Monday, April 30, 2012

Search For Black Playpal Leads to Another Find

Earlier this month I received an email from an Argentine ventriloquist in need of a black Patti Playpal or Playpal-type doll that he apparently wants to use in his act.  His request was for me to sell him one of my dolls.  Not willing to part with any of mine, I offered to help him locate one here in the US. 

Playpals and Playpal types used to be rather plentiful (the black versions, I mean) on eBay.  This is no longer the case.  When they do show up, the amount the seller desires is usually far more than most are willing to pay. 

Willie Talk by Horsman, a 23-inch pull-string ventriloquist doll, circa 1972

In "helper mode," I searched eBay for "black ventriloquist doll" (thinking maybe the Argentine might be able to use one in place of the desired Playpal).  I located an auction for a black Willie Talk by Horsman, circa 1970s-mid 1980s.  He was nude and the beginning bid was under $15.  I asked the gentleman if Willie Talk interested him.  He insisted that he needed a 35-inch black Playpal.  "Okay," I thought.  I revisited Willie's auction and decided to watch it until the end.  "Yippee, yay," I thought, as the adrenaline rush began to subside when my lone bid sealed my win.

Horsman's 23-inch Willie Talk, redressed

Willie Talk (WT) arrived last week in need of clothing.  I have temporarily dressed  him in an infant's preemie nautical-style romper and black infant's shoes.  The ankle portion of his painted-on black, cloth feet gives the illusion of socks.  If he could really talk, WT would probably voice his displeasure over my outfit selection.  But since he cannot, he has no say-so in the matter.  I think he would agree with me that he fits in well with my other ventriloquist and pull-string, ventriloquist-type dolls.

Ventriloquist and pull-string talking dolls, L-R:  1960s Lester by Juro holds Lester, a pull string talker, circa 1980s by EEGEE/Goldberger; Willie Talk by Horsman, circa 1972-80s; and Lester ventriloquist by EEGEE 1970s.  With the exception of Lester in yellow shirt, all mouths are designed to move. 

WT's mouth mechanism, a string in the back of his neck, is designed to close and open his mouth.  It is no longer operational.  This may be something my husband can repair after I remove the head.  Repaired or not, he has lots of character especially with the gold-rim glasses I added.

With an eBay saved search in place, hopefully I can help the gentleman locate the desired Playpal without finding something else for myself in the process. 

For more information on ventriloquist dolls and dummies, visit Ventriloquist Central

To see one of the few African American ventriloquists and his side kick, Lester perform, click the play arrow below:




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6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the clip with Willie Tyler and Lester. I remember seeing them on "Laugh In" when I was a kid. There was a red-headed, freckle-faced family called the Farkles in a regular sketch on that show. Lester was added to the family as "Darkle Farkle" with a red wig.

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    1. You're welcome!

      I watched Laugh-In as a child, too, which may be where I was introduced to Willie Tyler and Lester, but I do not recall seeing them on the show. My Farkel memory is also fuzzy.

      Laugh In was a whacky show that did give me lots of laughs.

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  2. I loved Willie Tyler and Lester when I was a kid! He still makes me laugh.

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    1. Me too -- I laughed out loud when I viewed the Youtube video. Viewing it brought back good memories.

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  3. I think they did an appearance on the Jeffersons. I used have a lester doll when I was young until it was accidentally thrown away. Thanks for the information. I did not know they have several Lester dolls.

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    1. You're welcome MDW. I'm glad this post was informative for you.

      The Lester by Juro is probably the hardest to find. The others show up on eBay often.

      I didn't realize, until I stumbled upon him, that a black Willie Talk existed.

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