Ventriloquist Levers or Ring Pulls

So in checking over my selection of figures I have found that rings and levers were offered for controls on figures right up into the 1970’s. I do have a Ken Spencer figure that is from the 1970’s with a ring pull for the mouth.

The reason I am bringing this up is because it is very possible that ring pull controls may have been an easier way to activate functions over levers. You see your fingers are inserted in to the rings which always keeps that function available for the user at any time. You don’t have to find it the way you do for levers.

Now I am not saying they are better for control just stating factually that with a ring it is always on your finger.

I have a Frank Marshall figure that has the following functions, mouth, upper lip, side moving eyes, one rolling winker and raising eyebrows, and all are done with rings. It has always been like this as there is no evidence of any levers on the head stick. This figure also has a spitter and that was done with a rubber bulb.

I will post pictures of this head’s head stick and functions but I first have to remove all the rings from the cord so that the head stick will come out of the body. With the rings on the hole is too small for them to pass through. This will be on a later blog.

So are any of you out there using a figure with rings or a combination of rings and levers?




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 2012 by Dan Willinger

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3 Responses to Ventriloquist Levers or Ring Pulls

  1. Ony Carcamo says:

    My Spencer figure has a lever for mouth (right thumb) and ring for the right winker (right forefinger). But I am having a hard time using the ring, so I don’t usually use the winker.

    I prefer levers. Much easier to use, at least for me :)

  2. Gary Koepke says:

    A friend of mine owned an old Madeline Maher figure that had a lever for the moving mouth and pull ring for raising eyebrows. I enjoyed operating it… the eyebrows were almost like an automatic eyebrow movement.

    But if you were taking a figure out of the case on stage, seems it might be a problem to get all the rings on your fingers quickly and effortlessly. Where as levers are always where they were placed and if they are placed so your hand lies naturally on them, there is no reaching to find them. Possibly why the rings went out of fashion.

    Incidently, I have a Spencer price list from the early 70’s. If I remember correctly, the rings were standard and he charged extra to have a lever. Price may have been a factor in why the figures had pull rings and/or levers.

    Just some observations,

    Gary Koepke

  3. LeeDean says:

    I keep standing figure in oak/glass chest. There it stands inside looking out, yet with a long string and hook on one end tied to a hook that attaches onto the mouth lever string and the other string end tied to a large ring, the extended mouth string coming out the corner of the chest door and ring ready to pull. My grandchildren and their friends come up to the chest, pull on the ring and figure’s mouth opens and closes, and tugging at the ring causes figure to move around somewhat. They like that, being able to make him open and close his mouth and move around. This is about my only use of a ring as such other than that used when figure brought outside the chest and another ring with string channeled through coat sleeve serves to make it appear he can operate a yoyo up and down by pulling at the ring located shoulder level, but other than that the extended mouth string from the locked chest is my only use of the ring. The children really like being able to pull on that ring to do what they can do with it from that protected distance to keep sensitive areas like eyebrows from getting yanked off.

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