Wednesday was Peter Rich’s birthday…Happy Belated Birthday, Peter. I know I speak for the ventriloquist community in saying that we hope you have many more.
As a tribute to Peter’s birthday, I found this great little article that Peter wrote for the May-June 1955 issue of the Oracle entitled, “The Great Lester Vs. Marshall The Great.”
The Great Lester Vs. Marshall The Great
By PETER RICH
Translating the title to The Great Ventriloquist versus The Great Dummy-Maker might clarify the meaning a little but not much. The title of this piece was arrived at in the following manner.
This working ventriloquist was booked in Phoenix, Arizona, early in January and between departure from my home in Hagerstown, Maryland, and the engagement, I was grounded for twenty-four hours in Chicago, of all places. Frank Marshall invited me over to his place during the layover, the first real treat of 1955.
Instead of going out for a meal he made me a steak that took the edge off the disrupted flying schedule. Throughout the meal and until we had to close our eyes to sleep we talked shop pausing long enough to watch Senor Wences on a TV show. Frank arranges everything-even a ventriloquist on TV.
Then he brought out the tape recorder. He and his old buddy The Great Lester send each other spoken letters on tape and what intriguing letters! Each tape lasts about three hours long. Frank records messages from vents going through Chicago- or records vent acts from TV or radio, shows that The Great Lester might miss In his busy schedule out in California. Then The Great Lester comments on the tapes on his return letter-tape.
For those of you who haven’t heard The Grand Old Man of Ventriloquism you might be interested to know that even in his late seventies he still retains a deep Orson Wells type of voice-very youthful, alert, and infectious and even in straight talk indicates a wry sense of humor. That’s where the “versus” in the title cropped up. He and Frank are such good friends that they kibitz in such a way that an outsider might think a feud exists.
Someday I hope to meet The Great Lester and share in his enthusiasm for the other half of the team, Frank Marshall. Thanks, Frank, for being the very gracious host and when you see your long time pal please don’t let the friendly sparks fly or you’ll burn the wooden dummies that all ventriloquists cherish.
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. His collection of ventriloquist figures now numbers over 100 figures of which there are over 50 Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2009 by Dan Willinger
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