Bodies, Arms and Legs of Vintage Ventriloquist Figures

I get quite a few emails asking me about the bodies arms and legs of vintage or “antique” ventriloquist figures.

The height of a full size ventriloquist figure is anywhere from thirty six inches tall to forty four inches tall. The average comes in at forty inches. Now this is just a general rule of thumb. I have found that on some of the antique figures that the legs are attached at the front of the body and will make the figure the larger size. Then I also have found that the legs are attached at the middle or back of the body and this will make them shorter, of course in length.

Also the size of the figure can be made either larger or smaller because of the size of the body. Most of the full size figures will fit a size 4T suit but a 3T can be used if the body size is a bit smaller. Also the dwarf style body can also be accomplished by shortening the legs.

The cloth used on antique figures was a generally muslin and the stuffing was generally done with straw. I always found that kind of strange because with time the straw kind of disintegrates and therefore compacts at either the bottom of the arm or leg respectively leaving the top part empty.

This is a very common find and I usually will leave the appendages like this but on a few occasions, where the muslin was torn and stuffing falling out I have replaced same with polyfill. After restuffing I sew the open spots with a heavy duty thread. To me the original muslin is very important even if the stuffing is new.

For some reason the new muslin that you can purchase today is not the same as the old because it is a much finer material as compared to the old. I actually search at yard sales for old muslin just so that I can have original style muslin for replacement.

So these are a few points of interest concerning the original type bodies and arms and legs on the vintage figures.




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:

Copyright 2012 by Dan Willinger

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:

This entry was posted in Dummy Collecting, Ventriloquism/Ventriloquist, Ventriloquist Central, Ventriloquist Figures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bodies, Arms and Legs of Vintage Ventriloquist Figures

  1. P. Grecian says:

    Dan, you might try ordering muslin through a theatrical house. We started using muslin to cover flats back in the sixties because the canvas was being used by the military during the Vietnam war. It was harder to find and more expensive stateside. That’s when we began to substitute, and the muslin we used was pretty heavy duty. The groups I continue to work with don’t use muslin anymore (mostly luan these days), but many do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *