THE GREAT LESTER

Harry Lester   1880-1956

 

Remembering The Great Lester
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  • BORN: Maryan Czaijkoski , in Poland
  • FAME: First Superstar of Ventriloquism, The Greatest Ventriloquist of the Vaudeville Era
  • CHARACTERS: Frank Byron, Jr., and Broadway Eddie
  • ANECDOTE: For his act, Lester would often drink a glass of water while Frank spoke.  On one occasion in 1925, the musicians substituted whiskey for the water as a prank.  Lester drank the whiskey without any apparent difference.  However, Frank Byron started coughing and shaking as if he had drunk the whiskey.
  • TRIVIA: In 1913 Lester persuaded figure-maker Theodore Mack to hire young Frank Marzalkiewicz, who was also from Poland.  Marzalkiewicz later changed his name to Frank Marshall.
  • SCRIPT: Heaven and Hell (NEW: now with alternate ending)
  • POEM by LESTER: A Lock of Hair
  • LINK: Biographical Information www.talkingcomedy.com/SI-Vent-2005/theater-siVENT05/HtgL-THTR-siVENT05.html
  • QUESTION: Who made Frank Byron? Lester or Mack? In the book by Stan Burns and in the TalkingComedy.com article (which used Burns' book as a source), Lester reportedly stated that he made his famous figure himself with a little guidance from Theo Mack. Yet in a 1945 article in Coronet magazine, Mack is credited with the making of Frank Byron. Mack is more likely the actual maker. Lester is not known for making any other figures. Read the article: CORONET.

 

VIDEO CLIP

You Asked for It

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THE GREAT LESTER on TAPE

Harry Lester's Home Instruction Course: Booklet & Cassettes
MAIL ORDER COURSE BOOKLET (PDF)
TAPE GUIDE PAMPHLET (PDF)

CASSETTE LESSONS on WMA AUDIO FILES
TAPE 2: BEGINNING OF ANIMATION
TAPE 20: NEWSPAPER EXERCISE
TAPE 33: IMITATIONS, DISTANT VOICES
TAPE 34: DISTANT VOICE, TELEPHONE
TAPE 40: LESTERíS ADVICE ABOUT ROUTINING

The audio files were reproduced from extremely old unprofessionally-recorded tapes, and thus the audio quality is often extremely poor both on the originals and on these copies. These files, being incomplete (5 of the original 40 tapes), are presented here primarily for historical purposes.

The MEDIA PAGE

 

  

             

    

(at right) Lester in Hollywood 1953 teaching ventriloquism to actress Joanne Arnold

 

 

In 1951 The Great Lester made his only TV appearance.  The weekly program on which he appeared was called You Asked For It.  The pictures below come from that telecast.  The Host was Art Baker.  Lester brought three ventriloquist figures on the program: Frank Byron, Jr., Broadway Eddie, and Elmer Jones.   Most of his performance was with Broadway Eddie because Frank Byron had retired.