A few weeks ago I did a blog about the great manipulation and controls of the Jerry Mahoney figure by master ventriloquist Paul Winchell. I had my own thoughts on how he accomplished his manipulation but I was not quite correct (click here to see the blog).
My good friend Jerry Layne has supplied the correct information on both the manipulation and the controls for Paul Winchell’s “Jerry.” He was even so kind as to include for us pictures of Mr Winchell’s head stick showing the placement of the controls. Man, Paul was genious.
Hope you get these pictures. I think this is the secret to how Winchell worked or gave the impression of the eyes moving, while controling the winkers.
He held the stick with three fingers. He worked the mouth with his index finger (in the front of he stick). The eyes (left to right) AND closing eyes (both on the left side of the stick) with his thumb. In these pictures (my hand), the thumb is near or on the eye control. Just above the eye control is a small brass box, with a brass lever extended. This is the closing lids control (both lids together). In the center of the box was a slight nitch, under which the lever could easily be locked into position, holding the eyelids at a half closed position. Then he could go back to the eye control, and still move them left and right, while the lids were half closed. Giving the impression that the eyes were moving, while the lids were in motion. If the lids were closed completely, he didn’t need to use the eye control. Once he released the winker control from the nitch, they opened all the way. Of course, Winch was a brilliant manipulator, kept “Jerry” moving, and alive. So, the illusion was both eyes and lids were moving at the same time.
Also, though “Jerry” didn’t have self-centering eyes, Winch had a tack or screw imbedded into the control stick, in line with where the eye lever would be when the eyes were centered. When he felt the tack and the lever at the same time with his thumb, he knew the eyes were centered.
Pretty clever this Winchell…..and an amazing craftsman!
Hope this gives you the answer you were looking for.
Jerry I want to thank you for sending this in to me and allowing me to share this information with all my readers here at Ventriloquist Central
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 2011 by Dan Willinger
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