Update Charlie McCarthy and The Smithsonian Museum

charlie mccarthy

I want to thank everyone who wrote in but I think it ultimately is on deaf ears. They have written a form letter and here it is for you to see.

Too bad that Mr. Bowers doesn’t understand what a PERMANANT display means. Those were the terms of the Charlie McCarthy donation.


I received your email about the Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist figure we have in the national collections. As is Smithsonian policy, we don’t promise the permanent exhibition of an object primarily for three reasons. First is the responsibility we feel to exhibit as many of the objects in the national collections as possible on a rotating basis to show the vast variety in Smithsonian holdings. Second is the available space in the museum.

Currently, the space devoted to American popular culture is closed and undergoing extensive renovation. They will reopen in 2017. The recent exhibit of puppets (of which, Charlie was a vital part) was in a temporary case on the museum’s first floor that is shared with the many subject areas of the museum’s collections and research interests. Third, and perhaps most important are the conservation needs of the object. Even though objects are exhibited behind glass in protective cases, we try to keep Charlie McCarthy (and all other objects) from overexposure to natural light and changing climate conditions so that he may displayed for generations to come.

However, we do promise to preserve Charlie and all of our objects for the long term as part of our permanent national collections.

We appreciate your interest in puppetry collections and are making you aware of the other ventriloquist figures that we have, They include Paul Winchell’s Jerry Mahoney and Jay Johnson’s Bob Campbell from the TV series Soap.

Ventriloquism is an important element to the history of American puppets and we strive to document its legacy in the national collections.


Dwight Blocker Bowers
Curator, Entertainment Collections
National Museum of American History


Have you seen the Frank Marshall Tribute DVD, click here


Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan 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. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2014 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst

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3 Responses to Update Charlie McCarthy and The Smithsonian Museum

  1. Lee Dean says:

    Edgar’s surviving heir could avoid the gift to this museum for the reason you state and could give Charlie to VentHaven or to VentriloquistCentral.

  2. Bob Conrad says:

    That was also the terms of the Howdy Doody donation and he has been missing as of late. I received the same form letter, but we did let them know we are not pleased and maybe they will rethink what goes back on display.

  3. Paul Dudenhefer says:

    I too received the same form email with their BS about Charlie and that there is no such thing as a permanent display. I am really disappointed–Bergen and McCarthy were my heroes from childhood until today. They were–and are–a vital contributing part of American and worldwide history and culture.

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