A Frank Marshall Ventriloquist Figure Made for Nate Proval


It has been quite a while since I have shown a Frank Marshall figure to the Ventriloquist Central public so today I am rectifying that by premiering this superb example.

This Frank Marshall creation was made back in the early 1930’s for a Ventriloquist named Nate Proval and he went by the name of the Golden Bird. You see his speciality was whistling and since he was also a ventriloquist his figure had to have this feature.

This figure has a good history as it went from Nate Proval to a ventriloquist in Hawaii. Unfortunately I never was able to get that owners name but from that owner it went to puppeteer and ventriloquist Steve Meltzer and literally just before my friend Steve passed away he wanted his Marshall figure to join the Ventriloquist Central Collection.

So here he now resides. When he came to me he was in need of a bit of work. The upper and lower lips were torn (leather) and some of the controls were not working properly. All of that has been fixed and he now is a great looking fellow.

This figure stands 40″ tall and has the head stick which goes to the bottom board. His head has 360 degree rotation. You can actually spin his head on his axsis . He has side moving self centering eyes, the left eye winks, both eyes blink (both of these functions are the rolling eye style), he has slot jaw and whistling effect.

There is also a tube which was installed into the lower palate, I presume for a spitter, but was never completed. I showed a picture of this. This was a very loaded figure for this early in Frank Marshall’s career. Also all of the functions were done with ring pull. There are no levers and never were. Proof that ventriloquists did use this style of function.

Click here to see this rare and superb Frank Marshall figure.

If you have any information on Nate Proval please let us know.




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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4 Responses to A Frank Marshall Ventriloquist Figure Made for Nate Proval

  1. Bob Isaacson says:


  2. Lee Dean says:

    I can’t tell how he did the puckering lips. My guess is flat tin springs inserted in each side of wooden lips at the pucker juncture, maybe the kid leather also covering all or that part of lips that form the pucker, or if used some hard rubber with just enough give to it to make the slight movement then realign in place. I’ve never seen one up close and would have to so as to understand, know for sure. If I were doing it would use the springy tins lined with the leather.

  3. Lee Dean says:

    Or maybe four guitar E string clips with O part imbedded.

  4. Leigh Basthemer says:

    What a wonderful figure, I did not realize he did leather upper and lower lips on some of his figures. This would be great when using the whistling effect. I must review the vent central Marshall collection again. As always I really enjoy keeping atuned to your informative and entertaining site. Keep up the great work, carry on.

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