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Subject: Jerry Layne, Ventriloquist


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Dead at 80
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Date Posted: Friday, June 29, 02:37:45pm

From pop culture blogger Mark Evanier's "News from ME" website:

http://www.newsfromme.com/2018/06/29/jerry-layne-r-i-p/

Jerry Layne, R.I.P.

Published Friday, June 29, 2018 at 9:23 AM

As if any of us needs more bad news these days, now comes word that ventriloquist Jerry Layne passed away yesterday, most unexpectedly. No word yet on what happened.

There's an entire community out there of folks who practice and study the Art of Ventriloquism, and Jerry was at the nexus of it. He was not only a fine performer and vice-thrower himself but he was a historian and an expert builder of what his fellow vents call "figures" and what most folks call "dummies."

In fact, there are two Layne-built figures at this very moment in my living room exact, working replicas of Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smif and each week, their very presence scares the hell out of my cleaning lady. Jerry built a limited number of these figures as part of a deal with his idol (and one of mine) Paul Winchell. Paul was, of course, a superstar of early television and he just might have been the best ever at bringing "dummies" to life and entertaining millions.

Details on Jerry's life are a bit sketchy but it is said he was born in 1938, grew up in Brooklyn and became fascinated with ventriloquism as a child and by age 14, had won many talent contests and established what would be a long mentor/student relationship with Winchell. Jerry entertained with his figures everywhere he could, including in college and in the service. He never stopped doing it though for a time, he made most of his living in TV production, mostly working for the Goodson-Todman game show factory.

In the mid-seventies, he turned to full-time ventriloquism and worked everywhere: Stage shows, casinos, cruise ships, theme parks, benefits, corporate events, etc. He appeared often on television and some of you may recall a particularly memorable role he had on one episode of the short-lived but well-remembered series with Leslie Nielsen, Police Squad. Jerry played a crazed ventriloquist. In reality, he was a very sane, funny man who loved what he did and did what he loved. I very much enjoyed the times I was around him.

As noted, he was a central player any time ventriloquists gathered anywhere to discuss and promote their art, and he is very much being mourned today in that community. On the applicable message boards, I see post after post from performers whose careers were helped by this man and who are proud to practice their craft with a figure designed and built by Jerry Layne. And in my living room, Jerry and Knucklehead are looking kinda sad. That is, when they aren't scaring the cleaning lady.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Layne_(ventriloquist)

Jerry Layne (ventriloquist)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jerry Layne (1938 - 2018) was the ventriloquist host of Puppet People, a TV series produced from 1973 to 1975 at CFCF-TV in Montreal and telecast on most CTV television network stations. He worked with his "friends" Lester and Herbie, puppets created for the show.

Layne grew up in Brooklyn, NY during a time when ventriloquist acts were popular entertainment in theaters and clubs. He became interested in ventriloquism as a child and by age 14 was a student of ventriloquist Paul Winchell.

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Subject Author Date
ImdbLinkFriday, June 29, 02:39:55pm
  • On stage -- ., Friday, June 29, 02:41:08pm


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