A Very Nice Memorial From Steve and JET of The Dummy Shoppe

thedummyshoppe puppets by JET

Yesterday (Friday, July 11th) Steve and JET of The Dummy Shoppe posted a very nice memorial on their blog. I wanted to share it with our readers today.

In Loving Memory…

This week we wish we could come to you with the funny and happy news of the art of Ventriloquism. Instead we are forced to bring you the news of the passing of our good friend and the wife of Dan Willinger, Mrs. Helen Willinger.

For those who don’t know our mutual history, the first time we went to Vent Haven in 2006, we arrived a day and a half before anything started. Once we checked into The Drawbridge Inn, we decided to take a stroll and get a feel for “the lay of the land”.

As we walked down the main hall of the Drawbridge, as luck would have it, we found ourselves walking next to a nice gentleman. Sometimes in this life you meet someone and there just seems to be an instant connection and friendship. It happened that day. In the Vent world we were just “nobodys” and this nice man (at that time) was also just a nobody. He told us that he was just a collector of Vent Figures and that he was not a Ventriloquist. He said that his name was Dan Willinger.

Shortly after this first meeting, we were privileged to meet his wife. JET and Helen also hit it off instantly. Helen was full of life and was great fun to be around. At the time, JET was still only doing latex puppets which were quite simply not the greatest, but JET had a passion for making puppets. Helen stayed very close to JET for the entire time of the show, and was always encouraging when JET got down because her puppets were not well received that year.

For the next 4 days, the four of us were together almost constantly, whether we were in the Dealers Rooms or in a class or watching performances. My personal favorites were meal times. The four of us had much in common and just completely enjoyed each others company.

Dan did sneak off several times for some clandestine meetings with some guy, who we later discovered was “Steve Hurst”. The two of them were scheming on the creation of some “super site” on the internet. Little did we know at that time, and I don’t think Dan or Steve really knew either, that little thing that they were planning would become the biggest site on the web for Ventriloquists to gather information. It was http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com/

Anyway, that was the beginning of our friendship and it has lasted for many years. If I called Dan, I would tell him to say hi to my girl friend (Helen) and he in turn would respond in kind about JET.

About 3 weeks ago, I had reason to send Dan an email with a question. In his response he told me that Helen was very sick and was in the hospital. The prospects for her recovery seemed good at that time, so we were not very concerned initially.

Last week we received an email from Steve Hurst (who is Dan’s partner in Ventriloquist Central and for the last five years has also been our web master here at The Dummy Shoppe).

In Steve’s note, he simply said that Helen had passed away a couple of hours before.

We were stunned and our hearts broke for Dan and their son Jason.

For those of you who have not yet heard, Helens funeral was last Sunday and she will be greatly missed and never forgotten by all those who knew her.

Go in peace Helen Willinger 1944-2013

That’s all for now folks,

Steve and JET

Thanks, Steve and JET for those kind words and thoughts.



Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan 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. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2013 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst

NOTE: You may use this blog article provided you run it with the bio box intact. Please email a copy of your publication with the blog article in it to: webmaster@ventriloquistcentral.com

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2 Responses to A Very Nice Memorial From Steve and JET of The Dummy Shoppe

  1. P. Grecian says:

    I wish I could have known her, Dan. From everything I’m hearing now, I really, really missed something. Again, my sympathies, my friend.

  2. Bill Smith says:


    I just hopped on here for the first time in a while & saw this sad news. I am so very sorry about your loss. Always remember all the good times you shared, which I’m sure were too numerous to count. All my best.

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