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Is Ventriloquism Becoming A Dying Art?
Revisit The World Of Ventriloqism And Enjoy A Hearthy Chuckle!
As a child I was always in awe by the Ventriloquists that I saw on T.V., and even to this day I enjoy watching this unique art, but is it a dying art? I don't really see it anymore on T.V., and the reason this came to mind was when I happened upon "Jeff Dunham" on Netflix. Once again ventriloquism grabbed my attention. I am a big fan of comedy in the first place, and to be able to use the imagination and project it through a puppet which the ventriloquist brings to life and makes the audience forget that it is just a mere puppet is just awesome! The conversations and the banter seem so real, and to me I feel as though sometimes everyone has conversations with theirselves like this, but don't get the chance to project them in such a way that we would like to, and this is why it makes us laugh!
Thinking back to when I was a young child, the first person I remember seeing was Sheri Lewis with Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse, and this was back in the early 1960's. Sheri had many talents such as, specilized magic acts, arcrobatics, juggling, baton twirling, ice skating, piano and violin. John W. Cooper taught Sheri to be a ventriloquist. She had such a wonderful career from at least 1952 when she won her first prize for pupperty on CBS T.V. series Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Sheri had been so many shows over the years, and I know she was a household name and loved by everyone, and who could ever forget the most loveable Lamb Chop? Sadly though Sheri Lewis passed away on August 2, 1998, after a battle with uterine cancer and viril pneumonia at the age of 65. Over the years she had many honors and awards.
Let us now take a trip down memory lane with the Ed Sullivan show. I will not be listing them in order here, as I was still a young child at the time, but I remember watching them with mom and dad. And I remember it was so much more fun than that old fogey music. At that time though I would of rather of watched a commercial on T.V. for anything at that point. Although as I grew older Ed did get better acts on his show, like Elvis and the Beatles ect., but back to the show.
Senor Wences: He made many appearances on Ed's show back in the 1950s & 1960s. He was a Spanish ventriloquist. He used his hand to create a character named Johnny, which he had drawn on his hand, and had a childlike face, and sat atop a headless doll. He had many talents, and could do many things, but he was never a favorite of mine. At the time however he was very popular and talented. He created the character in the box named "Pedro", and he was a disembodied head in a box, which ths came about on accident, but turned out to be an awesome hit! He retired at the age of 100 years old, and died when he was 103 years old in April of 1999.
Edgar Bergan: His sidekick was Charlie McCarthy, (who was Bergans lifelong sidekick), and what a comical pair they made. Edgar was born in Chicago Illinois on Febuary 16,1903, though he grew up in Michigan. Edgar was a self taught ventriloquist, which he learned from a mere pamplet when he was just 11 years old. Edgar first preformed in Vaudeville. He also preformed on the radio, which was really succesful for him back in the day. Edgar Bergan & CharlieMcCharthy played the Rainbow Room, and then went onto the Rudy Vallee's show, for a guest appearance ( Dec. 1936). Mr Bergans list of accomplishments go on and on through the years! Just so many to list. Mr Bergan died on Sept. 30th 1978, in his sleep, he had a kidney diesease, and he was 75 years old. Charlie McCharthy has a home in the Washington D.C. Smithsoniam Instution.
Paul Winchell: He was born in December 1922. Paul had many talents, such as: comedian, inventor, voice actor, and of course ventriloquist. He was really popular in the 50's & 60's. He was best known for Jerry Mahoney & Knucklehead Smiff, which were his dummy friends, both of which to me looked like " a sad Ken doll", lol. This man s a true classic! So many talents all rolled into one person. Mr Winchell died in June of 2005 from natural causes in his LA home.
Aside from the Ed Sullivan show, here are a few of my favorite ventriloqusts:
Jay Johnson: Who can forget him on the popular show "Soap", back in the day, when he played the character " Chuck Campbell". Chuck really beleieved that his puppet "Bob" was a real person ( this was a schizophrenic role), which Jay played for four years. Soap was one of my favorite shows back then, and I was sad when it went off the air. Back to Jay Johnson, he was born in Lubbock , Texas on July 11, 1949. He started performing at the age of 11 years old, when he played with his cousins doll and made it come alive. Jay had acute dyslexia, which dissapeared while he was in the world of imagery, and he was able to have self esteem. Then when he was in high school Jay produced and starred in his very own T.V. show, which was sponsored through a car dealership. Jay Johnson appeared in my T.V. shows, some of which are,Gimme a break, The Love Boat, Empty Nest, The facts Of Life, Dave's World, Simon & Simon. He also appeared in an episode of "That70's show", where he reprised his role of playing Chuck ( Bob)Campbell, as well as many other shows. Though Jay has live performences at thousands of comedy clubs, which he is best suited for, due to his quick wit and which his unbelievable technique are truely magical. He is just on spot at the right moment with his acts! Jay Johnson is just a joy to watch, and he will give you quite the chuckle!
My absolute favorite is Jeff Dunham! He was born on April 18, 1962, that must expalin why I like him so much, as I was born on the 21st of April in 59, so I know he has a great sense of humor! Beside my little attemp at humor.. Jeff Dunham is just awesome! Jeff was adopted when he was 3 months old. His adoptive parents were Howard & Joyce Dunham. Jeff grew up as an only child. At the age of 8 years old he recieved a Mortimer dummy with a how to album for Christmas from his parents. So began his career in ventriloquism. Jeff started performing as a teenager for audiences, such as church & school, and when he worked at Six Flags. Jeff had his ups & downs in the early years of his career. He has appeared on shows such as, The Tonight Show, Hot Country Nights, Comedy Central Presents, and with Larry The Cable Guy. In 2005 Jeff decided to finace his own comedy DVD.
Jeff Dunham was not an overnight hit sensation, as it took a lot of time to acheive this. His puppets are just to funny, and you do tend to believe that they are real! And each one has an unique personality. I do have my favorites. Which are in order here.
** Walter: The grouchy old man. He is a hoot! He gives Jeff a piece of his mind, and argues with him, as he is so epionanated. Walter always leans forward into the audience and shakes his head when he has made his point. Walter would like nothing better than to get rid of his wife, though with some prompting admits to Jeff that he does rather loves her, but... Plus nothing ever makes Walter happy. He complains all the time. Oh and Walters most famous saying is " Shut up dumb ass". Lol I even say this to myself a lot!
** Peanut: Lol! Oh just makes me laugh when I see him. He is just off the wall! He never shuts up, and really tries Jeff's patience. He comes up with so many topics to talk about, and goes on and on, and he always thinks he is right. Then he does that thing with his head. " voom!" His eyes are close set and he has big huge red lips, with chunky cheeks, lol. so it really makes hin look cute. He can not stay still. Peanut is really so cute.
** Bubba J: He knocks my socks off and makes me laugh so hard! He is a good ol' boy, and he does love drinking his beer, from morming to nite! He loves Nascar, and has no job. But he can tell you a cute story in a heartbeat, and bring a smile to your face!!
My not so favorites are: Achmed ( I Will Kill Youuu ) and Joses Jalspeno,' even tho he is on a steek!", and yes folks that word " Steek" was spelled right for Joses. They will only get a little chuckle out of me sometimes. I do like how Peanut taunts and makes fun of Joses.
There are so many wonderful and talented ventriloquist out there, and I wish there were more shows on T.V. featuring them. I also wish I could have their talents as well and to be able to do what they do.