Here, I Tie A Bunch of Dummies Together:
George F. Wilson and Champ,
Fred L. Maher and Jerry,
Fred L. Maher and Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan,
Max Terhune and Elmer Sneezewood,
Earl Gotberg and Oscar,
Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan,
Ray Austin and Skinny Dugan,
Phil D'Rey and Skinny Dugan,
and Ted Lloyd (Sagebrush Shorty) and Skinney Dugan
Victor Edward Swanson,
(April 10, 2019)
In February 2019, I began a researching job, and the research job stretched into early March 2019. The job was originally started to find the air dates for all the series that were performed by Ted Lloyd as "Sagebrush Shorty" in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Detroit television. I already knew the general start dates and end dates for his series. What I was looking to do was find all the episodes of series so that I could see when the times for series and days of series and lengths of the episodes changed. The mission led me on a trek that went way beyond the original goal because I came across problems with history related to one particular puppet (dummy) used by Sagebrush Shorty (Ted Lloyd) and with sort of history documents related to Sagebrush Shorty and because I came across things that I had to find out that were related to Sagebrush Shorty. The researching job led to the creation of this document, which also makes up a portion of a document entitled Television History and Trivia #180, and this document is a glorified text-type version of a more formal version that I have (a twenty-page PDF-type document that has text and several photographs).
I begin by talking about a problem in the book entitled From Soupy to Nuts! A History of Detroit Television, which, in the past, I have debunked as good many times through various T.H.A.T. documents, showing up error upon error. From Soupy to Nuts! A History of Detroit Television was written by Tim Kiska, and it was published in 2005. On page 22 of the book, there is this material--"...Sagebrush Shorty had been a children's television star (also doing news) in San Antonio, Texas, during the early and mid 1950s before moving to Detroit in 1955. (George B. Storer had owned the station in San Antonio, but sold it and moved Sagebrush to Detroit, where he debuted Sagebrush Shorty and His Circle 2 Theater in the 5-6 p.m. weekday slot....". My research shows that Sagebrush Shorty and His Circle 2 Theater showed up on Monday, February 28, 1955, on Channel 2, WJBK-TV, and on the first day, it aired from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and it was aired on a Monday-through-Friday basis, and the ninety-minute format lasted for several months, and then it was cut down to 5:00 p.m. 6:15 p.m., and then in July 1955, it was cut to one hour, airing at 4:00 p.m. (usually). The show lasted till Friday, October 28, 1955. The time given by Tim Kiska is the main problem. The 90-minute length was very unusual for a television show in the 1940s and 1950s, and your having the correct length is important. The longest-running show done by Sagebrush Shorty was Cartoon Classroom with Sagebrush Shorty, which was seen early in the day on weekdays, and the show was on the air from September 1955 to January 1960, when it was replaced by a series featuring cartoons about Felix the Cat, and Sagebrush Shorty hosted that series with Felix the Cat cartoons till he left the station (hosting was taken over by B'wana Don Hunt). For a while, Sagebrush Shorty also hosted a show on Saturday and a show on Sunday; for example, in April 1955, he began to host a show on a weekly basis on Sunday featuring cartoons with either Porky Pig or Daffy Duck, and in October 1955, Sagebrush Shorty began to be seen weekly on Saturday. Actually, for a while, Sagabrush Shorty was doing two series on Saturday. There is more to the story about shows and more about times that the shows aired, but I shall leave that unsaid here, since it is complicated and would serve no good purpose here, given what else I have to talk about. While Sagebrush Shorty was working for Channel 2, he used a number of puppets--or dummies--one of whom was Bronco Billy Buttons, a cowboy-like character--Sagebrush Shorty was a magician and a ventriloquist. In September 1960, Ted Lloyd was no longer working at Channel 2. On September 30, 1960, Ted Lloyd's wife--Marie--filed a lawsuit against Channel 2, and she was seeking monetary damages in relation to a bite from a chimpanzee that she had gotten one day while working on one of Ted Lloyd's series somewhat recently, and Ted Lloyd also filed a lawsuit related to her injuries. For one, the Lloyds were claiming that the bite had helped lead to Marie Lloyd's having a miscarriage. By the way, Marie Lloyd was Ted Lloyd's second wife; the first wife had been Florence E. Lloyd, from whom he had gotten a divorce on March 7, 1957.
Now, I have to jump in with big news--I am making big corrections to the general history of one of the puppets or dummies used by Sagebrush Shorty. For years, I have thought that Sagebrush Shorty had a puppet called "Skinny Dugan" in the 1950s and 1960s, but I have been wrong, because a lot of people have been wrong for decades and I was led to believe "Skinny Dugan" was correct--a lot of people, such as newspaper writers, have used "Skinny Dugan" as the name of the dummy. I now know better. While doing all the research for this edition of T.H.A.T. in February 2019 and March 2019, I came across a photograph of the puppet in a magazine (catalog) put out by the original owner of the puppet, and the correct name of the puppet is "Skinney Dugan". The original owner was a man named Fred L. Maher, who was a ventriloquist based in the Detroit area.
The "Skinney Dugan" puppet (or dummy) used by Sagebrush Shorty was created in 1940 (it seems), and the puppet was created by the team of George and Glenn McElroy for Fred L. Maher, who--I say--had a heyday as a ventriloquist from 1916 to 1952, based on advertisements and newspaper stories noting his appearances, and Fred L. Maher performed in Windsor (Ontario, Canada), which is across the Detroit River from Detroit, and in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio for the most part [Note: Fred L. Maher probably had been doing ventriloquism for the public before 1916, but I cannot find any information to prove the point.]. From the 1930s to 1952, Fred Maher was involved in running, for instance, the Fred Maher School of Ventriloquism (which was started up as a correspondence school and which, in the middle of the 1950s, was promoted in advertisements of nationally distributed magazines and was located at 16227 Mack Avenue of the Grosse Pointe area of Michigan), and during the time period, Fred L. Maher and his wife--Madeleine Maher--were involved in making dummies (puppets) and selling dummies. The "Skinney Dugan" puppet (or dummy) was not the first main puppet used by Fred L. Maher. Previous to using "Skinney Dugan", Fred L. Maher had another nice puppet, and based on research, I have learned to call the puppet "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan", though many people call the puppet only "Skinny Dugan" or call the puppet "Jimmy 'Skinny' Dugan". For one, I use "Skinney" because the name existed on a poster displayed at the Fred Maher School of Ventriloquist for years. Over the years, it seems, people have come to taking up using "Skinny" regularly (which is not good enough for me) instead of "Skinney". Today, many people, even people tied closely to the ventriloquism business, call "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" one of the "Skinny Dugan" puppets used by Fred L. Maher and even the "first" "Skinny Dugan", which is incorrect, and many people think of the "Skinney Dugan" who was used by Sagebrush Shorty to be the "second" "Skinny Dugan". I do not hold with that. For one, I think each puppet should be remembered under the full and correct name. Based on articles and photographs in old newspapers, I can say that Fred L. Maher used "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" from at least 1938 to 1942. Fred L. Maher took up using "Skinney Dugan" (the puppet made by George and Glenn McElroy) some time during World War II (which was from 1941 to 1945 for the United States of America), and it seems Fred L. Maher began to use "Skinney Dugan" at some time between about 1941 and 1944, because I have found that, during that period, Fred L. Maher sold "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" to another ventriloquist based in the Detroit area, a man known as Earl Gotberg, who used the puppet at least from 1944 to the 1950s, and Earl Gotberg called the dummy (puppet) "Oscar".
Fred L. Maher was very active in performing as a ventriloquist, and here I show a number of dates that he had as a ventriloquist. The first performance that I know about was in 1916, when he was about 20 years of age. It seems very likely that Fred L Maher was developing his skills way before 1916 would show up, maybe while he was in love with young Madeleine Tatham and thinking of marrying her [Note: Madeleine Tatham and Fred L. Maher were childhood sweethearts, but at the moment, I know not when they were married, but it is known that Madeleine Tatham spurred on Fred L. Maher to make ventriloquism a full-time profession, and history shows that, as a team, they were involved with ventriloquism for decades.]. The 1916 event took place on Tuesday, April 25, 1916, at the Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan, and the show was repeated the following Tuesday [Note: Today, that Masonic Temple is considered the old Masonic Temple, and old Masonic Temple was located at Lafayette Boulevard and First Street in Detroit, and it was replaced by another Masonic Temple in the 1920s (the cornerstone for which was set down in 1922 and the dedication for which was in 1926).]. On August 2, 1922, Fred L. Maher performed as part of a show for youngsters on The Tashmoo, which was a sidewheeler passenger ship that traveled regularly on Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron at the time. On December 31, 1931, beginning at 11:30 p.m., a New Year's Eve event was scheduled to take place at Trivoli (in Windsor, Ontario, Canada), and Fred L. Maher was scheduled to be the master of ceremonies, and he was to be assisted by "Jerry Fitzpatrick" (a clown it seems), and the event was going to feature an "Ice-Sitting Contest," in which five contestants would learn who could sit on ice for the longest time and win cash. On Wednesday, February 16, 1938, Fred L. Maher appeared at the Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan. The Fordson High School Auditorium in Dearborn, Michigan, was where Fred L. Maher appeared on Friday, June 10, 1938. On November 28, 1938, Fred L. Maher and Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan were a part of the entertainment show for the Lorain County Bankers' Association at the Masonic Temple in Lorain, Ohio. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Fred L. Maher was a known for appearing at the San Diego Club in Detroit, and the entertainment club was located at 14840 Wyoming (south of Five Mile Road, which was also called Fenkel), and, for instance, Fred L. Maher and Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan were a big hit at the club in April 1939, when a highlight feature had Jimmy and Fred singing together, and Fred L. Maher started up a new show at the club in late February 1941 [Note: From 1935 to about 1938, the entertainment venue was called the San Diego Cafe, and from about 1938 to 1942, it was called the San Diego Club, and, so far, I can only find the place in existence from 1935 to 1942.]. A Union Lodge of Strict Observance event took place at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on Friday, February 16, 1940, and Fred L. Maher appeared at the event. Fred L. Maher was at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on Tuesday, March 4, 1941. For a short time during World War II, Fred L. Maher appeared in USO shows at hospitals in the United States of America. Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan took part in what was billed as a "Family Party" event at the Benton Harbor Armory (Benton Harbor, Michigan) on February 18, 1947. On December 24, 1947, Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan were in prison--in the Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson, Michigan--giving a series of shows. On Monday, July 4, 1949, Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan were in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, appearing at a fund-raiser for a swimming pool for Jackson Park, and the show was put on by the Lions Club. Fred L. Maher was scheduled to be at the Italian Hall (on Erie Street) in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on November 4, 1949, where an Air Force Reunion of the Air Force Club of Windsor was scheduled to take place. On Friday, November 18, 1949, Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan were at the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a "Variety Night Show," which was hosted in the Hill Auditorium by Robert Q. Lewis (a nationally known radio personality, who would be a regular face on broadcast network television in the country in the 1950s). Fred L. Maher was the emcee for an entertainment feature related to elections in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, December 5, 1949, and the event, which featured various acts, took place at Patterson Collegiate Auditorium, where an election-meeting took place. In 1949 and 1950, Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan took part in what can be informally called "Marathon Farm Shows," each version of which traveled to various cities, and, for instance, on March 23, 1949, the 1949 show was in Elwood, Indiana, and in early April 1949, the 1949 show was in Seymour, Indiana, and on March 29, 1950, the 1950 Marathon Farm Show was in Chelsea, Michigan, at the high school gymnasium, and Fred L. Maher and Skinney Dugan appeared there with Ezra & Elnorie, Jan Latin, The Rural Rangers, and others. And Fred L. Maher and Skinney were scheduled to take part in the Cass City Homecoming event of Cass City, Michigan, on August 9, 1951.
I have a special case to talk about in relation to performances by Fred L. Maher. In very late 1941 and early 1942, Fred L. Maher was appearing in shows at Club 509, which was a night club located at 509 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan (and in the heart of downtown Detroit) [Note: I know so far that original Club 509 existed at 509 Woodward from about 1940 to the middle of the 1950s, and between the middle of the 1950s and the early 1960s, it was at 3929 Woodward and then at 349 Woodward.]. For the shows at Club 509, Fred L. Maher was appearing with "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" and not "Skinny Dugan". Proof of with whom Fred L. Maher was appearing as a partner exists in a photograph in the Detroit Free Press for November 20, 1941 (page 8), and the photograph shows Fred L. Maher with Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan. By the way, around January 12, 1942, the main show at Club 509 had Dick Hughes as the emcee, and such other performers in the show with Fred L. Maher and Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan were Good & Goody, June Aldrich, C. Di Giovanni, and Shirley Webber.
Incidentally, in the late 1930s, people often heard that Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan was Charlie McCarthy's pal [Note: Charlie McCarthy was one of Edgar Bergan's dummies.].
Fred L. Maher died in Finlay, Ohio, on Monday, February 25, 1952, and he was about 55 years of age; at the time, he was living at 386 County Club Lane, Grosse Pointe Farms, which was and is a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.
[Note: I pass along this information about a "Fred Maher" (who may or may not be Fred L. Maher). In April 1911, a "Fred Maher" was one of the students taking part in a performance related to the Detroit College of Music. On Friday, September 1, 1922, Fred Maher and "Pat" Fitzpatrick appeared as a song-and-dance team for a musical revue given by employees of J.L. Hudson Co. at Orchestra Hall (which had been opened up in 1919) in Detroit.]
Here is an aside. Madeline Maher continued to run the Fred Maher School of Ventriloquism and with making puppets after Fred L. Maher had died, and, in 1956, Madeleine Maher made a puppet for Steve Allen, who was the host of The Tonight Show on weeknights on NBC-TV, and she sent the puppet--which looked like Steve Allen--to Steve Allen, and the puppet was shown off to television viewers on April 25, 1956, and soon after it was shown off, the producer of the show invited Madeleine Maher to appear on the show, but she never did, but Sagebrush Shorty and "Skinney Dugan" (not "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan")--probably acting as her representatives--appeared on the show one day in May 1956.
Jane Schermerhorn of the Grosse Pointe News (Grosse Pointe, Michigan) talked with Madeleine Maher for a story published in the newspaper on March 3, 1955. Through the story, people learned Madeleine Maher majored in art at the J.P. Ricker Art School in Detroit, Michigan. Also through the story, Madeline Maher noted that she was not a ventriloquist, but she loved to make her "wooden children," and she stated that her wooden children have been sent to people in Africa, Alaska, Germany, and France. Each wooden child has a head designed with modeling clay, and then a mold is made, and the material for the head is plastic wood that gets baked, and the body is paper mache, and the hands are made of latex rubber, and the outfits are made by a special dressmaker. A very important fact that Madeleine Maher passed along is Fred L. Maher became involved with ventriloquism by being inspired by a police officer--"Mr. Wilson"--in Detroit, who was a ventriloquist when Fred L. Maher was a boy.
I have to break in with information about "Mr. Wilson". "Mr. Wilson" was Mr. George F. Wilson, who was born on August 23, 1877. For at least 32 years, George F. Wilson was involved in performing as a ventriloquist, though being a ventriloquist was not his main job. In 1900, George F. Wilson joined the Detroit Fire Department, and he worked there for about six years, and then he transferred over to the Detroit Police Department, where he worked till he retired on August 1, 1930, retiring as a captain. It is unknown when George F. Wilson began to be a ventriloquist, but it is know that, in his later years, George F. Wilson had a dummy called "Champ" (who, by the way, was not dressed as a police officer), and by November 3, 1929, George F. Wilson had done 25 straight annual Thanksgiving shows related to the Detroit Elks. In 1929, it was said that ''...his 'dummy' is said to be the nearest thing to real life in ventriloquist circles...." ["Many Things In Days Work For Detroit Policemen." Detroit Free Press, 3 November 1929, p. 99.], and George F. Wilson, though he seems to have only done work in the Detroit area, was nationally known. I have found a number incidents when it was documented that George F. Wilson was performing as a ventriloquist. On Monday, January 20, 1913, there was a restaurant called the Alt Heidelberg, which located at 25 Broadway [Note: I have been able to find that the heyday of Alt Heidelberg was from 1908 to 1914, and I note that, on August 1, 1920, the building addressing system was changed in Detroit.], and on January 20, 1913, the Ben Franklin Club (which was made up of members of the Detroit Typographical Union No. 18) held a celebration of Ben Franklin (of some two-hundred years previous) at the Alt Heidelberg, and George F. Wilson appeared [Note: That is the earliest performance (beyond the Thanksgiving shows related to the Elks) that I have been able to find so far.]. Detroit Lodge No. 34 B.P.O. of the Elks held an event for children at the Light Guard Armory of Detroit on May 27, 1914, and this twelfth annual show had George F. Wilson as one of the entertainers. The Masonic Temple [the old Masonic Temple] was the site for a banquet on Saturday, April 1, 1922, and Lt. George F. Wilson, who was friends with "The Great Lester" (a nationally known ventriloquist), performed at the event. George F. Wilson was at the Gillies school for an event related to the Gillies-Bellefontaine Parent Teacher Association on Friday, December 8, 1922. On Tuesday, November 26, 1929, Det. Lt. George F. Wilson performed for about 200 patients at Receiving Hospital in Detroit. St. Mark's Methodist Episcopal Church (at East Jefferson and Garland) was the site of a Father and Son Banquet, and George F. Wilson was scheduled for the event. On Thursday, May 22, 1930, in the afternoon, Det. Lt. Geroge F. Wilson was at the Cass Tech High School auditorium in Detroit, and he was, there, performing at an annual "May Day Party" related to Detroit Lodge No. 34 B.P.O.E. of the Elks, and the audience was made up of about 1,400 orphaned children. Captain George F. Wilson was at the Farmington Home for Crippled Children on Saturday, November 1, 1930. On Thursday, November 13, 1930, Captain George F. Wilson appeared at a fund-raising banquet at Western Golf and Country Club. A Fifth Annual Father and Son Banquet was held at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on Saturday, February 28, 1931, and George F. Wilson was one of the scheduled performers. During the week of Sunday, March 15, 1931, Captain George F. Wilson (retired) took part in an event at the Detroit Tuberculosis Sanitorium, which was sponsored by the Philanthropic Committee Music Study Club. On Wednesday, November 18, 1931, George F. Wilson died in Glendale, California, while on a vacation, and he was survived by a widow, a son (Patrolman George W. Wilson Jr, who was based at the Central Station), and two daughters (Mrs. Betty Quigley and Mrs. Francis Becker).
Now I can come back to Sagebrush Shorty (Ted Lloyd) and "Skinney Dugan". While Ted Lloyd was working as Sagebrush Shorty on Channel 2, WJBK-TV, between February 1955 and September 1960, he acquired "Skinney Dugan" from Madeleine Maher. Based on advertisments and such, I believe Sagebrush Shorty began to use "Skinney Dugan" on television in 1956 (using him as, mainly, a cowboy character) and probably not in 1955; Sagebrush Shorty had already had at least one other puppet, and that puppet was Bronco Billy Buttons, who probably had been with him in Antonio, Texas. When Sagebrush Shorty was in San Antonio, Texas, he worked at KGBS-TV, Channel 5. It looks as if, when Sagebrush Shorty began to use "Skinney Dugan", "Skinney Dugan" became the featured puppet on television for Sagebrush Shorty, and one reason for that is--probably--the puppet was a highly complex puppet and a high-quality puppet, which had fourteen different facial movements. After Sagebrush Shorty was done working at Channel 2, he went to California, going with Marie and his stepdaughter (Sandy). In 1961, there was a time when wildfires destroyed land and homes in the Los Angeles area of California, and it caused problems for the Lloyd family, and in the fire, Bronco Billy Buttons was destroyed. Fortunately for Ted Lloyd, Skinney Dugan was with Ted Lloyd and his family in San Francisco, California, when the family house was burned. In December 1961, Ted Lloyd and his family members were back in the Detroit area, and soon, Ted Lloyd as Sagebrush Shorty was back on television in the Detroit area. From Monday, September 17, 1962, through Friday, March 29, 1963, airing with a start time of 7:00 a.m., Sagebrush Shorty did a weekday morning show on Channel 7, WXYZ-TV, and from Saturday, June 2, 1962, through September 22, 1962, he did a show on Saturday mornings, airing with a start time of 11:00 a.m., and from September 30, 1962, through January 13, 1963, he did a show on Sunday mornings, airing with a start time of 10:00 a.m. (usually).
In the late 1960s or so, I (as a boy) met Sagebrush Shorty at a hardware store along Inkster Road in Inkster, Michigan (Inkster is a suburb of the Detroit area), and he had a vehicle pulling a trailer, in which probably his famous horse, Snooper, was housed (though I cannot say for sure today), and Sagebrush Shorty gave me two publicity photographs, and I still have two photographs.
Madeline Maher, who had been born as Madeleine Tatham, died on April 19, 1975.
Here is yet another aside. Based on research and advertisements found, I can report that Earl Gotberg was not as active as a ventriloquist as Fred L. Maher was; I have not found as many advertisments related to Earl Gotberg, as I have for Fred L. Maher. I do here present some of the performances that I found related to Earl Gotberg. On Saturday, October 26, 1946, Earl Gotberg performed as a part of homecoming activities at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and it was a day in which the University of Michigan played Illinois in a collegiate football game. On February 7, 1947, and February 8, 1947, Earl Gotberg performed in Defiance, Ohio, as part of a "Barber Shop Minstrels" event. In roughly March, April, and May of 1948, Earl Gotberg was involved in touring and performing at cites in Michigan on behalf of International Harvester. On Monday, December 6, 1948, and Tuesday, December 7, 1948, Earl Gotberg and Oscar were a part of another "Barber Shop Minstrels" event in Defiance, Ohio.
I have this addition information about Earl Gotberg. In 1945, Earl Gotberg was promoting in advertisements, such as in Popular Mechanics, that people could get instructions about doing ventriloquism by contacting him 15801 Prest, Detroit, 27, Michigan. I found that, in much of the 1950s, a man named Earl Gotberg was involved in running a company called All-Metal Supply Company, which was located at Grand River and Twelfth Street in Detroit, and it seems that the Earl Gotberg was the ventriloquist, and I also found that Earl Gotberg had been involved with the novelty trade before getting involved with All-Metal Supply Company in the early 1950s (possibly in 1951). And in 1944, Earl Gotberg had a book about ventriloquist issued, and the book was entitled You Too, Can Be a Ventriloquist. Earl Gotberg, who was fully known as Earland W. "Earl" Gotberg, was born on March 22, 1909, and died on April 4, 1992, in Livonia, Michigan.
By the way, while I was doing research on Sagebrush Shorty and Fred L. Maher and their pals (puppets or dummies), I contacted Tom Crowl of the Maher Ventriloquist Studios, and we passed along a bit of information with each other. For one, Tom Crowl noted hat Skinney Dugan now belongs to a famous ventriloquist named Jeff Dunham. It could be said that the Maher Ventriloquist Studios is an incarnation of the Fred Maher School of Ventriloquism, which Clinton Detweiler and his wife took over in 1969 and operated till 1999. For short while, the place was in limbo or on hiatus, and then in 2013, Tom Crowl, Mark Wade, and Ken Groves started up the school again, and in 2016, Tom Crowl took up running Maher Ventriloquist Studios without Mark Wade and Ken Groves.
While I was doing research on Fred L. Maher, I came across information about "Terry" and "Jerry". In the former case--"Terry"--I quickly found it was useless information. Some people of recent times thought that "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" was called "Terry", but that idea got wiped out by Clinton Detweiler in an article that was posted on the Internet as an edition of Mr. D's. Daily Journal on December 21, 2012. However, there was a "Jerry" at one time. In February 2019, I found an article in the Detroit Free Press for August 8, 1937, and the article, which was on page 16, noted that Fred L. Maher was promoting a hearing-aid unit by Sonotone, and a photograph with the article showed a puppet who was called "Jerry". On March 13, 2019, I went to the Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library to see materials there, and I went to the Purdy Kresge Library of Wayne State University, Detroit; the two libraries are very close together. On that day, I was finally able to see a big image of the photograph on page 16 in the Detroit Free Press for August 8, 1937. I have studied the photograph a lot. The puppet shown was not Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan, which I had thought it might be (based on a bad little version of the photograph). By the way, this "Jerry" was not like--in facial form--the "Jerry" puppet that was sold in, for instance, the 1950s by the Fred Maher School of Ventriloquism. To me, it looked as if "Jerry" was a transition puppet from one that I have seen in a 1920s (it seems to me) photograph and Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan, and I say that because "Jerry" seems to be an improvement over the circa 1920s dummy and seems to be a phase down from the cute Jimmy "Skinney" Dugan. I have no information that hints that Jerry was "Jerry Dugan" or "Jerry 'Skinney' Dugan". If Jerry had a nickname related to "Skinney", it is more likely it was "Skinney" than "Skinny" since Fred L. Maher used "Skinney" and not "Skinny" on his printed materials. I have to report that, when Clinton Deitweiler was alive, he pushed forth the idea that, before Fred L. Maher had "Skinney Dugan" and "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan", Fred L. Maher had had another "Skinny Dugan"--the first--that he had made himself, and Clinton Detweiler pushed forth the idea that the dummy was the one shown in the 1920s (it seems to me) photograph. It seems unlikely to me that the puppet shown in the circa 1920s (it seems to me) photograph was called "Skinny", but it may have had "Skinney" as a nickname. Documents or articles from 1900 to 1937 that I have found so far provide no name of any dummy being used by Fred L. Maher while performing. People who see the photograph from what I think is from the 1920s can see that the puppet (which has bushy hair) is wearing a jacket-like garment that is like an outfit worn by a bell hop of the 1920s or so. "Jerry" (of 1937) is also wearing a bell-hop-type outfit. The outfit on the puppet in the circa 1920s photograph has more buttons than the outfit worn by "Jerry" has.
At the moment, what I can say is that Fred L. Maher used the dummy in the 1920s (it seems to me) photograph in the 1920s (and maybe before that), used "Jerry" around 1937 or in the 1930s, used "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" in the late 1930s and very early 1940s (till Fred L. Maher sold Jimmy to Earl Gotberg during World War II, who changed the name of the puppet to Oscar), and used "Skinney Dugan" from some time in World War II to 1952.
By the way, around 1955, a number of "Maher Ventriloquial Figures" were offered in the marketplace for sale. There was a "Terry" and a "Jimmie", and neither looked like any of the dummies who were featured in this document. And some of the other characers were Brown Bomber, Chuck, Eddie, Glenn, Gloria, Harry, Jackie, Paul, Tiny, and Tommy.
Now, let me jump over to another topic, and that topic is a movie in which a puppet appeared. While I was working on stuff about Fred L. Maher and Sagebrush Shorty, I came across an artricle in Variety ("Shades of Welles." Variety, 16 January 1952, page 2.) and an article in The Detroit News (Hart, Herschell. "Air Gossip." The Detroit News, 10 January 1952, p. 18.) about a showing of a movie on Channel 2, WJBK-TV, on January 9, 1952. The movie was From Texas to Bataan, which was a "B"-quality western movie or a somewhat low-budget western movie of 1942. Today, I can say that the movie is one of the movies that fit under "The Ranger Busters" franchise of movies, and some of the performers were John "Duffy" King, David Sharpe, and Max Terhune. Max Terhuse was an actor, and he also did ventriloquism. In From Texas to Bataan, Max Terhune had a puppet named Elmer. When the movie was shown on Channel 2, the Korean War was going on. When the movie was about to end on Channel 2, one scene showed a radio, and some of the audio that was offered was--"We interrupt this program to bring you a news flash from the War Department. Washington, D.C.--Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has been bombed by Japanese planes. No further news is available at this time....". Remember--It was only a movie. Well, some television viewers went into a panic, and they clogged the telephone switchboards of radio stations and newspapers in the Detroit area, and one news editor called the FBI to see what was going. Nothing was going on! It was only a movie. But the movie sort of created another event like the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds by the Mercury Theater of the Air (one member of whom was Orson Welles) on the CBS Radio Network on October 30, 1938; some people who heard the broadcast had come to believe Martians had actually landed on Earth in the United States of America. The management of Channel 2 deemed that the movie was "evidently unfit for television use," and the management sent the movie back to the distributor and never aired the movie again (though it probably would have, if the panic event had not happened). My research shows that From Texas to Bataan did not air on television in the Detroit area again till February 1983, airing on a television series that played old movies and old cartoons, and the series was aired on PBS-associated stations and called Matinee at the Bajou. So, Elmer was not seen again in From Texas to Bataan by television viewers between about January 1952 and February 1983. I wonder if the movie was pulled from circulation by the distributor completely, so the movie was not seen elsewhere in the country on television for many years.
Now, I come to another dummy or puppet. On February 19, 2019, I saw a movie called Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (a 1941 movie) on Channel 14.6 (broadcast) in the Detroit area. That was a movie featuring Ralph Bellamy, Charles Lane, and Mantan Moreland, and it is one of four movies in which Ralph Bellamy played a writer named Ellery Queen. In the movie, a man takes up the job of transporting gems from China to the United States of America, and that man is informally known as "Ventro the Great", a ventriloquist. In the movie, there is a ventriloquist's puppet, but I have no idea who the puppet was. The credits do not tell. On the credits of the movie, I did find something interesting. One of the performers--playing a policeman--was Tom Dugan. Well, it seems very likely to me that "Tom Dugan" was not related to "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" or "Skinney Dugan." But that is only a guess. My research shows that Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery did not show up on Detroit-area television for the first time till Thursday, February 28, 1957, airing at 11:15 p.m. on Channel 9, CKLW-TV, airing under the umbrella title Million Dollar Mystery. [Note: CKLW-TV was located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan, and at least from 1954 (when the station was fired up) to the middle of the 1970s, the station management focused on presenting a lot of programming toward Americans.]
At this point, you might think that the story about "Skinney Dugan" was done. But it is not. On the Internet, such as through YouTube, you will find a video of Ray Austin (as sort of a young man) and his puppet was named "Skinny Dugan". When I first saw the video, which on You Tube is called "RAY AUSTIN Ventriloquist & SKINNY DUGAN", I determined that the video was from an episode of The Rootie Kazootie Club, which was a television series that existed from October 1950 to May 1954 (in first-run form), and it was a series for children, featuring, for example, Todd "Big Todd" Russell and a boy hand puppet called Rootie Kazootie. The "Skinny Dugan" shown in the video is not any of the "Skinney" dummies who were talked about in relation to Fred L. Maher and Ted Lloyd; by the way, this "Skinny Dugan" appears sort of like the "Jerry Mahoney" puppet who was with Paul Winchell (a ventriloquist), and, for one, Paul Winchell did a lot of broadcast network television work in the 1950s and 1960s [Note: Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, though not based in Detroit, did host at least one Detroit-based television show--they hosted a broadcast of the Thanksgiving Day parade by WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, an affiliate of ABC-TV, on November 25, 1954, from 10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (Detroit time), and it was a show sent out to other television affiliates of ABC-TV.]. The video on YouTube, which was posted on the Internet on November 14, 2012, does not give the date of the performance, but I can maybe provide a rough idea of when the recording was made. I know that, on April 12, 1950, Ray Austin appeared at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California, as a member of a performing troup headed by Ted Mack (the host), who was the host of a television series known as The Original Amateur Hour (or even Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour), which started out on the Dumont Television Network in 1948 and lasted till 1960 (airing at various times on the other commercial broadcast networks--ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and NBC-TV). In addition, on January 4, 1951, Ted Mack was the host of a stage show related to The Original Amateur Hour at the Earle Theatre in Philedelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the acts that performed was Ray Austin and Skinny Dugan, and I know that Ray Austin and Skinny Dugan performed at the Lowe's Kings Theater (Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue) in a Christmas Party event for children in Brooklyn, New York, on December 24, 1952 (but this event did not have Ted Mack on the bill). In the video clip of The Rootie Kazootie Show, Ted Mack appears, and that hints that the video was probably made in 1950 or 1951, since Ray Austin was working with Ted Mack in 1950 and 1951, and since The Rootie Kazootie Club was on the air between about 1950 and 1954. [Note: Later, Ray Austin was known as Buddy McBride.]
By the way, around October 7, 1944, a man named Phil D'Rey, who was active as a ventriloquist in at least the late 1930s and the 1940s, traveling the country, appeared at the Club Continental in St. Louis, Missouri, and his dummy was called "Skinny Dugan"; that date was about one month after Phil D'Rey wife, Nell (known as "Sandra, the Sand Artist" in show-business circles), had died.
What is great is "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" and "Skinney Dugan"--those associated with Fred L. Maher--still exist. Tom Crowl first pointed out to me that "Skinney Dugan" is in the hands of Jeff Dunham, who is a famous ventriloquist, and, for example, one of Jeff Duhman's other pals is "Peanuts". "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" lives at the Vent Haven Museum (of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky), which is a museum about ventriloquism and ventriloquist dummies.
Today, a backup version of Elmer lives at the Vent Haven Museum, and Elmer lives at the Autry Museum of the American West (of Los Angeles, California), and, incidentally, Elmer's full name is "Elmer Sneezewood".
I do not know what happened to Ray Austin's "Skinny Dugan".
Okay, it seems very likely some people might balk at using "Skinney Dugan" and "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan", but I now use them as the correct full names, such as in my television history files, and I say that people who use "Skinny Dugan" and "Jimmy 'Skinny' Dugan" are using the non-standard names. Just become millions of people use a particular name for a person or puppet, it does not mean it is right. Hey, I have an old saying mind. It does not matter what newspaper writers say about me, as long as they spell my name right, and it seems the rule should apply to "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" and "Skinney Dugan".
Note: The main part of this document exists as a PDF-type document with photographs of people and dummies, and I have sent the document to a number of places, such places as the Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles, California), the Vent Haven Museum of (Fort Mitchell, Kentucky), and Maher Ventriloquist Studios. If you find that people associated with the three places still refer to "Jimmy 'Skinney' Dugan" and "Jimmy 'Skinny' Dugan and to "Skinney Dugan" to "Skinny Dugan", you will have a better idea of the underlying nature of the operators of the places. And that is that!
Note: For the record, I report that, on March 29, 2019, I repaired a circa 1972 "Howdy Doody"-type ventriloquist doll made by Goldberger Toy Doll Company (Eegee Company), which has a mouth that moves and stands about twelve-inches high; the doll had been missing for about ten years, hidden away in a box, and it had had a bunch of damage to the red-based plaid shirt, which I had to sew up [Note: For more information about "Howdy Doody", see the document entitled T.H.A.T. #128, which can be reached through this T.H.A.T. #128 link, and to see a bit more about the story of the doll, see T.H.A.T. #180, which can be reached through this T.H.A.T. #180 link.].
Note: This document was originally posted on the Internet on April 10, 2019.
Note: This document is known on the Internet as www.hologlobepress.com/dummies.htm.
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For further reading, you should see the document
entitled Never Forget These Media Darlings ? --
A Guide for the Individual in the United
States of America, which can reached by
using this link: Media.
For further reading--stuff focusing on television--
you should see my T.H.A.T. documents, which
can be reached through the T.H.A.T. catalog,
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