I was reading in my early ventriloquism magazines today and in the 1948 Christmas issue of the Grapevine News I found this very nice article about a ventriloquist named Bill Hume. He created his own ventriloquist figures carved out of wood and…….well read the article it is really very nice.
Bill Hume and Rosita
By Ray Roseberry
Bill Hume, IBV 305, commercial artist, semi-pro vent and a resident of Browns Station, Missouri. This is just about the quickest way to introduce the handsome gent pictured above with his popular sharp tongued, Panamanian assistant, Rosita.
Bill spent the war years in the United States Navy, entertaining service men in such countries as Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and coast to coast in the U. S. He has traveled most every way imaginable. Boat, plane, train and car, through jungles and many other out of the way places.
Rosita’s history began in Panama. Lacking time to send to the states for one of his figures, Bill constructed her from wood salvaged from a torpedoed cargo ship, completing the job in three weeks, just in time to try out for a USO sponsored show. Adding the final touch by having a costumer friend of his to design and make the authentic Spanish costumes.
Rosita is equally clever at speaking Spanish as she is English. Having a reputation among service men for an exceptionally sharp tongue, she could make them blush as they had never laughed Before. It seems that a correspondent for Yank, the official Army weekly, wandered into a Panamanian night spot and overheard Bill and Rosita in the following conversation:
“Have you ever been in the U.S.?” asked her sailor date.
“I was made in Panama”, she replied, narrowing her deep black eyes.
“You mean you were born in Panama”, corrected the sailor.
“Brother, you don’t know Panama”, cracked Rosita, displaying a slick shaft.
This type of conversation kept up for ten minutes. Finally the sailor got up and left, carrying Rosita unceremoniously under one arm while everyone stamped and cheered.
Bill built his first dummy at the ripe old age of 13, later building four other figures before introducing Rosita, who has proved to be the most popular. Her eyes will move in any direction and the mouth action is of Bill’s own design. In the construction he has employed what he likes to call “loose mechanics”. There are no springs that can wear out or need replacing. This was brought about by the necessity of having a perfect working figure without the danger of breakdowns while traveling in the jungles and other isolated places where repair would be impossible.
When he isn’t busy at commercial and magazine art, advertising and scenery design, he manages to keep carving, all the time trying to get that “certain something” in a girl figure that no other vent will have, and by all indications he will succeed. Needless to say Mr. Hume’s figures are not for sale, nor are any of those he has made in the past for sale. Although in the author’s opinion it’s a pity that such talent and workmanship as this is not available to the professional vent. But that is what it takes to be original, and Rosita is by no means lacking in originality. At one time he was a professional vent, but now devotes his time to art, but does vent in a semi-professional capacity.
So all in all, the 32 year old gentleman is a very busy man, and in all probability will be for some time to come. It’s a privilege to have the talented Bill Hume among us-don’t you think?
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 2008 by Dan Willinger
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