Ventriloquist Terry Bennett

 



Terry Bennett was born on April 25, 1930. He began his career at age 14. His interest in the art of ventriloquism began at the age of 10 when his Uncle gave him a small Charlie McCarthy figure as a birthday present.

For several years, Terry entertained friends and relatives. During those years he developed the technique needed and defined the character of his figure. He also invested in a couple of Turner figures from Lou Tannens in New York City.

He entered talent contents and appeared on weekends at the RKO and Loew’s theaters throughout the New York area. During these formative years he joined a group of young but talented semiprofessionals and went on tour with the USO to entertain those in the military.

By the time he was 17, he had won enough talent contests to have earned himself a certain amount of recognition. New York agents approached him and he began to receive offers for future bookings. He appeared in such television shows as Arthur Godfrey, Johnny Johnston and the Kate Smith Hour. TV was in its infancy but it was a marvelous medium and showcase. The exposure enabled Terry to receive offers to appear in larger and better known theaters and nightclubs. He was then appearing with top name headliners in New York, Washington DC, Miami and New Orleans.

He had saved enough money to be able to send away for his first Frank Marshall figure. Frank Marshall lived in Chicago and he was a master at his craft. You could go no higher. It took Frank three months to create Red Flannels. This was to be the beginning of a long and lasting friendship between Terry and Frank.

Terry's career came to an abrupt halt when in the Spring of 1951, he was drafted and did a compulsory stint in the Army. He spent two years in Orleans, France from 1951 to 1953 but was allowed to take Red Flannels along and continue entertaining for the troops.

When he returned from Europe he was 23 years old. It was difficult to start over. He had lost most of his contacts but not his drive. In a sense it was a new beginning.

He married Joy Ann Page, a young girl he had met three years previously when his agent had sent him to Florida. Terry and Joy were married June 18, 1953 in New York City, two weeks after his discharge from the Army. It was time to create a new act - one that would include his wife Joy.

Terry, Joy and Red Flannels went on tour in Canada for approximately one year. It was a way to iron out the wrinkles and develop the new act. They felt they were all ready to go back. They decided to leave Canada and head for Chicago. It seemed a good place to start. It was!

From 1954 until 1963, the Bennett’s and Red Flannels, along with several other ventriloquial figures and hand puppets, appeared on WBKB—TV an ABC Television network affiliate. These were the years of live performance. It was a challenge. Terry created, wrote and produced a television show called Jobblewocky Place. It aired every morning from 8:00 `— 9:00, five days a week. It was a preschool children’s show that met with great success. Terry cast Joy in the role of a precocious 12 year old ward named Pamela Puppet. Jobblewocky Place was presented with numerous awards for both its content and versatility. It was one of the first live TV shows to encompass both education and moral lessons in a very entertaining format. As a ventriloquist, Terry was able to create many other personalities as well. He introduced: Timothy Timber (another Frank Marshall figure) into the show. Other characters that followed were Bertran Turtle, Homer, Mr. Head, Mr. Engineer and Uncle Louie (a talking picture that hung on the wall of the set). A third Marshall figure was created and Terry named him Rusty Hinges.

During the same period of time, Terry put together an entirely different type of TV show, one that was to air every Saturday night, on the same station. It was called Shock Theater and it developed into the highest rated show WBWK had. Terry played the role of an comical, ghoulish, befuddled yet lovable character named Marvin. This was in sharp contrast to the engaging young ventriloquist of the morning children’s show. Joy would then become Dear, the faceless counterpart of the macabre Marvin. It would be years before the TV audience would see what Dear really looked like. It was a gimmick that enhanced the already popular show.

As a result of the tremendous following, the show: was expanded by an additional two hours. Shock Theater remained Shock Theater but was followed by the Shocktale Party that included guest celebrates and a live band affectionately known as the Deadbeats.

Both Jobblewocky Place and Shock Theater lasted eight years through their continued popularity and the support of the fans.

By then, the Bennett's had become parents. Yes, Red Flannels had a rival. Their first son, Kip, was born October 22, 1960 and that happy event made the front cover of the Chicago Life, a Sunday pictorial of the Chicago Daily News.

In 1963, Terry, Joy, Kip and of course, Red Flannels, and other members said good-bye to Chicago and headed home to New York.

Terry went on to become Program Director for WPIX TV. As a director and producer he was responsible for conceiving the ideas that went into creating live local shows. He wrote the skits that were used on the Clay Cole Show, another Saturday night show featuring top names in the business. One show, The Wacky World of Mr. B., although short lived, received great review by the critics.

His last show on TV was a Sunday morning show geared for the small fry. It was called, Lets Have Fun. He was back again doing what he knew and loved best. Ventriloquism was his first love and he was an outstanding ventriloquist.
By then, Terry and Joy had two more children. Jill, their daughter, was born May 11, 1966. Their second son, Kerry, was born January 17, 1967. The Bennett family lived in New Rochelle, New York.

Terry Bennett died October 12, 1977. He was only 47 years old. He is still remembered by many.

 


 

 

 

Puppets, Dummies & Characters of Terry Bennett

 

 

RED FLANNELS: Created by Frank Marshall, the man who made Charlie McCarthy. Red is the mischievous 'boy' image of children everywhere. (Terry Bennett's original Red Flannels was a J.C. Turner figure and now resides in the Ventriloquist Central Collection.  Click here to see him)

A TWIN: What? A twin brother for a dummy? Terry's got him, and you should see what happens when they both get together to confuse Terry! Terry is the world's ONLY ventriloquist working with "TWINS".

MORGAN, THE MOON MAN: Morgan is the FIRST Puppet from the Moon to arrive here to create a bit of havoc with Terry and his dummy pals!

MISSY: A precocious girl dummy who tries to 'control' the boys in the 'family'. (Missy was carved by Frank Marshall originally for Roy Douglas.  It now resides in the Ventriloquist Central Collection.  Click here to see)

MR. HEAD: A little Box with a voice. (We never do see who's in it) but he's magical and mystical, and can do the greatest magic tricks in the world.

UNCLE LOUIE: A talking picture, you say? That's right! Uncle Louie hangs from the nearest wall . . .AND HE TALKS!

BERTRAM, THE TURTLE: Bertram is perhaps the worlds LARGEST turtle but he's also the sleepiest. Try and keep him awake!

HUGO, THE ANSWER HAND: The smartest GLOVE in captivity!

THE MAILMAN: Who would believe a dummy lived in ea mailbox? There's one complete with voices in Terry Bennett’s world. See for yourself.

HIPPO HIPPO: When Terry went Big Game hunting he caught something special. As a matter it's so special it just won't stop talking!

PETER PARROT: What a parrot! So life-like . . he tries to repeat everything you teach him. Oh yea?

RUSTY HINGES: This "angry" little Boy wants to be the ruffian in the neighborhood. . . that is, until you pin him to action.

TIMOTHY TIMBER: Here is the worlds smallest Sailor. Hear him tell about his adventures. You won't believe him either.

THE FUN BOOTH: FUN booth or PHONE booth? Judge for yourself although you'll find a combination of both. Including the appearance of:

HELEN: Helen is the telephone operator. Who doesn't get the number correct often, but when someone answers, you'll meet:

THE PHONE: An old—time telephone, complete with MOVING LIPS and voices of the different people you call!

THE THREE SMART MEN: Three heads on a shelf! Yet they talk INDEPENDENTLY and ALL THREE AT THE SAME TIME! Can a duck, a dog and a man do it? See for yourself!

THE TALKING SHOE: Why Not? A shoe has a tongue, doesn't it?

DICKIE DUCK: A duckie character!

KENNETH KANGAROO: The worlds smallest kangaroo . . . You can hardly hear what he's saying! But you do!

THE LITTLE PEOPLE: An original "cut-out" satire of events with Characters and voices enacting little events.

THE SUITCASE STAGE: Who would believe a suitcase converted into a puppet stage? You'll believe it with Terry Bennett!

.... and add these character dummies:

A Lion
A Tiger
An Alligator
A Mouse
A Talking bottle
A Cat

 

 

Terry Bennett Videos
Click here

 

 


 

 

Terry Bennett's Resume
 

 

 
 

 

 

Pictures of Terry Bennett

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
   

 

 
     
     
 

Terry Bennett Videos
Click here

 

SPECIAL THANKS:  Ventriloquist Central would like to thank Kerry Bennett, son of Terry Bennett for providing this information and giving us permission to share it with you.