Ever since I was a kid, I’ve liked puppets, puppeteers and ventriliquists. I practically grew up with Edgar Bergen and his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, on the radio in the 1940s (yes, strange as it may sound, a ventriloquist had one of radio’s most listened-to shows in those days). In the 1970s, my kids grew up with Jim Henson and the Muppets on TV. You might say my family started with dummies and advanced into puppetry. Some might say I’m back where I started, but I resemble that remark.

In between the above years, my favorite ventriloquist was the long-lived (1896-1999) Senor Wences, who appeared many times on the Ed Sullivan TV show in the 1950s-60s. Here is a clip from one of those appearances:

Others you old-timers may recall include Shari Lewis (Lamb Chop), Jimmy Nelson (Farfel the Dog) and Paul Winchell (Jerry Mahoney)….and did you know that the great comedic actor and Andy Griffith sidekick, Don Knotts, began his career with a ventriloquist act? In an interview, Knotts told of how, while in the service on a ship during WW II, he got tired of playing straight man to a hunk of wood and tossed his dummy, Danny “Hooch” Matador, overboard. Knotts swore he could hear the dummy calling for help as the ship sailed on.

When did ventriloquism start, you ask? For the answer to this and other fascinating trivia, go to:

I close with a poem which, as Senor Wences might say, was easy to type on paper but deefeecult to adapt to e-form:


Though he has connections,
His mind seems detached.
He wants to do something
With no s…………..
———–atta ———
———— c ———–
———— h ———–
———- e  d ———-



  1. arekhill1 says:

    How about the current king of the ventriloquists, Jeff Dunham? Yeah, he doesn’t move his lips much, but he doesn’t make me laugh much, either.


  2. mistermuse says:

    From what little I’ve seen of Dunham, I’d have to agree with you, Ricardo. I’ll take the old-timers any day: Bergen for being funny (despite moving his lips, which he turned to his advantage by having his dummy make fun of it), and Senor Wences for not only being funny, but multi-talented (as evidenced by the film clip in the above post).


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