Ilene Karnow’s Brian Hamilton Ventriloquist Figure

brian hamilton wood carved 002

As would happen I was contacted by Ilene Wonsover, formally known as Miss Karnow. She was am actress, singer, dancer and ventriloquist and came from the Chicago area.

At a very young age she used a Juro Figure but showed promise so her mother hooked her up with Paul Stadleman and she took lessons from him. With this her mother decided to purchase Ilene a pro ventriloquist figure and contacted a young and up and coming vent figure builder named Brian Hamilton.

A contract was made and in 1977 a wonderful carved basswood figure, that was fully equipped, was delivered to then 22 year old Ilene. She has kept this figure, which she called JK, right up until recently when she decided it should become a member of the Ventriloquist Central Collection.

Click here to see Ilene Karnow’s Brian Hamilton Ventriloquist Figure



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 2011 by Dan Willinger

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4 Responses to Ilene Karnow’s Brian Hamilton Ventriloquist Figure

  1. Gary Willner says:

    I am stunned at how similar his carving style is to Jack Coats. The hands are almost identical to Coates hands. The inner machanics are very close to the way Jack set up his. Even the way the. Usiness card is stapled to the back of the head section is exactly the same. The overall look of the figure also looks very similar to a Coats figure. Maybe he studied with Jack?

  2. LeeDean says:

    Thank you Ilene Karnow. I did not know you,or Brian Hamilton. My time was in the 1950’s here in KY and got to know Marshall, Lester, and Berger, the big three of the IBV. I learned through Dan Willinger website that Brian was influenced by McElroys and even worked with them some. It could be Brian worked with other figure makers, or was influenced by Jack Coats and tried to emulate his work too. Anyway, you were a beautiful young lady, interested in the art, and so glad you had special lessons from Paul Stadelman, a KY vent, and a special Brian Hamilton figure.

  3. Dan Willinger says:

    I agree that Brian certainly was influenced by Jack Coats but I put my Coats figure, which is the same face and you can check him out on the Ventriloquist Central Collection, next to this one and when seated next to each other then you readily see the difference. Brian certainly was a talented your fellow and he copied the greats, Marshall, McElroy and Coats.

  4. As amazing as it may sound, I have a Craig Lovik figure from the Late ’70’s that looks much like him as well.

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