As we all know one of the most famous Ventriloquist figures ever used was Mortimer Snerd. Of course he was used by Edgar Bergen.
What most people do not know is where he came from and for that information we are happy to provide you all with this video of Virginia Austin Curtis, the lady who did the original sculpting of “Elmer”, later renamed Mortimer Snerd.
Virginia also made “Clippo the Clown”. This is a treat if you have never seen it before.
This video supplied by Bob Abdou/Mr.Puppet was retreived from the garbage. When Virginia decided to move, she had to get rid of most of the stuff she collected, when a puppet friend visited Virginia while cleaning up, he noticed that she was throwing out most of her valuables.
Realizing the importance of keeping the Virgina Austin story alive, he found this video in the garbage can and gave a copy to Bob Abdou.
Bob in turn sent it to us so we can share it with the ventriloquism conmunity.
[flashvideo filename=http://vc-videos.s3.amazonaws.com/virginia-curtis/virginia-curtis.flv /]
(Please be patient for the video to download)
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ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL ! WHAT A NICE WAY TO BEGIN MY DAY. SUCH A SWEET AND HUMBLE LADY FOR ALL SHE HAS ACCOMPLISHED AND ALL SHE HAS GIVEN TO THE WORLD OF PUPPETRY AND VENTRILOQUISM.
IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE HOW LITTLE TIME SHE SPENT TALKING ABOUT THE GREATEST VENTRILOQUIST FIGURE OF ALL TIME, MORTIMER SNERD…JUST ANOTHER CHARACTER IN A LIFETIME FILLED WITH MANY CHARACTERS.
THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING US INTO THE WORLD OF THIS CHARMING WOMAN WHO BECAME AN INSTITUTION ALL BY HERSELF WITH CLIPPO THE CLOWN.
Wonderful and inspiring!
Although I never knew of this inspiring lady and her work, I almost feel like I did, once, after seeing this video.
Her activities were exactly the basis for what would constitute my dream life!
Certainly a treat to see how it has been done before!
-Mathieu René, puppet maker and performer,
Wow! What a treat to see and hear a stunningly glamorous Virginia Austin-Curtis perform her famous puppets and narrate her life story! Amazing. also is the footage of her building her “Clippos,” sewing that distinctive polka dot material and casting heads and body parts. It was also an additional treat to see the performers at her theater, along with their names and the titles of their shows clearly credited. Outstanding historical document. Thank you for sharing.
What a wonderful film.
For the amazing ride Virginia was on she seems a humble and generous spirit.
Imagine how many puppeteers thru the centuries have had their very interesting lives and touched so many audiences without anyone to tell their histories.
I am happy to see even back then, the recognition of her achievements, and would not have ever heard of Virginia Austin Curtis if not for this rescued footage.
What a great documentary. Thank You
I am inspired. I am also reminded of the importance of live performance.
AND … freshly squeezed vegetable juice keeps me going too
Recently we moved to Florida, and in my treasures, I found a “clippo clown” puppet. I would like to know more about this wonderful little guy.
I treasure my Clippo , but did not know Virginia’s other work. Delightful how puppeteers
develop over the years. She touched on so much of popular culture. Her artistry was so simple and effective. I love the Jack and the Beanstalk!
This video, called “A Place to Pretend,” was written and produced by Jack Aiken, a cinematography professor at Pasadena City College. Jack’s then-wife Elva worked for Virginia at the Puppet Theater Workshop, assisting with shows and workshops. Jack and Elva are charter members of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.
I have a Clippo the Clown puppet in a blue suit. I received it as a gift from my husband as a Christmas gift in the 1960’s and he’s in perfect condition. I keep him in a wicker basket that is covered. Do not have the box. I was very excited to find this video. In the 70’s I spoke to Virginia about Clippo and told her how I got him, etc. I will nominate Clippo to the Strong National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester that I recently learned about.