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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Oldies... but goodies! » » Frank Marshall Ventriloquist figures (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

marshalldoll
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I am new to the Magic Café and ventriloquism is surely a close related art. I collect Frank Marshall ventriloquist figures and would like to hear from anyone who has a figure that may be for sale but also anyone who owns them. I am trying to make a registry of sorts of the owners of these fine figures. Thanks Dan
dan@ ventriloquistcentral.com
Dick Christian
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I am the proud owner (and former user) of the figure my father purchased from Frank Marshall in (I believe) the early 1930's and used until he joined the Navy in 1942. He performed under the stage name "Leonard Allen" doing mostly club dates and some vaudeville. The figure, named "Johnny Hawthorne," is equipped with the then standard block style jaw, smiling upper lip, raising eyebrows, eyes that shift to the left (to look at the vent), one winking eye and is able to either smoke or spit. My father's signature closing bit was to drink a half quart of milk through a straw while "Johnny" sand a song (usually "Shanty In Old Shantytown" -- a popular song of the day. Dad had Johnny refurbished (new strings, paint, wig and wardrobe) and gave him to me as a Christmas present in 1948 after he learned of my interest in vent and saw me perform one of his old routines in a school talent show using a toy "Charley McCarthy" figure when I was a 7th grader. He tutored me in the art for several years and I earned my spending money by performing all through Jr. High, High School and my four years at Penn State, adding magic to my repertoire in the early 50s. I was a member of the now defunct International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists, which I believe was absorbed by the I.B.M. in the late 1950s or early 60s. I attended and performed at the I.B.V. convention in Philadelphia, PA in 1954 or 55 and was named the I.B.V. "Teenage Vent of the Month" and featured, with photo, in an article in "The Oracle" (monthly I.B.V. magazine) the same year.

It is interesting to note that "Leonard Allen and Johnny" appeared on TV prior to 1936!

For more information on vent figures, including Marshall figures, you should contact Tom Ladshaw at TomLadshaw@aol.com. He has quite a collection of figures which I believe he acquired from "Vent Haven," the vent museum in Covington. KY founded by W.S. Berger, the late founder of the I.B.V.
Dick Christian
marshalldoll
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Hi Richard and thanks for writing in to me. You were featured in the 1954 July / August issue of the Oracle magazine. A nice article indeed. Would you like me to do an article on my web site http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com about you and your Marshall? I know Mr Ladshaw and he didn't get his figures from the "Vent Haven" but he does in fact work for them sometimes. My own Marshall collection is very vast and rivals the museums Marshall collection. Thanks again Dan
Dick Christian
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Dan,

Forgive my tardiness in responding. I only now checked back on this thread and saw your note. Would be delighted to be mentioned on your web site. "Johnny Hawthorne" remains one of my most prized possessions although I haven't done a vent act since I graduated from Penn State in 1959. Although I still perform full time (since my retirement from the USN in 1979), it's only magic and mentalism. I also own/operate an entertainment agency in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. If you'll PM me at gr8magik@aol.com, I'll see if I can find one of my father's promo pieces from the 1930's with a photo of him with Johnny.

Dick Christian
Dick Christian
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