On December 12, 1937, Mae West described ventriloquism pioneer Edgar Bergen’s famous dummy Charlie McCarthy, as being “all wood and a yard long” and complained that she had gotten splinters from him the night before. She was banned from NBC radio for 12 years.
That racy dummy, Charlie McCarthy - in a top hat, tux, and monocle - is one of hundreds of dummies at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. It is perhaps the only places in the world where you can walk into a room and see rows and rows of ventriloquist figures sitting in chairs, all looking at you with the same vacant goggle-eyed stare.
Vent Haven was born from the collection of William Shakespeare Berger (1878 - 1972), a Cincinnati area businessman, as well as the former president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. (“Vent” is slang for the profession) Berger spent six decades collecting dummies. The collection now numbers 700. Every July, the Museum hosts a conVENTion attended by over 400 ventriloquists.