I had a great email last week from Bernie Kallman. He is the previous owner of the Marshall/McElroy figure now in the Ventriloquist Central Collection.
He was pleasantly surprised when he saw the video of me showing Dizzy Dugan and the interior mechanics. He thought it was great.
He told me of some of his ventriloquile experiences and I thought it was so interesting that I asked him to write it up in his own words and I would put it up on the blog. So here is Bernie’s story…..
“Born: Chicago, Ill moved to Menasha, Wi around 1945 Married/Wife Cheryl /Saw Bob Neller for the first time in Appleton, Wi at a Synogog show around 1950. I was so impressed with what I saw that my Aunt got me a Jerry Mahoney dummy with a small instruction booklet…..I put my first performance on for a school show when I was about ll years old. After that I started doing birthday parties. Somehow my family got in touch with Bob Neller who lived in the next town and he agreed to sell me his old Frank Marshall dummy that he no longer was using for $75.00. About a year later he tried to trade the dummies body for another one but I decided that I was happy with the one I already had. When I was about14 years old I appeared twice on a local TV station WTMJ called the Wisconsin House Party and from that was invited to appear in a Parade in the city of Oconomowoc, Wi. When I was 15years old I visited family in Los Angeles and while there I decided to look up the Great Lester who lived in a seedy upper apartment in downtown L.A. . He must have been in his 80’s. He was very friendly and spent a couple of hours giving me pointers. I also asked my cousin to drive me to the home of Edger Bergen where his daughter offered to take me in the house to met her famous father……stupidly I begged off mentioning that I would like to come back with my dummy that I had forgotton to bring with me….I left my name and phone number so Mr. Bergen could call me to set up another meeting… sadly I never got that call back.
I moved to Los Angeles around 1960 for 10 years……I did get an offer from a writer to appear in shows that he would set up for me but I sadly turned him down and always wonder how my life would have changed……Currently I am semi-retired where I manage about 12 commercial buildings and collect antiques.”
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are 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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