Monday, June 27, 2005


Most of the news I've read or heard on Paul Winchell's death have stressed that he was the voice of Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons. But I remember him best for his ventriloquism -- specifically his dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. I loved watching them on T.V. I have far more memories of Jerry and Knucklehead than I have of Howdy Doody (who wasn't technically a "dummy," but sure looked like one). Thanks mainly to Winchell, dummies seem to me like a strange and magical race of human-like beings.

One sad anecdote in Winchell's obit is how at the age of 12 he wanted to buy buy a book on ventriloquism, but his mother refused to give him a dime to buy it. Luckily, his sister's boyfriend coughed up the money for the book.

Moral of that story: Parents, if your kids show interest in something artistic, give them the Goddamn dime!

I wasn't aware until now that Winchell had a patent on an early version of an artificial heart.

Was this creation really meant for humans? Or was it a byproduct of a weird experiment to try to bring life to a new generation of Mahoneys and Smiffs?

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