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Doug and Elmer

Thanks to Doug Morrison for adopting Elmer Sneezewood. The Elmer on display at Vent Haven is a backup of the dummy used by actor Max Terhune (1891-1973) in many B-westerns in the 1930's & 1940's. The Elmer that Terhune actually used in the movies is housed in the Autry Museum of the American West.

Max Terhune was a good friend with Vent Haven's founder, W.S. Berger, and they corresponded frequently beginning in 1937.

Just last year, Max Terhune's grandson, Tracy Terhune, took the time to write the extensive history of the two Elmers. Here, in part, is the story from Tracy:

So the story of your Elmer (Elmer's double)... My grandfather originally had a figure named Skully who looked like the later Elmer, but with short nappy hair. He told me he was visiting some family and he was in a suitcase tied to the roof of the car, and they went in to visit, and later said "Lets bring in the suitcases" and went out to see the one tied to the top of the car, had been stolen. I believe this to be in 1932. He then ordered a replacement Skully. He kept that name for him until 1936 when he went under contract at Republic Studios. The studios thought the name "Skully" was too morbid and didn't reflect the wise-cracking "fun" they wanted the figure to project in the films. Either the studio or my grandfather came up with the name "Elmer' and that is what he used the rest of his life. In several of these western films, he had to use Elmer while riding a horse, once he was called to toss Elmer in some bushes to hide him. Apparently the studio agreed to have a "double" made of Elmer for those kind of scenes and only use Elmer for the close-up talking scenes....Now the interesting part - apparently my grandfather liked the body on the new figure better than the original one, so he switched bodies. This is how I was able to determine when the Elmer double was created, because prior to that, the only body he had was the original one, and then it was switched. So what you now have is the head is Elmer's double and the body is the original Elmer body.

Elmer was made by Frank Marshall and was donated to Vent Haven by Stu Scott in 1982. Visitors can see Elmer on display in the W.S. Berger Memorial Building.

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