Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is an act of stagecraft in which a person (a ventriloquist) changes his or her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a “dummy”.
The shift from ventriloquism as manifestation of spiritual forces toward ventriloquism as entertainment happened in the eighteenth century at the travelling funfairs and market towns. By the late 18th century, ventriloquist performances threw their voice to make it appear that it emanated from far away, rather than the modern method of using a puppet.
Modern ventriloquists utilize a variety of different types of puppets in their presentations, ranging from soft cloth or foam puppets, flexible latex puppets and the traditional and familiar hard-headed knee figure.
The classic dummies used by ventriloquists vary in size anywhere from twelve inches tall to human-size and larger, with the height usually falling between thirty-four and forty-two inches. Traditionally, this type of puppet has been made from papier-mâché or wood. In modern times, other materials are often employed, including fiberglass-reinforced resins, urethanes, filled (rigid) latex, and neoprene.
Though many people are terrified by the lifeless gaze of a ventriloquist doll, Dan Willinger is not one of them. In fact, Willinger has collected around 250 dolls during the last 30 years, and now he’s cashing in on them.
The dolls will be heading to auction soon, where the entire collection is expected to fetch around $500,000. Some of the more valuable dolls include one known as “Happy Hazard,” which belonged to Cy Leonard, the first ventriloquist to perform on Canadian television.
What do you think of ventriloquist dolls being worth $500,000? Would you pay to keep these dolls in your house as a collection? Use the comments section below and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!
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