Here’s another installment as told by RJ about ventriloquist figure maker, Ken Spencer.
Ventriloquist Figure Maker, Ken Spencer as Told by RJ, Part 3
Well, after reading up about Ken Spencer, and getting his standard packet of literature in reply, which was voluminous, AND discovering just who he was, I found myself a little intimidated – BUT not enough to stop writing to him, which I did regularly. My first ”professional” script came from him, and it was followed by five or six others.
You’ve got to understand that these scripts were NOT cheap– I believe they started at $15 apiece! Big money for a twelve-year-old in 1962! BUT– They were guaranteed by the great man himself, and that was good enough for me. I DID use them all to great effect, [although I had to update several references to this or that, as they were hopelessly out-of-date.] Only years later did I realize that they were scripts straight out of the absolute heyday of vaudeville, [which also was the zenith of ventriloquism on stage in America.]
As I understood it from Ken, some of the ”bits” were authored by him, some were in the public domain, some handed-down by earlier ventriloquists to him. I just knew that they were funny. Not only that, they ALL had a feeling of ”innocence” about them, long–since ”Gone with the Wind” in America. Sooo, after my comfort level rose high enough, AND after studying everything about his Figure–carving business probably for a year, I summoned enough courage to actually PHONE HIM!
When he answered, I almost slammed the receiver down in fear, but somehow, hung on, and introduced myself. Amazingly, he not only remembered ME, but he also took – up our conversation by mail as if it had happened yesterday and in person. He was very soft-spoken, and made you feel immediately comfortable. On top of that, he did not talk down to me as being just an obnoxious kid, as he probably had a right to. No, he spoke to me as an adult, listening, answering all my questions, just being real.
My main purpose in calling was to ask for further literature about his figures, to try and see if their was ANY WAY IN HELL that I, as a boy, could come up with enough money to purchase one of his ”PROFESSIONAL, HAND-CARVED FIGURES” in my LIFETIME! The required money I had read quoted so far, ”STARTING AT $450,” was ridiculously expensive to even contemplate bringing up to my parents. You have got to understand that, in those years, I LIVED, and BREATHED EVERYTHING Ventriloquism, but these were ADULT prices, WAY beyond my ”kid” world……
To be continued RJL
If you’ve missed the previous versions, click below:
I hope you enjoy these as much as I am.
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 2010 by Dan Willinger
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