Ventriloquist dummy head

Made in Australia, Oceania, 1950-1970.

This is a dummy head used in ventriloquist performances. It was made during a period when the popular Australian ventriloquist character Gerry Gee appeared with Ron Blaskett on Melbourne television on ‘The Tarax Show’.

Unlocated or disembodied voices have been used since ancient times. Talking heads, or dummies, are a more recent phenomena and have been used in ventriloquism since the nineteenth century, although there is evidence that talking heads were used prior to this to tell prophecy or ...

Summary

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The ‘skin’ of this ventriloquist's dummy head is made of painted cloth-covered papier mache. The dummy's cheeks are rosy, eyes brown, the lips are red and the eyebrows are painted brown. The mouth has painted teeth but no tongue. There are the remains of hair and glue on top of the scalp. The eyebrows, eyes and 'jaw' or lower lip are the only moveable parts. These are operated by hand via a complex assembly of wire and rubber bands inside the head which is attached to a short wooden pole. This pole is also the handgrip for the ventriloquist and has a small red glass bead thumb rest.

Dimensions

165 mm
182 mm

Production

This ventriloquist dummy was made in Australia between 1950 and 1970, although the manufacturer is unknown.

The jaw mechanism of this dummy is similar to those made by the Chicago doll maker, Frank Marshall. The American ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen, used a Frank Marshall crafted dummy named Charlie MacCarthy, which he performed with from the 1930s to the 1950s.

In Australia during the 1950s and 1960s, the Sterne Doll Company made several plastic Gerry Gee dolls and dummies. The plastic Sterne dolls had a separate jaw mechanism. The continuous 'skin' and internal jaw of this dummy approximates the mode of manufacture evident with the ventriloquist dummy, Charlie MacCarthy, who first appeared in America in the 1930s with the performer Edgar Bergen. The Charlie MacCarthy dummy was made by famous Chicago doll maker, Frank Marshall.
1950-1970

Source

Gift of the National Trust of Australia, NSW, 1999
12 January, 1999

Cite this Object

Ventriloquist dummy head 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2017, <https://ma.as/167294>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/167294 |title=Ventriloquist dummy head |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 June 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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