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  • mistermuse 9:43 pm on July 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Candice Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen, , I've Got No Strings, KNOCK WOOD, , , ,   


    You think your brother or sister is a dummy? You got nothing on Candice Bergen.

    You’ll recall from my last post that in the 1940s, I was a big boyhood fan of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his wooden alter ego, Charlie McCarthy. Not long after the end of World War II, Mrs. Bergen gave birth (May 9, 1946) to a daughter, Candice, who grew up to become a leading-light in her own right. In her fine 1984 autobiography, KNOCK WOOD, Candice wrote:

    When I was born, it was only natural that I would be known in the press as “Charlie’s sister.” “Charlie’s room”  was redecorated and renamed “the nursery.” And even though at my birth, he was simply moved to the guest room, next to the nursery, soon everyone again began referring to “Charlie’s room.” The sibling rivalry thus established was certainly unique, considering I was the only child and the sibling was, in truth, my father.

    Quoting from the book’s dust cover: Christmas was a visit from David Niven in the role of Santa, and a present from “Uncle Walt” Disney, the neighborhood was the Barrymore estate that bordered her yard….and because she was the daughter of Edgar Bergen, radio’s greatest dignitary/comedian, her “sibling” was Charlie McCarthy, the impudent dummy beloved of millions, vaguely resented by one little girl whose father was the center of her universe.

    KNOCK WOOD is the candid story of a celebrity’s daughter growing up in a unique environment, and I recommend it highly. It is full of anecdotes and “name-dropping,” including the likes of W. C. Fields, Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and the aforementioned Walt Disney. Fields, as you old-time radio buffs know, carried on a famous “feud” with Charlie McCarthy, primarily on The Chase and Sanborn Hour starring Edgar Bergen. Here’s a typical example :


    To appropriately wrap up the subjects covered in this and the previous post, let’s go with I’ve Got No Strings from Walt Disney’s 1940 acclaimed animated feature, PINOCCHIO:







    • rielyn 7:31 pm on August 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad you liked the book, Dad. Was there anything about her life during “Murphy Brown”? That’s what I know her from.


    • mistermuse 10:07 pm on August 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      The “Murphy Brown” series began in 1988 – four years after the book was published. Oddly enough, I never watched a single program of her TV series, but then (with several exceptions), I’ve never been a big TV sitcom fan. I really enjoyed the book, which is very well written.


  • mistermuse 1:24 pm on July 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Charlie McCarthy, Don Knotts, dummies, Edgar Berben, , Jim Henson, Muppets, puppets, , Senor Wences, ventriloquists   


    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 ———-

    • arekhill1 10:21 am on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      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.


    • mistermuse 12:02 pm on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      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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