Vent Haven Ventriloquism Museum’s Marilyn Monroe

October 3, 2018 12:58 am55 commentsViews: 97

In the 1950s, a comedian commissioned the standing figure for his act, having “Marilyn Monroe” crafted from the star’s photos.

A few years later, the comic sold the 5’4” figure to W.S. Berger, founder of the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

Marilyn is now called Cleo, for reasons lost to time, and occasionally a guide will move her breasts up and down with a slide mechanism in the dummy’s back.

Marilyn Monroe Figure is in the World’s Only Ventriloquism Museum

Marilyn/Cleo pals around with nearly 750 friends at the museum, the only one in the world dedicated to ventriloquism.

William Shakespeare Berger was a Cincinnati tile salesman when he bought his first dummy, Tommy Baloney, in New York in 1910. By 1925, he was collecting in earnest and performing as an amateur.

“He never took a dime for any performance,” said Vent Haven curator Jennifer Dawson.

Tommy Baloney still greets visitors today at Vent Haven, alongside Berger’s Skinny Hamilton and Jacko, the museum’s monkey mascot. He was built, using real rabbit fur, by legendary figure makers George and Glenn McElroy of Cincinnati.

“The McElroys made the Cadillacs of dummies,” Dawson said. “They made about 24; we have nine in the museum today.”

Paul Winchell, Shari Lewis and Jeff Dunham Star at Vent Haven.


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