There have been some brilliant double acts over the years, but when one partner passes away, the other can carry on, retire or like Sooty or Basil Brush, find another Human to take over the reins.
Not so with a ventriloquist.
Keith Harris (21 September 1947 – 28 April 2015 )
Not that I was a fan, and I still cringe if I hear Orville’s song (it got to Number 4 in the charts in 1982) on the radio, but it is unlikely that he and Chuckles will see the entertainment limelight again.
It got me thinking about ventriloquists I ‘grew up’ with, their shows and humour, which wasn’t all directed at a child.
Ray Alan was one of Dad’s favourites, and for years I thought Lord Charles was real, just small.
The conversations between Puppeteer and Dummy were like anything you’d hear between two adults discussing the weather, politics or voicing personal opinions.
Ray Alan was the ‘straight guy’ in the partnership, accepting the put downs from his posh and slightly sloshed ‘colleague’ completely deadpan. In my opinion, he was one of the best ventriloquists ever, as his act was effortless and believable.
Terry Hall (20 November 1926 – 3 April 2007 ) and Lenny the Lion were another classic act in my childhood. Lenny was more expressive and tactile than Lord Charles, but the charm was there, especially as Terry Hall is credited as being the first ventriloquist to use a non human puppet. Lenny was made out of an old fox fur with a paper mache face, though the original teeth were removed in order not to scare youngsters in the audience!
Lenny would put on a bashful stance and was renowned for his catchphrase “Aw, don’t embawass me!”
And who can forget Shari Lewis (January 17, 1933 – August 2, 1998) and Lamb Chop?
Made from a sock, this little puppet had me in stitches, though I can’t remember too much about Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse, two of her other creations.
Here’s a few little snippets I didn’t know either:
Source : WIKI
When Lewis appeared before Congress in 1993 to testify in favor of protections for children’s television, Lamb Chop was granted permission to speak.
An accomplished musician, she conducted major symphonies in the United States, Japan, and Canada.
She was also a strict vegan.
Shari Lewis had a daughter, Mallory, by her second husband Jeremy Tarcher.
Having legally changed her name to Mallory Lewis, she resumed her mother’s work with Lamb Chop in 2000.
The last guy I remember to hit the headlines with a dummy was
Nookie Bear Roger De Courcey.
They won New Faces, a talent show which together with Opportunity Knocks was a forerunner to Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor of today, in 1976.
I could never warm to him, or the Bear, which apparently was originally called Bollocks.