McGarva & Major

Thank you to Ian McGarva for adopting Major Johnny Jordan at the 2017 convention. Made by Olga & Martin Stevens (charter members of the Puppeteers of America) in 1943, Major Johnny Jordan was used by Tommy Windsor, who sold the dummy to Vent Haven founder W.S. Berger in the summer of 1959. According to documentation provided by Windsor, this dummy is "...completely original based on contract specifications." In 1985, Major Johnny Jordan fell from his spot on the bleachers in the garage building. He was repaired by Jeff Dunham.

Thanks to Nina Dees!

Thank you to Nina Dees for adopting Taka-Chan. Japanese ventriloquist Megumi Takahashi used this beautiful dummy for about 20 years and donated it to Vent Haven on April 28, 2002. Taka-Chan was made in 1980-1. The dummy was made by Masatoshi Mizguchi and has winking & blinking eyes, as well as moving eyes and eyebrows. Megumi bought this figure from Reverand Ichiro Noda. The kimono was made by an authentic kimono maker and it has the Takahashi crest. Visitors can see Taka-Chan on display in the original garage building. Thanks for adopting this great piece, Nina!

Trish knows Mose

Thanks to Trish Dunn for adopting Mose at last year's convention. Mose is a papier mache figure made by W.H.J. Shaw and used by ventriloquist Paul Barth and his brother Albert Barth. Mose was donated to Vent Haven on July 5, 1987. In the accompanying documentation, Barth stated that the dummy was made around 1895. He also added that Albert had used the dummy for about 25 years and then retired. Paul used Mose for 10 years after Albert retired. Today, visitors to Vent Haven can see Mose in the Josephine Berger Memorial Building.

Fun with alliteration: Jesse & Jerry Jay!

Many thanks to Jesse Smith for adopting Jerry Jay! This dummy in his sparkling silver beaded jacket was donated to Vent Haven on May 17, 2006, by Dick Kay, father of ventriloquist Steve Kay (1954-2006). Jerry Jay was made by Craig Lovik and has winking and blinking eyes, moving eyebrows, and moving eyes. Jerry Jay also has a second body. This dummy didn't arrive alone; it was part of a massive donation which included two full large trunks and nine cases of additional items and ephemera. Among the items were a soft figure, two toy puppets, two novelty puppets, four complete cloth and latex puppets from the Stu Scott estate that Steve Kay had owned, lots of dummy clothes, and two custom ca

Chris callin' it Quitz

Thanks to Chris Donahoe for adopting Quitz. This dummy stands four feet tall and is a walking figure. It was made by Ken Spencer around 1930. Spencer performed with it around 1935. Spencer states in a letter dated 5/30/1962 that this dummy was the first walking dummy he made. Eventually, Spencer sold the dummy to Lawrence Emil Gerde. Mr. Gerde was in the real estate and insurance business in addition to being a magician and ventriloquist. Gerde's widow, Veryl, sold the dummy to Mr. Berger in August of 1953 for $35.

Charlie & Lester

Charlie Tomlinson adopted a Lester doll at the 2017 convention. Thanks to Charlie for supporting our capital funds campaign! This doll was manufactured by Goldberger Doll Manufacturing Company around 1973 as a toy version of famed ventriloquist Willie Tyler's character "Lester." Tourists always recognize Willie Tyler and Lester. Willie has had such a phenomenal career and he is still performing. He joined the Vent Haven Board of Advisors a few years ago. You can read more about Willie on his website, willieandlester.com This piece was donated by Russell Elmo Mains in 1990 and is signed by Willie Tyler to Mains. The autograph on the body reads, "To Russ, best wishes to you. Willie Tyler

Jack & Tommy

Today's thanks goes to Jack Stein for adopting Tommy Wood at the 2017 ConVENTion. This gorgeous figure was made by Frank Marshall in 1946 and used by Gordon Kibby, who originally named the dummy Tommy Timber. This figure replaced Kibby's other professional Tommy Timber. Gordon Kibby and W.S. Berger were friends for decades. W.S. nicknamed Gordon, "Gordo" and Gordon nicknamed Mr. Berger, "Bardo." If you email me at curator@venthaven.org and tell me why the nickname "Bardo" makes sense, I'll send you a little gift in the mail. Only the first correct guess gets the gift... Kibby sold this sweet dummy to ventriloquist Earl Gottberg, but bought it back so he could use it on Jiffy Carnival on W

Barb and Walter Ego

Many thanks to Barb Phoenix for adopting sweet little "Walter Ego". This adorable dummy was made by Vent Haven advisor Alan Semok around 1974. Walter Ego was used by Charles Ludlam in a play that he wrote entitled, The Ventriloquist's Wife. The dummy was donated to Vent Haven in 1988 by Ludlam's estate. You can see Walter Ego on display in the main building.

Elana & Maxi

Thank you to Elana Clayman for adopting Maxi! This little dummy was used by Julius Hemm (stage name Carno) and was sold to W.S. Berger by Hemm's widow in 1961 for $75. Maxi has many features: two winkers, moving eyebrows, blinking, a double fright wig, and a saluting right arm. The documentation is unclear about who made the figure, but it was made in Munich and was, "...modeled by a master student of the sculptor Professor Thorak." Additionally, Mrs. Hemm wrote, "My husband did not have this dummy manufactured by a firm, but by private artists and artisans specifically for him and only one is in existence." Visitors can see Maxi in the bleacher room of the main building. Thanks, Elana

Smith & Retro Girl

Thanks to my friend Smith Handerson for adopting Retro Girl. Retro Girl was owned, used, and donated by Carla Rhodes, who also called this dummy, "Victoria." This 50 inch dummy was made by Kristin L. Peterson of Oddballs & Orphans in 1997 based on a cartoon character that Rhodes created. As of the date of donation, this dummy is the only full sized figure produced by Oddballs & Orphans. Carla donated Retro Girl to Vent Haven on July 19, 2014 as part of a segment for CBS Sunday Morning. The show sent correspondent Bill Geist to cover the convention and museum. You can view the entire segment here. Tourists can see Retro Girl on display in the main building. Thanks, Smith!!!

Thanks to David Crone

Many thanks to my friend David Crone for adopting Jay Johnson's first "Squeaky" dummy. This character is a modified Jerry Mahoney doll that was mass produced by Juro Novelty Company. This puppet was modified in the early 1960's and has a custom wig and wardrobe. Jay later replaced this "Squeaky "with a dummy made by Art Sieving. Although Jay appeared on dozens of television shows, tourists at Vent Haven typically remember him from his role as Chuck Campbell on SOAP (1977-1981). Jay also won a Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for his one man show, The Two and Only in 2007. Jay has been a member of the Vent Haven Museum Board of Advisors for decades. He attends our annual ConV

Randall and the Sidekicks

Thanks to Randall Munson for adopting two iconic dummies at last year's convention: Mortimer Snerd and Knucklehead Smiff. Both of these dummies are nonworking replicas of the dummies used by Edgar Bergen and Paul Winchell, respectively. Although Charlie McCarthy was Edgar Bergen's primary character, Mortimer Snerd's sweet bumpkin personality won him his own fan base. Snerd was in several of Bergen's films, including Stage Door Canteen and Fun and Fancy Free. One of the performances that shows the sweet simplicity and charm of Mortimer's character is from The Tonight Show in 1977, which you can see here. In the same way that Snerd was primarily known as Bergen's second most popular characte

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