Rain and Uncle Johnny

Many thanks to my friend Rain Jennings for adopting Uncle Johnny. This dummy was used and donated by the lovely and talented (and Vent Haven Advisor) Lynn Trefzger. Uncle Johnny was made by John Arvites. At the 1982 Vent Haven ConVENTion, Lynn won "Most Deserving Young Vent" and this dummy was the prize. Lynn donated Uncle Johnny to Vent Haven on July 19, 2004. You can see Uncle Johnny in the W.S. Berger Memorial Building.

Cookie Jensen & Willie Nibs

Thanks to Cookie Jensen for adopting Willie Nibs. Willie was made by George "Pinxy" Larsen and belonged to ventriloquist and magician Nick Tomei. This figure was Nick's second dummy of at least four that he reported to Vent Haven founder, W.S. Berger. Here is Nick's account of Willie Nibs in a letter to Mr. Berger dated February 10, 1957... "I've been interested in vent for many years but I never really had the time to practice like a good vent should. I had a very old dummy and it wasn't very interesting; it was made out of paper. In 1942 I decided to get myself a new dummy and really take up vent work seriously. The Pinxys sold me a new dummy, that is, I had it made. I took it home

Thanks to Barney!

Today's thanks goes to Barney Piercy for adopting Stanley at the 2017 ConVENTion. This dummy was made and donated by Nicholas Wing of Shepherd, Michigan. Nick donated the dummy at the 2015 Vent Haven ConVENTion and said it was the first complete figure he made. Stanley is on display in the main building at Vent Haven. Thanks, Barney, for adopting this great dummy!

Thanks to Preston!

Thanks to my friend Preston Fernanez who adopted two dummies last year: Coach and Alfaro boy. Coach was made by Barry Gordemer of Handemonium around 2000. This soft puppet's first owner was Tyler Ellis, who had it custom made as a look-alike figure. Tyler called him, "Taylor". After a couple of years, he sold it to Bruce Beyer. Bruce donated the puppet, which he renamed, "Coach", in 2002. Bruce donated it in honor of his parents, David and Evelyn Beyer. The puppet has winking and blinking mechanisms as well as moving eyebrows. Alfaro boy was donated as a new figure from Albert Alfaro of Imaginarium Galleries, Inc., at the 2004 Vent Haven ConVENTion. It has moving eyebrows and moving ey

Three monkeys and a Texaco Danny

Today's post is all about monkeys. And a Texaco Danny O'Day doll... Visitors to Vent Haven love demonstrations. Even more so, they love being able to handle a puppet. These great monkeys have been used for tourist engagement. First, thanks to Michele Abshire for donating this first little guy. Verna Finly made this cute monkey and it was donated by Geri Harrington in 1980. Although they didn't get to handle it, this sweet puppet was demonstrated to tourists for about 13 years. In 2011, Steve Axtell donated one of his Cheeky Monkey characters to replace the second Finly monkey. This is the current demonstration piece and hundreds of tourists have tried their hand at ventriloquism with t

Peter and the Ukulele

My friend Peter Dzubay adopted a cool novelty dummy at the 2017 convention...a ukulele! Mr. Berger bought at least three of these from L. Davenport & Co., a London company that manufactured and sold magical apparatus, novelties, tricks, and some vent dummies. Mr. Berger's relationship with Davenport began in 1932 and continued steadily until 1971. He ordered dozens of dummies, as well as pocket figures, Toby Jugs, parrots, and ukuleles. Throughout the 1940's and 50's, Mr. Berger purchased dummies and heads for resale to vents across the U.S. Mr. Berger ordered his first ukulele on February 25, 1957. It was listed in the Davenport catalog as, "Ukulele changes to Vent". He paid the equiv

Thanks to Sheree Brown-Rosner!

Thanks, Sheree, for adopting Willie Talk at last year's convention. This little dummy was made by George and Glenn McElroy of Harrison, Ohio. It has moving eyes and eyebrows, two spitting mechanisms, and a moving upper lip mechanism. Willie Talk was primarily used by Lt. Lee Allen Estes, a Kentucky state trooper who used magic and ventriloquism to educate students about safety. Mr. Berger owned it before Estes and bought it back from Estes' son Ted after Lee Allen died. Willie Talk is one of ten McElroy dummies here at Vent Haven.

Jumping right in!

For those of you who have never been to our annual convention, first time attendees get a red dot on their convention badges. All the other conventioneers do everything they can to make "red dotters" feel welcome, to help them with schedule details, and to give them tips for making the most of the convention. My thanks today goes to Tommy Manzie, a 2017 "red dotter." Thanks, Tommy, for jumping right in and getting directly involved with supporting Vent Haven by adopting a dummy! Tommy adopted a cute little Howdy Doody toy. Mr. Berger bought this toy in 1963 from Violet Gunther, who was the owner of Choice Antiques in Erie, Pennsylvania. This toy was made by Ideal Toy Company and is oper

Bob Mager & Benny the Bear

Thanks to Bob Mager for adopting Benny the Bear. Benny was made by Oscar Richards of Riverside, California, for Mr. Berger and arrived at Vent Haven in April of 1956. The original plan was that Richards would sell a bear head that he already owned to Mr. Berger, but over several letters and almost a year of correspondence, Mr. Berger decided he wanted a full bear, so this one was made from scratch. Mr. Berger paid $65 for the dummy. Benny has moving eyes and a tongue made of sponge rubber. The fur is from a second hand coat that Richards had. Inside the body, the head is positioned with a leather strap. Benny gets a lot of attention from tourists and he sits on exhibit in the main garage

Eileen and the large kangaroo

Thank you to Eileen Mager for adopting the large kangaroo. Frank Marshall made this great dummy, as well as two other kangaroos (one of which is a joey), for famed ventriloquist Clifford Guest. Guest used the kangaroos on The Ed Sullivan Show and a couple of other dates. Guest then left the kangaroos at Frank Marshall's studio. Frank told Guest he should sell them all to Mr. Berger. In one letter, Clifford states that "...one hasn't been used at all." From additional notes, it appears likely that the unused kangaroo is this one. This special dummy has a winker and moving wooden eyes. Mr. Berger got all three kangaroos in 1958. You can see them on display in the W.S. Berger Memorial Bu

Thanks to Carson Scott!

Ditty Talk Hawkins was adopted by Carson Scott. Thanks, Carson, for choosing this amazing dummy! Ditty Talk Hawkins is one among four dummies sold to W.S. Berger in 1967 by Ted Estes, son of Lt. Lee Allen Estes. Lt. Estes was a Kentucky State Trooper who used magic and ventriloquism to educate children in school safety shows. He died of a heart attack on January 28, 1967, at the age of 53. His son contacted Mr. Berger about Lee's dummies in February of that year. After having worked out a plan for Estes to bring the dummies to Vent Haven for Mr. Berger to inspect and likely buy, Mr. Berger's wife died on April 3rd. Mr. Berger was so distraught that he cancelled the visit and the purcha

Jeremy and Johnny

Thanks to Jeremy Lepak for adopting Johnny. Made by George and Glenn McElroy of Harrison, Ohio, Johnny was used by ventriloquist and magician George Pullin. Mr. Pullin gave Johnny to Mr. Berger in exchange for an Insull figure and $25. Johnny joined the Vent Haven collection on August 23, 1951. Johnny's features are many: winking, moving eyebrows, a light up nose, a stick out tongue, a moving upper lip, and moving eyes to name just some. He arrived in a McElroy case with the original directions from the McElroy brothers about how to change the light bulb and batteries in the head. This figure has been repaired twice; once by Frank Marshall and once by Cecil Gough. George Pullin was quit

Scott and the Two Faced Dummy

Scott Bryte adopted the Spencer double faced dummy at convention. This interesting piece has a great backstory. Ken Spencer made this dummy, which has two mechanisms, for Vent Haven founder W.S. Berger in the spring of 1951. Beginning in 1948, Mr. Berger was interested in Spencer's unique set of dummies, The Rubeville Five. One of the dummies has two faces. When he asked Spencer to make him a similar dummy, Spencer said he would for $35. About four months went by before W.S. replied that $55 was too expensive. Spencer didn't correct W.S. about the error. In January of 1951, W.S. changed his mind and said he would pay the $55. Ken countered and said he'd make the dummy for $55 *and* $5

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