Hard Figure Phobia

Our good friend Bob Baker posed this question on the Magic Cafe and I just could not resist using his thought and asking the same question to all the readers here on Ventriloquist Central.

It seems that the Hard style figures have a bad rap of being creepy and I myself found that statement certainly hits home. I have my collection of over 100 antique ventriloquist figures in my room and I have had people come over and when they stand at the doorway they will say” Those are so Creepy that I can’t go in there.” I will then remind them that they are pieces of carved wood and are totally inanimate. I will compare them to a chair or a table and usually get my point across that they are just a doll. After that they have no problem and actually have a good time looking at them.

I actually once had to have my Dish Network Television system worked on and to get up to the roof where the dish is located you must go through my figure room. When the Dish Network Tech came in he froze. It took me about ten minutes explaining the wood thought, and then he went through and did his job. When he came down and back into the room he ended up staying about half an hour asking me all kinds of questions about the figures and vent history and when he left he said it was the best house call he had ever gone to. I converted him.

What kinds of reactions have you all had with your figures?




Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. His collection of ventriloquist figures now numbers over 100 figures of which there are over 50 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: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2009 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. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hard Figure Phobia

  1. Lee Dean says:

    It is truly a necromantic affair, not in the soul sense but spirit. A blade of grass, a tree leaf, all have spirit. The figure has atoms moving about all the time, so not so dead at all. W.S. Berger and The Great Lester in Berger’s hotel room at the convention in 1955 talked about how a figure with a good pair of eyes properly set seemed to move all by themself, but I had experienced that illusion long before I heard them talking about it and confirmed to myself, why they’ve experienced the same thing.

  2. Eileen & Joe Children's Entertainers UK says:

    Hi Dan,
    I prefer working with the traditional Vent Dolls as there have much more about them.

    I think people have been brainwashed with silly movies.

    I use different types of Dolls in my show but I prefer the ones with the strings!!!!!!!

    Take care,
    Happy Venting!!!!!!
    Eileen & Joe Children’s Entertainers UK

  3. Keith Singleton says:

    Never had a problem like that. Have worked with soft figures for decades. However, back in the years when I worked with hard cheeky boy types, I did have one spooked reaction, though. It was a routine I did just once when The Exorcist came out. My dummy became possessed and growled like Linda Blair, then his head slowly spun around. Twelve hundred people in the packed auditorium totally freaked out. Comedy and horror have a lot in common. As Joe Wolf (a producer of Nightmare on Elm Street and the original Halloween) told me, “Horror IS comedy.”
    People get scared and then they laugh to break the tension.

  4. Ken Shapiro says:

    Dan, I actually had a similar experience to yours with my Direct TV repairman. He would not go into my office where my Ventiriloquist figures are on display. After convincing him that they were simple made of wood and were only dolls, he went in to do the repairs.
    Unfortunately he never came out. All we found was some remnants of shredded cable, a shirt patch that read “direct” and an unchewed butt crack. Who knew?????

  5. A friend of my wife’s recently visited our house with her 9 year old little girl. My wife’s friend asked me to get my vent partner, Harry Jones, out for her daughter to see. The poor little girl flipped out when I came around the corner with Harry talking away.
    So I explained how it was me talking for Harry, and making him move. Then I removed Harry’s head to show her the levers and headstick. Once she realized that he was a “puppet”, she was OK, and began having fun talking to Harry.

  6. john says:

    Im looking for a vent doll. A Devil looking vent doll with the horns on his head and red face. Even if I have to, I wish to get one made for me. I want him to have moving eyes, head able to move left and right. I have no idea how much a doll like this would cost but I really would like to find out. I been looking for a vent doll like this over a year.

    please reply
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply

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