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November 4, 2009 | Greg Braxton
In the last few years, Jeff Dunham has become something akin to a rock star. The 47-year-old entertainer routinely sells out concert halls and arenas at home and abroad, travels in a decked-out touring bus and just launched a new weekly cable television show. He can thank a bunch of dummies with names including Bubba J, Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist for his astonishing success. For the first time since the heyday of Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy and "The Ed Sullivan Show," nearly a half century ago, ventriloquism has moved back into the entertainment mainstream, and Dunham is leading the way. With his tousled-hair guy-next-door look and a comedy routine that mixes raucous banter with his dummies' riffs on life, the Encino resident's rise has gone mostly unnoticed by the national media.
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NEWS
May 13, 2013 | By Craig Nakano
Matthew Rolston packed the cavernous JF Chen gallery in Hollywood on Friday night to introduce L.A. to his latest project, "Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits," a series of photographs featuring all-too-human ventriloquist dummies. Much of the early coverage of the book has focused on the eerie and absurd qualities of the dummies (the Huffington Post declared them "creepy"), but through the 5-by-5-foot portraits on view at JF Chen, Rolston was able to reveal much more. Most evident: The large format of the portraits emphasizes the human hand behind each doll face: the rosy cheeks, the bushy brows, the eyelashes brushed on, one by one. Where skin has cracked, where painted makeup has chipped, where the 24/7 smiles yield to the realities of time, Rolston's subjects feel the most human.
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ENTERTAINMENT
November 24, 1990
How about an investigation into the authenticity of other artists? I hardly believe that Rob and Fab are the first award-winning ventriloquist's dummies. DAN ROSMAN Redondo Beach
ENTERTAINMENT
May 27, 2011 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The seeds for "Dumbstruck" were planted by a sock slipped on a hand and the wedding toast that followed. Yes, you read that right — sock makes wedding toast, inspires filmmaker. Somehow that's a fitting genesis for this quirky, if uneven documentary on ventriloquists, which takes us inside their unusual and unusually small world. Well that and, as the production notes explain, the 2007 writers strike that had left writer-director Mark Goffman ("The West Wing," "Law & Order: SVU")
ENTERTAINMENT
September 12, 2003 | Kevin Thomas, Times Staff Writer
Since Adrien Brody took off for Europe in the summer of 2001 to begin work on "The Pianist" a day after completing "Dummy," it seems safe to say that the Oscar the Roman Polanski film brought him had a lot to do with today's at-long-last release of the earlier film. If that is the case, then all the more power to the Oscar, for writer-director Greg Pritikin's small-scale debut feature is a romantic comedy of considerable charm and humor.
NEWS
May 13, 2013 | By Craig Nakano
Matthew Rolston packed the cavernous JF Chen gallery in Hollywood on Friday night to introduce L.A. to his latest project, "Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits," a series of photographs featuring all-too-human ventriloquist dummies. Much of the early coverage of the book has focused on the eerie and absurd qualities of the dummies (the Huffington Post declared them "creepy"), but through the 5-by-5-foot portraits on view at JF Chen, Rolston was able to reveal much more. Most evident: The large format of the portraits emphasizes the human hand behind each doll face: the rosy cheeks, the bushy brows, the eyelashes brushed on, one by one. Where skin has cracked, where painted makeup has chipped, where the 24/7 smiles yield to the realities of time, Rolston's subjects feel the most human.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2009 | Valerie J. Nelson
Steve Meltzer, a gently enthusiastic puppeteer who ran a one-man theater and museum operation, the Santa Monica Puppetry Center , for more than a decade, has died. He was 56. Two hours after he performed his final show and permanently closed his puppetry center on Aug. 16, Meltzer had a stroke. Days later, he had surgery for a brain tumor. He died Nov. 30 of melanoma at his home in Santa Monica, said his friend Mike Clark. "What's so amazing about Steve is that he was able to so fully live his dream, and so many of us do not," said Christine Papalexis, a puppeteer who preceded Meltzer as president of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 12, 2004
"Dummy Days -- An Evening With Paul Winchell," featuring an interview with the veteran ventriloquist and a screening of clips from his vintage shows from the 1950s and '60s, will be Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Santa Monica Puppetry Center. Winchell will be interviewed by writer and director Kelly Asbury, author of "Dummy Days," a book profiling ventriloquists Winchell, Edgar Bergen, Senor Wences, Jimmy Nelson and Shari Lewis. Tickets are $25. Information: (310) 656-0483.
NEWS
July 3, 1989 | From Times wire services
The Supreme Court today let stand an award of $17.8 million to ventriloquist Paul Winchell after Metromedia Inc. destroyed all videotapes of his popular children's television show in the 1960s. After a dispute over future broadcast rights of the "Winchell-Mahoney Time" show, Metromedia erased all 288 of the videotapes. The company defended its action as authorized by a 1965 contract it had with Winchell.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 18, 1989 | DUNCAN STRAUSS
The first time Dan Horn played the Laff Stop last August, he worked as a middle act, which made it all the more noteworthy that his performance drew a standing ovation. Standing ovations are rare in comedy and almost unheard of for middle acts. Horn opened a five-night stand at the Newport Beach club Wednesday, but this time he was a headliner. And while he elicited a strong response, there was no standing ovation. The two points are not unrelated.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2009 | Valerie J. Nelson
Steve Meltzer, a gently enthusiastic puppeteer who ran a one-man theater and museum operation, the Santa Monica Puppetry Center , for more than a decade, has died. He was 56. Two hours after he performed his final show and permanently closed his puppetry center on Aug. 16, Meltzer had a stroke. Days later, he had surgery for a brain tumor. He died Nov. 30 of melanoma at his home in Santa Monica, said his friend Mike Clark. "What's so amazing about Steve is that he was able to so fully live his dream, and so many of us do not," said Christine Papalexis, a puppeteer who preceded Meltzer as president of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 4, 2009 | Greg Braxton
In the last few years, Jeff Dunham has become something akin to a rock star. The 47-year-old entertainer routinely sells out concert halls and arenas at home and abroad, travels in a decked-out touring bus and just launched a new weekly cable television show. He can thank a bunch of dummies with names including Bubba J, Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist for his astonishing success. For the first time since the heyday of Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy and "The Ed Sullivan Show," nearly a half century ago, ventriloquism has moved back into the entertainment mainstream, and Dunham is leading the way. With his tousled-hair guy-next-door look and a comedy routine that mixes raucous banter with his dummies' riffs on life, the Encino resident's rise has gone mostly unnoticed by the national media.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 5, 2009 | Richard Abowitz
It's a good thing Terry Fator is an irrepressible optimist. The new headliner at the Mirage is one of those overnight sensations that was a quarter-century in the making. As a ventriloquist-impersonator, Fator can make a faux turtle sing like Roy Orbison or coax the voice of Etta James out of his Emma Taylor puppet. And he is a comedian of impeccable timing who knows how to work a room.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 17, 2008 | Leah Ollman, Special to The Times
BERKELEY -- Enrique Chagoya is a savvy, rambunctious and surprisingly respectful thief. He takes what he needs from the general store of art history and uses it to furnish his own aesthetic. He plucks a few cartoon superheroes off the shelf, sets them among Aztec gods, borrows some settings from Goya, the soup can motif from Warhol, a color scheme from Russian revolutionary propaganda, a handful of icons from the Catholic Church, a touch of Disney.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 25, 2006 | Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer
Rickie Layne, a ventriloquist whose frequent appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with his Yiddish-accented dummy Velvel boosted the former Borscht Belt comic's career to a new level in the 1950s, has died. He was 81. Layne, a longtime resident of Northridge, died of heart failure Feb. 11 at Tarzana Hospital, his family said. Layne was performing at Ciro's on the Sunset Strip with singer Maria Cole in 1955 when Nat King Cole would stop in each night to watch his wife.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 29, 2006 | Susan King
AS Billy Crystal packs them in at the Wilshire Theatre for his Tony Award-winning one-man show, "700 Sundays," one of his cast mates from the 1970s TV comedy "Soap" is watching with interest. Ventriloquist Jay Johnson is onstage just a few miles away, performing his own one-person show. Johnson, who played the schizophrenic Chuck and Bob -- the latter being Chuck's caustic puppet -- on "Soap," parses his life with dummies in "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only!" at the Brentwood Theatre.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 31, 1988
Police Officer Rick Paap has been chosen by the California Jaycees as one of "California's Outstanding Young Public Safety Officers." But he couldn't have done it without the help of his dummy partners: Officer Safety, Prisoner Pete and Fireman Freddie. Paap was honored for his talent as a ventriloquist in communicating with youths through the dummies about the dangers of drugs, the importance of safety and fire-danger awareness.
NEWS
April 21, 1999 | PAUL BROWNFIELD, TIMES STAFF WRITER
There is perhaps no better tribute to ventriloquist Senor Wences than the one paid in Barry Levinson's 1987 film, "Tin Men." "The man was a genius," one of the characters says of Wences, who died Tuesday at his home in New York at 103. "He had no overhead." No overhead, that is, except a voice and that hand, through which Wences channeled one of his famous characters, Johnny, the lipstick hand puppet, who wore a wig, talked in a high-pitched voice and could even blow smoke rings.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 25, 2006 | Charles McNulty, Times Staff Writer
There's something about a grown man with his hand up a puppet that inevitably arouses suspicion. That's the underlying lesson from "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only," the genial though ultimately unremarkable solo show by the ventriloquist best known for his Chuck and Bob routine on the groundbreaking '70s sitcom "Soap."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 26, 2005 | Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer
Paul Winchell, the voice of Tigger in "Winnie the Pooh" features for more than three decades and a versatile ventriloquist who became a fixture in early children's television along with his dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, has died. He was 82. Winchell died early Friday in his sleep at his home in Moorpark, Burt Du Brow, a television producer and close family friend, said Saturday.
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