Why Frank Marshall Ventriloquist Figures


It seems I have a passion for ventriloquist figures made by Frank Marshall and I am the first to say that is a fact. It is not by chance that this has happened and I wanted to let those who keep asking me why that happens to be the case. You see as a past dealer in antiques and as a collector when you start collecting you always strive to find the best items for your collection.

When I first started collecting figures I wanted one of every American maker that there was that carved wood figures. I seemed to have no problem except for finding the master figure maker of the golden era, Frank Marshall. It was a quest I seemed to have for the first 4 years of my collecting.

You have to understand that as a collector I was calling everyone and anyone that I thought may have a connection that would lead me to a figure. I have to say it did work because figures really started coming my way except for the Marshall (I must also say I was looking for a McElroy too but really didn’t think that would ever happen) the so called Holy Grail. Through all my antique connections the Marshall figure never came.

I found out that the antique dealers were not going to be my way of obtaining a Frank Marshall figure. That changed when I finally started to contact ventriloquists. Frank Marshall figures , for some unexplained reason, just do not make it into the antique market and are held on to by their ventriloquial owners. When I became know as THE collector of figures then it seemed to open up for me. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. My dreams and wishes have come true as you can see when you go to the Ventriloquist Central Collection.

The collection now numbers over 160 figures and there are now over 50 Frank Marshall figures in the collection. I am so happy you just can’t imagine and I love sharing them with you all.

Getting back to my original title of the blog Why??

Well Frank was the one that built the figures for all the famous Ventriloquists of the golden era and his faces to me epitomize what a Ventriloquist figure should look like.

It does seem to me that most of the makers emulated Franks work and even to this day his style of figure is still copied. I just think he was the best!!



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: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2010 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: webmaster@ventriloquistcentral.com

This entry was posted in Dummy Collecting, Frank Marshall Figure (Dummy), Ventriloquism/Ventriloquist, Ventriloquist Central, Ventriloquist Figure (Dummy) Makers, Ventriloquist Figure Building, Ventriloquist Figures and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Frank Marshall Ventriloquist Figures

  1. LeeDean says:

    Pinxy catalog appears at http://www.sideshowworld.com/Vent-Pinxy.html and hard to believe Pinxy put his brand on Marshall girl in your collection. In same vein can’t get over why took Winchell so long to acknowledge Marshall made his first dummy. I saw the What’s My Line episode live and can not vouch for the video out there because my memory of that telecast is different. Even TV Tome which had the first video included footnote next day remarks by Winchell, invite over for ham and eggs, have Marshall for breakfast. I mentioned earlier that Marshall got upset with me and called me just another louzy ventriloquist. I believe truth is he was upset with me not because of my calls to repair, overhaul and return his figures but because I had allowed his creations to become damaged, leaving them alone in such a position that kids could walk up, pull them off the set and crack their heads on a tv studio concrete floor. Frank Marshall was a perfectionist and expected vent to take care of his creations. They remained his figures notwithstanding the purchase, giving vent right to use but not abuse.

  2. Mike Palma says:

    I like just a few of Marshall’s figures. Jerry Mahoney and Danny O’Day and that’s about it. I’m not even sure if I’d like Danny O’Day if he wasn’t made famous by Jimmy Nelson. I think sometimes we become enamored of wanting what someone else or famous has even if what they have isn’t really that good (with the exception of Jerry Mahoney-He has a look about him I love).

    We see figures on TV, in the movies, or on the stage and when we see these acts (and if they are good) we want to duplicate or replicate to some degree the act we just saw including the figure. Think of how many Jerry Mahoney’s, Charlie McCarthy’s, Danny O’Days and (now today’s biggest Goldberger seller) Slappy’s have been sold because of what we have seen on TV.

    Whether the figure was good looking or not we want what that performer has, because he made the audience laugh and feel good and if he could make the audience laugh so can we. The problem is, if you perform with a famous replica figure (or one that look even similar to the original) and even if the act is totally different, then you will always live in the shadow of the original performer and you’ll have people coming up to you and say, “Oh, he looks like Charlie McCarthy or Jerry Mahoney, or whoever”.

    As far as Marshall figures, I think they were the best for that time. I’m not sure why some 50 to 60 years later, we still see Marshall figures as the best or the standard, I mean ther are old school. It’s like listening to the same old music from the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s over and over again. There is nothing wrong with the music, but over and over of the same music gets old and you look for something new. Think about it, what if the only car Ford made was 3 styles of the “Pinto”? They would have been out of business long ago. People want New, they want Different!

    Yes, I give credit to Marshall being the father of modern ventriloquist figure maker and Marshall being the best figure maker of his time (next to the McElroy’s) with the materials they had back then, but I think Guy’s like Selberg, Jackson, Lovic, Dunham, Nelson and more, have changed the looks of the classic figures for a new and different audience.

    In my opinion, I think the love for that style figure is a generational thing. Just like the folks who remember and loved Howdy Doody, Jerry Mahoney and Charlie McCarthy and wanted those figures , this generation will like the Slappy Character, Walter, Peanut and Achmed more because it’s new, fresh and not the same old typical cheeky boy. I’m sure 50 years from now, our figures will look appropriate for our generation. Makes you wonder what the figures of the future might look like and who will be collecting this generations figures!!!

Leave a Reply

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