Everyone in the ventriloquist community knows who Ray Guyll is….today’s master figure builder. Well he of course had to start somewhere and that was back in the late 1960’s when he was influenced by Jack Coats. Ray decided to build figures and did them first out of wood but then decided to try his hand at casting and the results were truly spectacular.
The ventriloquist figure which you will view today is the very first figure which Ray created using Fiberglass. He was contacted by female ventriloquist Evie Van Buskirk (then wife of ventriloquist Paul Van Buskirk) to create a Marshall style girl figure for herself and also a boy figure for her protege Tommy Pretto. Tommy was at the time somewhere around 12 years old.
Evie Van Buskirk did the sketches of the girl and boy for Ray Guyll to go by for creation of the two figures. Ray had to sculpt the heads in clay get them approved and then go on to creating the final completed figures.
Ray was scheduled as the first Lecturer at the 1975 Vent Haven Convention and when people walked into the lecture hall these two figures were proudly seated on stage for everyone to see including the new owners Tommy Pretto and Evie Van Buskirk. After the lecture the figures were delivered to them both.
According to Ray the figure for Tommy was his first Fiberglass creation and Evie’s girl was the second. Ray did make 2 more of this fellow but after that the mold was destroyed making this figure and the other two a very rare find. This figure sold at that time for the princely sum of $700.00.
This figure is a wonderful example of Ray’s genius and it was done in a McElroy style ( Ray Loves the Brother’s work) having a modified McElroy style body and McElroy hands. The head is equipped with the following functions: Slot jaw, side to side self centering eyes, raising eye brows, stick out tongue, winkers/blinkers, spitter and hand shaker. All in all just a wonderful ventriloquist figure.
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 2009 by Dan Willinger
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