It is with heavy hearts we inform you that Clinton Detweiler passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on January 22, 2013.
His love for ventriloquism and the many ways it allowed him to not just create objects but to connect with people was evident in all that he did.

Thank-you for being a part of his life...he enjoyed posting on the blog and trying to help those that had questions.  We are so sad that this blog will no longer continue.
Please know that if you have an order outstanding with him, we are doing our best to fill those in a timely manner. Please be patient with us.

As far as the contest of Darl Bennett's figure, we are closing the contest and returning the figure. We are unable to fulfill this wish.
We loved this man, husband, father, grandfather, friend.

Sincerely, Joy Detweiler Scheuerman


I purchased a circle cutter from Wal-mart and spent some time today trying to cut a neat circle of the proper size to display a coin (front and back) in a piece of mat board. Not happy with the results. I'll try again tomorrow. If I ever do get it, it may be the last one I try to do. :-)
Email note from K. S. Gode (India):
 "Pleased to inform you that first Ventriloquism Festival took place in India at Hyderabad on 23rd of December 2012. I was the Guest of Honor. Ventriloquists in and around the region attended this Festival. Most of them were using figures made by me. I was felicitated for my contribution towards promoting this art in India."
To DC:  The maximum number of animations the majority of todays' professional ventriloquist would have on a figure would be: eyes, and raising eyebrows - perhaps winkers.
But if you think about the characters being used by today's pros, there are some of the characters being used have no animations at all.
It's not the puppet used nor the number of animations on a figure that makes a professional. It's how the puppet/figure is manipulated in synchronization with the skillful presentation of a creative, humorous dialogue conversation. Delivery is more important than mechanics


Day 6 -
I have not viewed the DVD that comes with the Little Jeff ventriloquiust doll, but I understand the content is "kid friendly".  However, Kevin told me he talked with a mother who didn't even want their son to be seen using the Little Jeff doll for fear others might recognize the doll's source and somehow get the idea that by letting their son use the doll, they approved of the (adult) content Jeff's show.    Perhaps reaching a bit, but oh, the tangled web we weave....
To JD: Your Skinny is one of Mrs. Maher's earlier ones. I can tell by the mechanics. It would have been very rough on the outer surface as she would have finished it. But at some point it had come to me for refinishing and repainting, so it is super nice in appearance. Now it's making its second trip through my shop! Two trips to the "Dr" in 50 years - not bad at all! It still has the original wig. Mrs. Maher always had the maker of the wig (Meyer Jacoby of NY) write the last name of her customer on the underside of the wig - I noticed that name was "Watkins". Another curiosity - she wrote the name of the figure as "Skiny Dugan" (Only one "n" in Skinny) on top the head, under the wig - I guess she was in a hurry like we all get sometimes. There was no date. Probably early 1960s. but that's just a guess.

PS:  Yes, Adelia injured her leg last October and still has limited mobility.  So I'm
"chief cook and bottle washer".  I worked on your Skinny yesterday between loads of laundry.  :-)
I just took a look at an audition video Phil Nichols did for a new local Christian Kid's Show: Keys For Kiddos.  Phil will be doing 20 spots for the show.  Music and laugh track will be added, but you can see the piece at the link below.  It reminded me of a routine from Bill Boley's Gospel Routine book which I used myself a few times.


So on January 27 the USPS is raising postage rates again.  And while they hope to have the public distracted by a 1 cent increase on postage stamps and postcards (my assessment), they will raise the priority rates some 10%!   My goodness - so that's how you do it - when business drops off, just raise your prices!  I could still be in business!
To DC:  Wow - I'm so sorry to learn of the loss of your home and belongings, including ventriloquist dummy, in a fire. I can't imagine the heartache and headache experienced by such a tragedy! Yes, I do still build some 40" figures and thank you for thinking of me. But to try to create a figure in a likeness of you at age 4-5 (from a photo) would require building what I refer to as a custom "portrait" figure and that is not a service I provide. Nor do I offer some of the various animations you list. Have you checked with Tim Selberg or Tim Cowles?
You may have noticed - at the moment I'm treating my blog during my "Blog vacation" in sort of a "Facebook/Twitter" manner - simple posts with few bells and whistles... sorta fun again. We'll see where it leads. In the meantime, I hope to get a little more time in my shop, too.


My eBay buyer failed to follow through and does not reply to my email, so after 6 weeks of waiting, I have relisted my big 36" comical bird puppet (Buzzard) on eBay.  One-of-kind.  See current eBay listing for photos a full description:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290846166290
Congratulations to Anne Wilson (IL).  Anne has now completed both the Basic and Advanced sections of the Maher Course, and her Completion Certificate for the final section will go into tomorrow's mail  Anne expressed one of her goals is to "share this amazing art with others," helping "keep an ancient art alive into the 21st century."  I have to tell you that to someone who has made a career of teaching the art of ventriloquism, those words are music to my ears! 
Well, I just sold another book on ebay for 99 cents that will cost $1.61 in postage to ship.  I don't know how much longer I'll be able to afford my retirement hobbies!
Day 4 -
I still own an industrial paper cutter, but I keep it in a storage unit.  So I told Adelia I was going to be gone for a bit as I needed to trim some Course Lessons.
"Can't you just take one day off and do something other than ventriloquism?" was her response.

That brought me up short.  "I don't know what I would do that I enjoy as much", I said.  But I told myself maybe I should think about it.

That was yesterday - I still haven't thought of anything...  I think I'll go to my shop.
Okay - I'm on "vacation" from the blog in the same manner that I'm "retired" from Maher Studios. All my days (and emails) are filled with vent related minutes and activities. I'm just trying a couple new ways to make my life easier by spending less time at the keyboard.
From Dave Ferdinand:
 I purchased my Clipper figure from you about 14yrs ago in Littleton. I adore him. I know you have a Clipper and was wondering if you have made any adjustments to the length of his arms or legs to make him a little more proportional?

Dave:  Yes, I actually made several adjustments.  Clipper came to me as a 38" figure.  But I actually prefer a more petite size body - even if the head is a little oversize in proportion.  I think it gives the figure an "impish", "pixie" appearance which adds to the character's appeal.  Not to mention that it is easier to handle- less unwieldy.  So I first shortened the body torso itself by about 1.5 inches.  Then I shortened the arms. (I prefer arms to hang at a length so the  base of the thumb is even with the bottom of the torso.)  And I shortened the legs as well - I don't remember how much - just to where I was satisfied with his appearance and handling.  Clinton
From Wolfgang Meyer, Hamburg Germany: 
I did not find your homepage for some time. But just now I saw that you are back in business?
Or is that an old page?  I made the Course with you many years ago.That was the best. Have you got them still or again for sale?  I am still working with one of your puppetts.
Dear Wolfgang: 
It is good to hear from you again. We closed Maher Studios in 2006, but I'm still here. I still build a few figures, and yes, I still sell and provide student support for the Maher Course (www.mahercourse.blogspot.com) In fact, I completely revised and expanded the Course content in 2002. I do have a discounted price on the new version for Maher Course "alumni" such as yourself, if you are interested. I so glad to know your study of the lessons is continuing to serve you well after all these years! And I pray it will continue to do so far into the future!  Clinton
I've always been concerned about the matter of placing the same mask on various persons from act to act.  How sanitary can that be?  I know the conscientious vent will sanitize the mask between each and every use, but how does the audience volunteer know (unless prearranged). I can promise you if I was unexpectedly called up as an assistant during this worse that usual flu season, and the vent produced a mask for me to put over my face, I'd find a way to tactfully refuse.  Maybe it's just me?


I spent most of today preparing five Maher Courses.  I've been at this a long time and it still takes about one hour per Course with all the various components to: print, collate, staple, fold, gather, trim, bundle, drill, insert, seal, cut, assemble, sticker, register, double-check, box, label.  And now that that's done, I need to pack one Course for shipment to Pakistan.  More bundling, wrapping, boxing, labeling, custom's forms - not to mention $43 in required postage.  I'll order USPS pickup at the door - I'm ready for a nap!
I have a request here for a method to display both front and back sides of a Hall of Fame coin in a clear plastic case - with an autograph.  I'm working on it...

By the way, I do still have Set #3 available.  I'm shipping one out today and would be happy to accept more orders.
Well, I just sent off the order for Set #4 Hall of Fame Coins (2013-A)!  I should have coins for you in 5-6 weeks.
Day 3 -
I spent yesterday printing lessons for the Maher Course.  I printed and stapled them at Kinkos, but brought them home to fold.  As I was working at our kitchen table (don't have another place in the house to do such work) I was thinking, this is what you were doing 43 years ago when you started out - sitting at the kitchen table preparing lessons for Maher students!  I guess we've come full circle!
To WM: Having trouble keeping/finding a constant ventriloquial voice is pretty typical.  And that's why you need what the Maher Course calls a "benchmark" word or phrase. I can tell you that I used the word "shay" as a starting point for voice placement. I learned to easily say it consistently at the same tonal pitch and with the same resonance. Then I would start each practice session by saying "shay, shay, shay", and then go on with sentences. All in the puppet's voice of course. It helps with voice placement, by the way, to practice with puppet/figure in hand.
To DE:  Yes, I remember your dummy.  Time, weather, usage, temperatures - any can change the shape of a head just enough to cause a mouth to stick.  Try inserting a metal fingernail file into the slots along sides the mouth and file in and out where you can feel the mouth is tight or wedging. That should help.


Day 2 -
 I have a head here that just came in for repair that I can tell was made by Madeleine Maher, but refinished by someone (perhaps me?).  And repainted.  The painting is definitely my work.  The eye mechanics need repair. I'm eager to open the head to try to discover more about this figure.  But it is zero degrees out this morning - the job may have to wait a day or two, which means I will have to wait as well....


This matter is too significant to put off until February.  Darl Bennett sent me this nice ventriloquist figure (and case) with the following note:

"I would like to get this figure into the hands of a younger person just starting out who is serious about pursuing ventriloquism.  I remembers how hard it was to earn enough to purchase it myself many years ago.  However, since it has been going unused for over a year now, and you have proven yourself to be a man of sound judgement and extremely trustworthy, I have no problem letting you decide where and when to give it away."

Wow - those are amazing words and are received with responsibility.  So, here's my challenge - how do I find the perfect recipient for this generous gift?  That's where I need YOUR help.  Do you know of a young person with proven serious interest in becoming a ventriloquist?  A person to whom this figure would be a boost and asset to his or her career?  If so, send me an email naming the potential recipient and tell me why you feel the individual should be considered.  I'm accepting nominations now.  mahertalk@aol.com


"Closed for Vacation"
With this post, other than some possible brief updates, I will take a three week break from my daily blog postings.  On Feb 2nd, both Punxsutawney Phil and I will come out of hibernation long enough to see if we're ready to resume our previous routines - or if we need a few more weeks of sleep.
Thank you for you support - you're the greatest!
Clinton Detweiler
 From James Chaput
I am extremely thankful that you had a house in Littleton that had bad sewer lines and that you called me to fix them or I wold have never gotten into ventriloquism. The agreement between us was that I would clean your sewer line every 3 months for 2 years in exchange for the Maher Course and Clyde. I still have Squeecky, and Clyde.

This picture is from your blog on the 82-83 #500 pro series page, down towards the bottom. The Puppet on the left is buzzard, next to him is Gramps.   The bird in front of Gramps is Squeecky, and the dragon hat is below them. The figure next to these three is Clyde, a Maher Deluxe figure that was my first figure that I learned the Maher Course with. The figure on the right is Johnny a #500 Pro Series figure that got stolen from my plumbing truck in '83. As you know I picked up your last #500 pro series  figure in 2011 who I named Larry, and he ran for president last year. http://www.larrythedummyforpresident.com/
*  *  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Yes, that big house did have chronic sewer problems.  YOU, Jim, were the only good thing we experienced as a result!   :-)


A couple days ago I gave the eBay link to a copy of Clifford Guest's Course in Ventriloquism that I am selling. 

Here, today, is a link where you can see and hear him in performance:


You'll see the very funny "Baby Cry" routine, some Polyphony (he was the master of sound effects), and finally a funny routine with his vent figure where the figure tries to run away from him rather than being put into the case. 

A few days ago a friend sent me an email asking how I thought he does the "running bit".  I think the figure's pants have very "thin limp legs" within. The weight of the shoes and movements of the torso provide all the exaggerated leg movement. The rest is all acting on Guest's part.  You can watch it and see what you think.  Very simple - very effective and funny!  



In light this year's ConVENTion "Year of Maher", I've begun making note of some of the events and happenings experienced on this my double-talk journey.    50+ years involved with ventriloquists and ventriloquism.  Now I'm attempting to dust off forgotten memories.  Relive favorite happenings.
I'm enjoying the process, but could use your help.  If you could ask me any question(s) about Maher Studios, my career, or similar, what would you ask?  I could use some prompting from the wings!


CONTENTS: Introduction to Ventriloquism; Voice Throwing; Ventriloquial Alphabet; Lip Control; Ventriloquial Vocabulary; The "Punch" Voice; Ventriloquial Dialogue; The Old Man's Voice; Preserving the Health; The Foundation of Distant Voice Throwing; The "Drone" Voice; Some Distant Voice Effects; Arranging Dialogue; Entertaining in a Drawing Room; Ventriloquial Acting; Vocal Mimicry (Farm Yard animals and birds, wind in trees, sawing wood, musical instruments); A Word About Manipulation.
This is an obvious copy of the original. But the content from a master performer is good as gold!  eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/261152458452
NEEDS A FIX (Dummy style)
Question: I have an original Black Willie Talk, with original string, original body and clothing, and my aunt's shoes. His mouth does not close, and I don't know how to fix that so maybe you could help me. Zachary Gilbert
*  *  *  *  * 
From Mr. D: Without knowing exactly why the mouth does not close, it's difficult to recommend a fix.  My first suspicion is that the mouth rubber band has broken and needs to be replaced. If your Willie is a stuffed body doll and you plan to use it for vent presentations, I would suggest you have it converted to a hollow body doll with head on headpost.  The mouth could be repaired during this process with the rubber band replaced with a spring.  And you would have a much more usable doll.  The cost for such an upgrade is most definitely worth it and my son provides this service.  You can contact Kevin at: animatedpuppets@charter.net   Kevin's work is outstanding.  You will be very pleased!


Question:  Could direct me to a source where I could purchase the strap on ventriloquist mouth piece which is placed on the helper and the ventriloquist operates the mouth movement with a cable /air line?
SARAH JONES from Australia
uses the MIC-MOUTH on Steve Axtell
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From Mr. D:  I receive this inquiry rather frequently, but unfortunately, I do not know of a source for the "ventriloquist mask".  Maybe someone reading this knows?

 I do know Steve Axtell's "Mic Mouth", used for the same purpose, is a very effective option (and in some ways better, in my opinion).  Check it out: http://www.axtell.com/micmouth.html


I want those stickers you have on ebay.  Can you make it a bill so I can pay with paypal?
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  The large ventriloquist case stickers you see being sold as a set on eBay are actually produced by my son, Kevin, and are being sold on eBay by my grandson, Jordan.  (I no longer have any case stickers of my own for sale.)  Sorry if that's a bit confusing, but imagine how it is for us Detweilers where ventriloquism is now a three generation affair!  :-)
Using the link below, you can purchase a set of the stickers  immediately on eBay using Paypal.  Or, you can email Kevin (animatedpuppets@charter.net) to see if he can sell you a set directly.


This photo of my brother, Jerry, his wife, Jane, and Irving was
taken last Summer after Todd Oliver's show in Branson.  However, I chose
to post this photo today, Jerry's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Bro!



For Sale:  The book is self-published by the author, Dr. Norm Clothier, career minister to youth. Mint condition. Date of Publication Unknown. There is a signed letter of introduction with this copy, but the letter, too, is undated. A great deal of very useful material fill the pages of this rare book, INCLUDING 14 ROUTINES for use in Sunday School, etc.  I listed all the titles on my eBay listing:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261148925474


Question:  I hope you can help me with this.  I live in Norway, so am basically having to find out about this via the net as there is no expertise to go to here for the info I need.

 I have an old ventriloquist dummy that I need to fix up for a show (50-60yrs old approx). The paint on his face is cracked, etc. I realise I will have to carefully sand off the old paint before repainting. My question is what kind of paint would be best to use for this? He seems to be made of some kind of compressed cardboard/paper, though I am not sure.

Also he has a small hole on his eyelid. I have wracked my brain trying to think of the material I can use to repair this.  The hole is where the eye crease is and therefore will be opening and shutting at this point. The edges need to disappear into the original material of the area. I thought of chamois leather but not sure how to lose the edges. Any suggestions? I would be very grateful for any advice you can give me. Poor 'Harald 'is looking very sorry for himself.
*  *  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Your figure was built by Len Insull and likely sold by Davenport Co. of England.  The head is actually made of paper mache, so I do not recommend trying to sand all the existing paint off.  Simply sand to remove any loose paint and to smooth edges.  I use acrylic paints.  But you will need to take special care with the leather areas (winkers, lower and upper lip).  Use paints very sparingly in the leather areas.  Paint on leather will make it stiff, brittle and more likely to crack and tear.  I mix "textile medium" with the paint used on the leather to help keep the paint flexible.  (Textile Medium is a liquid. It is intended to be mixed with acrylic paints when the paint is uses on cloth material. Generally sold at the same stores that sell the paints.)

If I was making the repair on the winker, I would not try to repair the existing leather.  Rather, I would replace it completely (a job that can be done from the outside).  I would use the thinnest piece of chamois I could find.  Spackling can be used to feather out the upper edge of the leather (below the eyebrow) so the edge does not show. 


During the July International Ventriloquist ConVENTion, Terry will be doing a show at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati and has invited ConVENTion goers to attend at NO CHARGE.  It has been arranged for buses to pick convention attendees up at the hotel and transport all to downtown Cincinnati to the beautiful Taft Theater to view Terry's fabulous show.

This offer will be for 4-DAY REGISTRANTS ONLY.  Get all the details on the official convention site:  http://www.venthaven.com/



In addition to my blog posts this year, I hope to keep in touch with you and other ventriloquists world wide via periodic email news releases, so if I have your current email address, you may also find a note from me in your email box from time to time.

2013 being the International Ventriloquist ConVENTion's, "Year of Maher",  I'll likely spend more personal time reflecting on my career as a ventriloquist as well as our correspondence with Madeleine Maher and our own 40+ year's experiences at Maher Studios.  Some of those stories and comments will likely show up on this blog.  My apologies in advance if I tend to become more personal than usual at times.   But, for now ...

"This is the day the Lord has made,
rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24