I was contacted very recently and asked if I had ever seen this picture of a young Edgar Bergen and his partner Charlie McCarthy. I had to tell him that in fact it was the first time I had ever seen the picture.
It is a great one because it appears this is the Charlie that Bergen used in the movie Charlie McCarthy Detective, which showed him with moving eyes. We all know Mr Bergen only used mouth movement in his regular club engagements but clearly you can see the controls on the head stick showing the controls for both the mouth and the eyes.
The control lever for the mouth is the Mack paddle style lever also clearly visible is the leather under the chin. You also see the flat bottom neck on the original style Mack or Marshall figures.
I love seeing the Mack shaped shoulder board on the body and also what hits me strange is the metal front on the body. I am sure it was done to give the body a stable shape.
What I also like is that you can see that Charlie, in this picture, still has the detective cap on his head. Very cool!!
I hope you enjoyed seeing this great picture!!
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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
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Look at the size of that control post. No way is the head top heavy.
I was also immediately struck by the size of the control post. It must be 2 inches in diameter.
Thanks for sharing this great picture!
That shot adds all kinds of heretofore unknown information for me. Yes, the post is very thick. Wonder if that was done to cut down on cramping in Bergen’s hand (?). Also, Charlie’s not wearing his monocle, and it seems to me he did wear it in this film…though I haven’t seen it in twenty five years or so. If my memory is correct, then the monocle was easily removeable? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a metal body front. It would be more stable than some of the more open body fronts, and perhaps necessary for the weight of the head and post, but that’s just a guess. Thanks, Dan! Great photo!
The hat Charlie is wearing appears to be his newsboy “skimmer” cap, not the detective cap.
Pete,I am going to agree with Dan, if you blow up the shot you will see it is a checkered hat with a rather long brim. More like the detective than the newsboy and you can’t see the back to see the other side, but maybe you are right. But it is the figure used for the movie because the eyes move. That is a dead give away as to the hat. Phil I too thought it was unusual that he was not wearing the monacle. Hey taking this peek into the past is fun isn’t it? Thanks Dan for providing these great insights into the past. Keep up the good work!!
Bergen also used the Charlie figure with the moving eyes in the early Vitaphone shorts. There was a Charlie figure that had the eyes roll up as well. I don’t know if it was the same early figure or not.