Guest Blog – My Visit With Dan Willinger

I’d like to take this time to extend a heartfelt thanks to Dan and his wonderful wife Helen.

On June 5th, I had my first visit with Dan. I was working on the Maasdam for Holland America cruise lines and the turn around port was in Boston every other week. Dan came down to the terminal, picked me up and took me to his home to see his collection of figures and he has a collection let me tell you. It was an amazing thing, seeing figures from virtually all the best builders. I felt very fortunate to be able to handle figures from all of them!

As we all know Dan has the biggest collection of Marshall figures but there are lots of others. Of particular interest to me was “Happy” which I grew up watching on Canadian television as a child, Brian Hamilton’s “Fats” figure, a wonderful Brant Gilmer figure that I was most impressed with and the one I really wanted to see, Lee Dunn’s first “Johnny”. In fact, during my second visit at Dan’s home I spent most of the time handling “Johnny”. I love the way this figure handles…unfortunately Dan will not part with him and I can’t blame him.

I also got to see Johnny Main’s figures. Johnny visited with my wife Tammy and I when I was working in Niagara Falls back in the early 90’s and we stayed up all night visiting coffee shops and talking about vent and the business. He was a kind man and it is nice to know his figures are in a place where they are appreciated and where others can appreciate them as well.

I also was able to spend time with their son Jason who is a talented closeup magician and we had a great time sharing some trade secrets.

I had a wonderful visit and learned a great deal about figures and their history (the highlight was meeting Helen).

Both Dan and Helen are genuine, caring people and the ventriloquist community is all the better for having them. This was just the start of what will hopefully be many visits.

Thank you Ventriloquist Central.

Mike Robinson,
June 22, 2008

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