World’s Only Ventriloquism Museum Is in Kentucky
Here's something I've seldom shared about my personal life and it's not because it's anything I want to hide. I just forget that I tried this.
When I was a kid, I briefly wanted to be a ventriloquist. Now, let me clarify that statement...I MUST have wanted to be a ventriloquist, otherwise I would never have gotten a Charlie McCarthy doll from Christmas one year. I mean, that's the only reason you'd get one, right?
First, a review for those unfamiliar with Charlie McCarthy. He was the main "character" in the late Edgar Bergen's dummy arsenal. And, oddly enough, he was a big radio star way back in the day. Yeah, puppets on the radio. I know. But hey, he was a major entertainer, traveling the country and appearing on TV and in films. He also had a legendary daughter named Candice.
After his death, Charlie McCarthy became an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, which is exactly where he should be.
But that also means you won't find him at the world's only ventriloquism museum, which happens to be in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
It's called the Vent Haven Museum and it apparently operates seasonally; I called up there and they are closed until May 1st. But that just means you have time to plan a visit.
Now, while the original Charlie McCarthy--and Bergen's other main character, Mortimer Snerd--are not a part of Vent Haven's collection, there are replicas.
And they are merely two of more than 900 dummies used by ventriloquists over the last couple of centuries and curated by a staff happily honoring founder W.S. Berger's love of the genre.
Berger's massive collection began to take shape way back in 1910. In the beginning, Berger--who was NOT a ventriloquist-- was keeping his discoveries in his home until the need for more space became necessary.
I mentioned Candice Bergen. Well, it seems very appropriate that she would visit Vent Haven and she did. I was checking out pictures on the museum's Facebook page and thought, "Is that Candice Bergen? How random." And then it occurred to me, "No, dummy (no pun intended), that makes perfect sense."
The collection is rich with history and truly enormous. In fact, this impressive gallery is just one part of the collection.
I'm going to admit to being a little creeped out by the image in that Facebook post. But I also cannot wait to get up there and take a closer look myself.
As someone who used to be a part of my church's puppet ministry when I was a kid, I think I owe it to myself to visit.
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