Jerry Layne's Comparison to Vent Haven's W.S. Berger

I had a very nice conversation yesterday with Jerry Layne as we discussed some business after the ConVENTion last week. I was exceedingly happy with a statement that he said to me and that was that I was this century’s W.S. Berger. Jerry had gone to the Ventriloquist Central web site and had finally spent some time browsing all that the site has to offer.

He was very impressed with the Ventriloquist Central Collection and was amazed to know that I had put this collection together in a short 12 years.

W.S Berger was like me a non ventriloquist but he loved the art and the figures (and anything else that in the slightest way encompassed ventriloquism) and over a period of collecting which spanned 4 decades he amassed approximately 550 figures.

I have approximately 160 figures at present and if I can keep up pace I am actually doing better than W.S. in the quest. Also during Mr Berger’s time all of the great makers like Marshall, Pinxy, Spencer, Carol, McElroys were all alive and therefore the figures were readily available. They in fact were not collectible except to him. For me it is an active search because non are available any longer and they must be sought out from private hands that have had them hidden away for decades.

I only wish I was able to just make a telephone call and order a great figure from Frank Marshall or from the McElroy brothers. That would be so great!!

Mr Berger also sold figures for Frank Marshall and for Len Insull. As matter of fact most of the Insull pocket figures were sold by Mr Berger. He was a business man for sure and utilized all avenues to add to his collection.

I had a great conversation with Lisa Sweasy at the museum and she told me there are over 500,000 pieces of correspondence from Mr Berger. He networked back then as if he had a computer. No wonder he was able to have so many figures end up in the museum.

Well Jerry just made me feel great because Mr Berger is MY idol and I am just so pleased to be thought of in his shadow.

Thanks Jerry for the compliment!!



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 2010 by Dan Willinger

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This entry was posted in ConVENTion, Ventriloquism/Ventriloquist, Ventriloquist Central, W.S. Berger & Vent Haven. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Jerry Layne's Comparison to Vent Haven's W.S. Berger

  1. Gary Koepke says:

    Interesting Dan! I actually corresponded with W.S. Berger for a couple years… always got a quick reply even when he sent me letters from that Baptist home shortly before his death and wrote the letters from under the covers with a flash light because the staff thought he should be sleeping! LOL!

    Quite a compliment!

    Gary Koepke

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