Frank Marshall The Ventriloquist?

Bill Smith posed a great question and that was did Frank Marshall ever perform ventriloquism.

We all know that he made wonderful ventriloquist figures but I could not give a definitive answer as to him ever performing.

I have seen many pictures of Frank attending ventriloquist gatherings but it seems nothing is mentioned anywhere about him ever performing.

Maybe Bob Isaacson or Lee Dean could answer this question for all of us.



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

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8 Responses to Frank Marshall The Ventriloquist?

  1. bob isaacson says:

    Hello out there in Ventriloquism land. In all the years I knew Frank Marshall, he never mentioned that he had performed Ventriloquism for the public. He could pick up one of his figures & give “you” a little demonstration of what the Vent should do; but that was all.

  2. bob abdou says:

    isn’t there a photo or video of W. S . Berger sitting on Franks lap and Frank pretending to be a ventriloquist? I recall seeing something like that. I also remember Frank smiling while this was being done. That also caught my eye because most photos of Frank are of him being serious and not smiling at all.

  3. Gary Koepke says:

    I asked Johnny Main that question once. He told me that Frank could demonstrate his figures, but that was all. He wasn’t a performer, but could watch a performer and tell what he needed to do differently or what he (Frank) needed to do differently on the figure.

    Gary Koepke

  4. Bill Smith says:

    Thanks Bob. I figured he probably never did it in public {at least not enough to be known}, but always wondered if he ever even just did it for fun, even for his OWN amusement at home. Just thought it was a interesting question i don’t recall being discussed. Thanks again. I figured you would be the one to know best :)

  5. LeeDean says:

    I became aware of Frank Marshall at 1955 Pittsburgh IBV convension and spent night at Marshall’s house at such convention in Chicago I believe 1958, slept on a couch in his living room. Marshall kept a neat workshop whereas living room cluttered with newspapers used in shipping figures. When Marshall let me into his shop area it was very brief and there saw a completed Marshall boy fully dressed on a side bench against the wall, most beautiful Marshall figure I ever saw. Marshall said that he “…made it from a neighbor boy down the street”. He did not talk much, always kept a smile though. He would answer specific questions but did not ramble, at least not to me, a kid. I remember when he drove us to the convention in his old car, he pulled over, stopped, got out, went around front, raised hood, did something, got back in, smiled and said “…that should fix it” but I never noticed anything wrong to begin with, no sputter or anything. My impression at the time was he knew how to work on his car and wanted it to run perfect. By that time I had two Marshalls, boy and girl, finally in college bear now in Willinger collection. At that Chicago convention I had to have a small Marshall head he had in his coat pocket that he used to advertise, and I got it and body for it later on. None of my Marshalls or any I have ever seen were as beautiful as the one made from a neighbor boy down the street. I never saw Marshall do any vent, or work in his shop only thing I saw was his working on his car. I never heard W.S. Berger say Frank Marshall did vent either and I was around Mr. Berger a lot. Frank Marshall to me was a man of very few words and more mechanical minded. Well, I must add that he had a short temper. When I called him in 1961 about delay in overhauling boy and girl figures for me he got mad and told me “…you’re just another lousy ventriloquist” and he repeated that several times.

  6. bob abdou says:

    ok, going off topic, one funny story Peter Rich told me about Frank’s temper, which is kinda amusing now (not funny then) is when Peter went into Franks house, saw a book with orders for figures in it, and saw a letter from Orson Wells wanting a Marshall figure and would pay dearly for it. Peter mentioned to Frank, “wow, Orson Wells wants one of your figures”. Franks reply was “that SOB is never getting one and I’m keeping his deposit”. Like I said, funny now, not so funny then

  7. LeeDean says:

    One final thought, although I never saw him work figures like Bob Isaacson did, Frank Marshall must have done at a lot of silent vent, like that Johnny Main did in his last days, like that Paul Marshall did and meant when he said some of most interesting conversations were never spoken–just moving head and pulling strings. He had to have done this in order to know levers were right, string lengths right, head movements right, and so on. I have imagined many times how he must have felt when he shipped away such beautiful works like the one I saw made from the neighbor boy down the street. One can not create such beautiful works and part with them callously. The work Marshall did in overhauling my figures was brought on by my allowing them to become damaged. I really believe he got upset with me over that.

  8. LeeDean says:

    I am sorry I said Paul Marshall, because I meant Paul Winchell {Friday the 13th}

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