condition.
With 12 PHOTO two-page spread on CHARLIE McCARTHY titled: "Charlie McCarthy is the Most Objectionable Man in America". 
Some quotes from the article:

"Charlie has become steadily more saucy, caustic and independent until at times he has seemed to be quite beyond his creator's control."

A quote within the article from the New York Times: "Charlie McCarthy, the overbred brat of the radio, is so insufferably satisfied with himself that it is risky to praise him in public."

And from LIFE editors: "This wooden imp of the radio who sits on a ventriloquist knee has no respect for his betters.  Make no mistake about it, he is a bad egg.  And his personality is developing so rapidly that even Mr. Bergen is losing control of him, and week by week has less and less to say for himself.  Charlie Frankenstein McCarthy may be the proper way to refer to him a few months from now."

Serious writings or tongue-in-cheek?  I'll let you decide.  Whatever - it's history now! The series of photos of Charlie and Bergen with W.C. Fields and their dialogue captions are most entertaining to see and read.  I've listed more about this rare issue of LIFE magazine on my eBay listing:
Actual 5" x 7" ad clipped from a magazine (or Radio Guide).
Photo caption reads: "Spinning yarns at a party given by Charlie McCarthy, attended by Mortimer Snerd, is many-voiced EDGAR BERGEN. Scene from WALT DISNEY'S Fun and Fancy Free, a full-length Technicolor musical. DINAH SHORE, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, also shine in the cast."

Add this add to your collection of ventriloquist paper memorabilia: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261114030812
With the lace bordered closed collar, long sleeves, opening in back, this dress outfit is custom sewn for the ventriloquist figure. Compare in size to children's sizes 2T-3T. The bloomers (see eBay listing) are purposely designed to cover the doll's skinny, less than attractive legs.
Ebay:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261114025396
Question: I am having trouble with lower lip wanting to move.
My upper is fine and no jaw movement . Do you know of any extra exercises that may help the problem? or anything that help the problem?  Tom
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr D:  I know having a slight smile on you face will lessen lip movement, but as for specific exercises (other than focused practice), I know of none.  Any of you readers want to comment on this matter?
Comment:   With vent on the rise, what are the odds of reviving the N.A.A.V.? I would dedicate my time to it, as I believe that there needs to be a Vent organization that more members can be recruited and meet. Whaddya say?  Tony G.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D.  I totally understand. And I'm with you - in spirit. For years NAAV had between 2,500 and 2,750 members. Newsy Vents newsletter had double that in readership.
Then came the Internet. More and more people chose this new, faster, cheaper way to connect and chose not to renew their NAAV memberships. Finding new members/subscribers for the NAAV and Newsy Vents was increasingly difficult.  At the same time, printing and postage costs doubled. I had to reimburse more and more of the costs myself.
I decided when membership fell below 1,000 I would disband the organization. That happened in 2004.
I continued to publish the Newsy Vents through 2005, paying full costs myself. Then I dropped the printed/mailed version and switched to my daily on-line blog which I continue to this day.
I loved the old days which provided hundreds of great memories. But I have no desire to go back - too costly and too frustrating from my perspective.
If you liked Newsy Vents, you would enjoy Tom Ladshaw's "Gottle O' Geer" newsletter (which I recommend to all vents, by the way). It is free, and simple to sign up for. Go to Tom's website: http://gogproductions.com/ and sign up from the link in the lower right corner of the home page.


You will receive actual pages from the magazine. All excellent condition. Photos of The Great Lester, W. S. Berger in Vent Haven Museum, Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney with Diane Sinclair, Jimmy Nelson with pocket size dummy entertains Patti Page.

Quote from article Intro: "Did you ever hear the story of the dummy who choked when his master drank straight whiskey? Or Edgar Bergen's odd will, which leaves $10,000 to Charlie McCarthy? Or of the manikin who couldn't remember his lines? Do some voice throwers really think they are two persons? The evidence will surprise you..."

For sale now on eBay:
"This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me,
politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools,
The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships,
factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.
The plentiful manikins skipping around
in collars and tail'd coats."

Odds and Ends

FOR SALE:  VENTRILOQUIST MISC. LOT of clippings, flyers, newspaper articles; Check this list - you receive everything listed:
1)"Cowboy Eddie" Howie Olson (12/4/1984) Capital Times article with 2 pics (photo copy)
2)Peter Rich with Rawhide 8.5 x 11 flyer with picture of a young Peter Rich
3)Steve Hart, 2 page copy of an article from the Chicago Tribune (date unknown)
4)Two ventriloquists featured in an article from 4/24/1983 St. Paul Dispatch: David Sleeper and Wally Leslie. Original page from paper)
5)Prudential ad copy from 1991 featuring a photo of a very young Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
6)Jeff Dunham and Peanut are featured in The Boston Globe, Names & Faces, 3/25/1993 (Original)
7)Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop were first page feature of this 12/18/1991 Wall Street Journal announcing their return to TV (complete issue of newspaper)
8)Jeff Dunham, Peanut and Walter were announced for their upcoming Show at Nick's Comedy Shop in this 3/26/1983 issue of The Boston Phoenix. (Original)
9)Todd Oliver and Joey's full color photo announcing their appearance at a local school was front page news of the 3/22/1990 Community section of The Star Tribune (original)
10)Paul Winchell (2 photos) was featured in 3/16/1983 issue of St. Paul Press in an article titles, "Ventriloquist Gives Voice to His Religion".
11)James Wedgewood with Patrick McWiggens were pictured in7/14/1986 Richfield Sun-Current announcing their appearance at a local library. (Original newspaper page)
12)A very young Todd Oliver is part of a ventriloquist feature, 2/4/1986 St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch. (Original newspaper Extra section)
13)The New York Times, 10/30/1993 front page had a photo feature about Officer and ventriloquist BOB GEARY and dummy working their beat together on the streets of San Francisco. (Original paper)

This is good! And rare!

THE BEST 100 JIMMY NELSON JOKES! All in dialogue style, printed on heavy stock paper with each joke on 3x5 size layout, ready to clip and file. General Humor for the Ventriloquist or Puppet script writer. This is GOOD! (And RARE!)  Original - not a copy.  For sale:

Another Val Andrews script book (Illustrated)

By Val Andrews (Supreme Magic) 7 Novelty Ventriloquist Presentations
Table of Contents:

1) The Talking Cane, with a neat twist or rather, jump.2) Hand in Glove, Talking-hand routine with lovable character.
3) Ramblin' Rose, A Vent Novelty for the Button-hole.
4) Jug Toby, The talking beer-stein
5) FIRED!, An orginal Ventriloquial scena for the stage or TV.
6) The Old Master, Another first class vent-scena.
7) In Port Again, Nautical Vent-sketch. Full length variety act.

Collect Vent themed Comics?

If you collect comics with ventriloquist theme, here's another one for you.  Not a copy - you can own the full 4 page 1986 comic section where this is printed. 
This Sunday newspaper section  from December (original, not a copy) was kept because of the crazy ventriloquist themed cartoon by Jerry Van Amerongen.  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261112992343


For Sale (eBay)

By Val Andrews (Supreme Magic) 5 Novelty Ventriloquist Dialogues and Items
Table of Contents: 1) The Demon Nicotine, five minute dialogue for ventriloquist with boy dummy; 2) Home Truths, Another short sharp routine of smart repartee; 3) Second Childhood, An oustanding novelty vent presentation for vent, life size dummy and girl assistant; 4) In Town Tonight, Burlesque on the well known radio program. Vent and Cheeky-boy; 5) The Ostrich-egg, An original novelty-idea and routine with an unusual automata. A reputation maker for vent or magi.
A couple weeks ago my brother, Jerry, and his wife, Jane,
enjoyed Todd Oliver's Show in Branson. 

Okay, Jane, make Irving talk!


For Sale


Copyright 1972, Author DARRYL HUTTON


More details with complete chapter list on my eBay listing:

Newbie requests advice

Questions:  I'm about to do my first show in November. I have your 30 Lesson Maher Course and completed the exam for the first 15 Lessons.  I will do the rest in a month.  I am still feeling nervous. I feel I have a good grasp on the voice , but need to be a able to sell it. Only a hand held mike available and very small stage with no curtains. Any advice on a way to not feel so nervous and prepare? Should I have Sammy on my knee or on a stand?  Pip
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr D:  The first show is the most difficult, I believe.  Be sure you know your routine well.  Is there an off stage hall or room from which you can enter when announced?  If so, use it to prepare before entrance.  Enter with a smile on your face and give the appearance of enjoying yourself.  Enthusiasm is catching.  If there's any way to use a lapel mike, or if the hand held mike could be placed into a mike stand, that would be preferable to your having to hold it.  And I would recommend a stand for Sammy.  That enables you to stand on both feet and you can actually shift your own weight during the show which I believe you will find more relaxing, providing bonus confidence. 

I will send you the book, Conquering Stage Fright.  And perhaps there are vents reading this who will want to add their supportive tips and comments. 


For Sale:

This magazine is perfect for any ventriloquist collection because of the feature article, The Golden days of Radio, with photos of Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Jim Ameche, Jack Armstrong, Orphan Annie, and of course, Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy.
There's a bonus article ventriloquists especially will love: Ye Olde Shaggy Dogs: The jokes you used to love. There are some here that still work in today's dialogues!

Question: About two years ago I found a 2' to 3' scooby-doo dog made with a detective type hat and cape laying in the back yard. We put it in the storage barn hoping to find the owner, no owner was ever found thinking of making a soft puppet out of it if possible. Just wondered if there would be anything wrong in doing this?
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  I have converted many commercially produced dolls, stuffed animals, and products into puppets.  That includes cartoon, movie, and TV characters such as Big Bird, Elmo, Shrek, etc. There's no problem as long as you use them for your own personal shows. (No TV, videos for resale, etc.)  You can see photos of a number of such characters I converted to vent figures here:  http://maherphotos4.blogspot.com/


For Sale

Question:  Several days ago you published a letter about the Ventriloquism Revealed books.  It sounds like the writer wants one.  I may like a copy myself as it sounds like something to collect.  Maybe with a Mr. D autograph.  If possible!   Bill D.
*  *  *  *  *  * 
From Mr. D: I do have about a dozen of these illustrated 32 page books. For a time I was sending one with each figure I built until more recently when I started sending the Ventriloquism In A Nutshell books.   I will sign and sell the Ventriloquism Revealed copies I have for $5.00 each postpaid.  These copies do have my name on the cover as author.

From Mike Palma:

Here is a picture of my "Jingo" figure my father got for me, from Maher Workshop, when I was a kid. Believe it or no,t that was over 30 years ago! Originally carved by Craig Lovik and then re-carved by Chuck Jackson. Still my main character and still my favorite!! Without Maher Studios, I would have never become a ventriloquist!  Many thanks for all your help and support throughout the years!!
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  You're welcome, of course!  The Jingo is a favorite character for many.  I have a Jingo here of my own that needs some refurbishing.  When I get that done, he will go on the auction block - something he eagerly awaits.

Insull figures - a question

Question:  I am trusting this letter finds you and your loved ones well. I am writing to you to gather some information about Len Insull figures. I have seen on your blog that some Davenport/ Insull type figures have passed through your shop for repairs and makeovers. I would like to know how the teeth are made and of what materials. Also if you could enlighten me as to how the upper lip movement is assembled would be a great help.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  The teeth of the Insull figures are made from a strip of metal, crimped to appear as teeth.   The strip is supported by wire soldered to the back side of the "teeth", but I don't remember exactly how they are mounted (on the ends or from the rear).  I've never built a figure with the raising upper lip, so I'm the wrong person to ask about specific details.  I can tell you that the concept is basically like a very wide narrow winker.  Do you have William Andersen's book, Make Your Own Dummy? In it he has a design sketch for the raising upper lip as well as numerous additional head and body animations.  (I do have a handful of copies: $10 each postpaid.)


How many Maher Graduates?

Comment:  I imagine that you graduated a whole lot of people from Maher Vent School.
*  *  *   *  *
From Mr. D:  Over a period of 78 years (1934-present), many thousands...that record was not kept accurately, but if I had to give you an "educated" guess, I'd say 20,000+.  And there's still time to add to that number!   www.mahercourse.blogspot.com

Free Ventriloquist E-Books

From Bob Albano:
I have had a couple of requests recently for my free ebooks.
So, I have made them available again on the vent section of my new website:

Winchell book

Question:  I was looking for ventriloquist books on Amazon. They have a Kindle book called "How to Build a Ventriloquist Dummy”. I bought it out of curiosity and it is just a copy of the Paul Winchell’s book “Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit.”   It has only the chapters on how to build a dummy. I also see that Amazon offers a reprint of his book as well. And a full Kindle copy each with a 2010 copyright. My question is Paul’s book Copyrighted when he offered it or is it public Domain? 
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From Mr. D: I have an original hardcover copy of Paul Winchell's book, Ventriloquism For Fun and Profit.  It belonged to Mrs. Maher (she wrote her name and address inside the book), and it still has the somewhat tattered dust cover.  I have thought of selling it, but can't quite bring myself to do it.  Anyway, I know it is a first edition, and I checked the copyright page.  It is printed, "Copyright 1954, Paul Winchell".  You ask if the book is now in public domain but I can't answer that.  I don't know if Paul renewed the copyright, or if so, for how many years.



Question:   I saw the photo of the Wilson figure that has gone unclaimed after the repair restoration work you did on him.  Could I purchase him for my young son by paying the overdue charges?  Certainly Wilson's owner must no longer have need of him, and you should not be left unpaid after all the hours you have invested in him.  I'm willing to take him off your hands and give him a good home.  H.K.
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From Mr. D:   The total due on Wilson's restoration is $350. But that is head only.  He would need a body and that would be an additional charge.   There would be less expensive ways for you to provide a figure for your son. And unless your son has shown serious and continuous interest in becoming a ventriloquist, I would not advise you to start him off with a full size professional figure. It's better, in my opinion, to start a young person with a nice beginner figure, one that has head, mouth, and perhaps eye movement, and then let them prove their interest and "earn" the right to select a professional figure that appeals to them, their style of performance, and the character they have in mind to work with.

I do thank you for your interest in Wilson.  Admittedly, I am perplexed by the owners failure to respond to my attempts to contact him.  It is possible I will be forced to find a new home for him, but I'll likely give him a totally new look before doing so.


Comment:  My name is Susana.  Here is a picture of me with my friend, Annabella.  What do you think? I appreciate to hear from you.
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From Mr. D:  I'd say it looks like the two of you were made for each other!   Although you had a ridiculously long wait for her, now that she has arrived, you can be proud of your new Tim Cowles figure.  Very nice.

Word for the day

Take a look at Word for Today by ventriloquist Willie Brown and Woody:
Word For The Day Video

I have to say, it always makes me a bit proud (maybe I should say "pleased") to see a Maher grad skillfully at work.  Willie blessed us with the following comments as well:

 "I appreciate you and all that you have done for me and to help jumpstart my career in ventriloquism. I've been performing now for over twenty years. I was a winner of The Most Promising Ventriloquist Award in the Junior Competition at the National Ventriloquist Convention in Ft. Mitchell, KY in 1980. You along with Jimmy Nelson, Willie Tyler, Al Semok, Mark Wade, Bill Boley, Dale Brown and many other great vents helped to inspire me, and for that I'm forever grateful."  Willie Brown


Personalized Books

Question and Comment:  Years ago you came out with some books that that I had my picture on the front and it had a short course inside. Where could I get more? If you still have that information I would like it so I could some made ... Here is my old course (photo right), that I'm going to train my grandbaby.
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From Mr. D:  You are asking about the "Ventriloquism Revealed" books that were printed with the names and photos a individual ventriloquists on the cover.  The inside pages of the book were written by me and illustrated by David J. Miller.  They were written to introduce people to the art of ventriloquism - what it was, how it was accomplished, and how it could be used.  The book also informed the reader about the NAAV (North American Association of Ventriloquists) who was sponsor of the book.  I was President of the NAAV.  I believe we printed something like 20,000 copies and sold them in lots of 100.   This book publishing arrangement with ventriloquists was discontinued when the NAAV folded as an organization (2004).

Kudos to you for sharing your skill and fun with your grandchild.  What a great gift and legacy!



Question:  This week I performed for a local Rotary club. An individual asked me what my fees were. He said I should post fees on my web site.

Examples : $100 - Birthday party
$200 - 40 minute general show
$300 - School assemblies
What do you think ?

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From Mr. D:  I would not post fees anywhere. Fees often have to be (or may be) negotiated (up and down). The rates you list seem fair.   While the rates you list seem fair, I believe it would be to your disadvantage to post the fees.
Once you quote a price to a client, I would not agree to cut the price if they truly can't afford the price. Rather, tell the mom wanting the birthday party, "Well, if you can't afford the $100 show, how about if I come with my $75 show...not as many puppets (tricks) but still a great deal of fun for your kids." You may actually present the same or similar show, but it's better business to appear to have shows of varying prices rather than being indiscriminate with your prices.


Repainting figures - (value)

Question: Should a collector figure be repainted?
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From Mr. D:  When I build a figure I prefer that it be used, not collected - that's my take as a figure maker.   I'd much prefer they be used year after year and repainted if and when necessary by whomever could do a good job on them.

However, I do recognize collections exist.  And the owners of the figures sincerely want to preserve them for future generations.   What is the proper process?   Collectors of antique automobiles generally want them restored to pristine condition as near to original as possible.  Does the same hold true for a vent figure?  I doubt there is one answer that is true for all figures.

 I know Vent Haven has had some of the Marshall figures repainted for restoration purposes, haven't they?   But there are other pieces in the collection, such as the shipwreck figures, where an attempt at restoration would be a mistake.    I know Jimmy Nelson has Danny repainted frequently by Ray Guyll, but Danny is still a working figure and should be kept looking his best.

So - should a collector figure be repainted?  I'll let the owner make that decision and then lend a hand if I'm called upon. 


Six Coins Free!

Most of you have one or more of the year 2011 TWO CENT ventriloquist coins.  The coins you see here are the current year 2012 TWO CENT coins.  Beginning today, I will send a set of six Two Cent coins as a FREE bonus with every set of Hall of Fame Coins purchased for the rest of this year, 2012.

 Order one set Hall of Fame coins and I'll send six bonus TWO CENT coins; order 2 sets HOF coins and I'll send 12; order 5 sets HOF coins and receive 30 bonus TWO CENT coins, etc.  Now you can give people your "two cents" and they'll welcome it!



Framed Hall of Fame Coins

 Question:  Received the coins and I like them just fine.    Will you continue to offer the coin sets framed?  Norman

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From Mr. D:  Yes, I will continue to offer all sets of coins framed.   But you need to be aware the the frame styles may vary from set to set.   My dealer has a new selection every time I go in to replenish my supply.  I will be certain all frames match on any one order, but I cannot match previous frames nor guarantee a match in the future.  Note: framed sets will include a fifth coin to display the reverse of the four facial images.  (Framed price: add $15 per set.)

 I also stock albums for coin display, collecting, and preservation.  Photos and details here: www.hofcoins.blogspot.com   (The Dansco Album is my choice for my personal collection.)