Professional ventriloquist Alan Ende earns his living by the ancient art of "throwing the voice". He is also the proud owner of the largest private collection of ventriloquism memorabilia in the United States. In this country, it is second only to the collection of the Ventriloquist Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, KY.
Ende explains that there are only about 3 professional figure makers. He has a preference for the old-time figures. "The craftsmen of the past were the true masters" he says. Figures range in size from that of a thimble to a full-sized, 42-inch partner
Among the more unique figures he owns is "Flip and Pip", the world's only two-headed figure. Vaudevillian great Roy Douglas formerly owned it. Ende obtained it from the Flosso Museum in New York.
"Another highlight of my collection are ten figures made by the great Frank Marshall. Mr. Marshall built all famous television figures, including Jerry Mahoney, Knucklehead Smith, Charlie McCarthy, and Windy Higgins."
Few fans remember that the great crooner of the 20's and 30's, Rudy Vallee, was a ventriloquist buff. He owned three figures made by the McElroy Brothers. These were the Rolls Royces of the trade. Each McElroy figure would have up to 13 different animations, including rolling, winking, crossing eyes, raising brows, flapping, movable tongue, wiggling nose, and raising wig, as well as smoking and other effects.
Rudy Vallee used a black figure named Linoleum, and a girl figure named Sally Ann. Ende purchased both of the dolls directly from Vallee, and Vallee was able to refer him to a number of other ventriloquial collectibles that have since become part of his collection. Linoleum has 16 mechanical movements, and is considered by many to be the finest figure ever made. Ende adds, "Linoleum is my personal favorite, and the number one highlight of my collection."
He continues, "I also own figures from all over the world, including England, Austria, and Mexico. Each area features its own unique characteristics."
Ende, however, has not limited his collection to figures alone. "My library contains over 500 books on the art and history of ventriloquism." One of the books, 'Ventriloquism Made Easy', was published in 1866. Only two inches high, it is considered to be the single most rare book on the subject. He also has publications dating back to the 1700's, as well as an assortment of books in foreign languages.
Alan Ende's ventriloquism collection is more than just a collection of "dummies". Its ultimate purpose is to present an educational history of an important section of the world's popular culture.
"The Odd Couple"
This site is dedicated to my best friend and mentor....
Jackie your the Greatest!!!
On September 26, 2003 Jack Flosso passed away from complications of diabetes at the age of 77. Jack was the funniest and friendliest guy I have ever met. Very seldom in life do you get to meet an individual who changes your life. I was one of the fortunate ones. As I write this I know that jack is schmoozing with the likes of Keller, Thurston, Houdini, and Edgar Bergen. GIVE 'EM HELL JACK!!!
- Alan Ende
"The King in his Court"
Jackie Doing "Who's on First"
"Jackie, June Miller, and Me" at Tavern on The Green"
THE LAST HONEST MAN
By Ben Robinson
Jack Flosso and I met in 1976 just before his father, the great Al Flosso, the Coney Island Fakir, died. But it was not until 1982 when I came to New York after my college graduation that Jack's interest in me was aroused. He Had read the national publicity I received for pulling a bunny out of my College graduation mortarboard, and he liked the idea. Still, Jack played it close. 50 years in the theatre produced a skin that was not penetrable to newcomers -- you had to earn your spurs before he'd open up. As time wore on and I brought producers of theme parks and Off B'way shows to him for large orders that he hailed me an angel sent by his father.
Once I was to go on the road with a touring show, and he had me come to his apartment. I finally felt I was accepted. He regaled me for 2 hours with stories of him on the road with USO shows, and he finally said, "Kid (that's what he always called me), you know what's appealing about you? No bullshit. That's right, you're real up front and it takes a while to get used to. You're like me, you don't suffer fools gladly."
I miss Jack every day. I owe him a tremendous amount I tried to repay in part by brining him coffee and a donut or two, and taking him to the Dr. in the final years. Jack was the last honest man and if he liked you, he'd fight to the death for you. Today in the so-called "friends" world of Facebook and twittering, jack would not have approved of so called "friends." Just wasn't his style. He was a character of the 30's who was held in the arms of the great Houdini when he was born in 1926, the year Houdini made his final escape.
There will never be another like him: comedy writer, performer par-excellence who could handle any crowd, and shop keeper with morals. Jack Flosso once got me an apartment. When I questioned the price, he slapped me on the side of the head and whispered in my ear, "Schmuck, Sinatra eats across the street. Take it!" In a way, I'm glad he never lived to see the world we now live in...he would have been so disappointed. Yet, to him, Life was a kick -- and I think, most of the time, he had a good time.
Writer credit and link:
Ben Robinson's website is and is a full time performer in New York City
Jack Flosso, Jeff Sheridan, Mike Bornstien, Ben Robinson
Alan and Andrea in Amsterdam
A visit to the Flosso Hornmann Magic Shop
(By: Conrad Hartz)
In the mid 1970s, I made a trip to New York City for a week's stay. Being a magic fan, this was Mecca to . me as you had the play, "The Magic Show" with Doug Henning on Broadway and Houdini's grave somewhere across the river in Queens.
I remembered a magic shop near Macy's and I caught the subway to visit it. It was Flosso-Hornmann Magic Shop. Once owned by Houdini himself. I found the little shop and went upstairs to take a look. I arrived and the tiny owner himself, AI Flosso, looked me over and said, "a tourist... ... got any money?" This was his greeting and I learned he was very friendly despite the money question. AI Flosso was a magician and friend of Houdini himself. AI had a stage name of "The Coney Island Fakir." He did comedy magic and did it better than anyone else. Back to the shop: It was dusty all over. Floors, magic and everything was covered with dust. AI didn't mind and I learned to ignore it. AI was very knowledgeable on every magic trick I knew of. He was the same on ventriloquists and ventriloquist figures. The best thing about his shop was AI himself. Not a clerk selling magic, but a walking encyclopedia of twentieth century magic and ventriloquists. I felt I could learn from him. AI told me that I came to the "right" magic shop. In other words, I didn't need to go to others. I told him I was going to see the play, "The Magic Show." I was interested in on effect Doug Henning did called the Zig Zag Illusion. This was a hot magic illusion in the 1970s. Girl gets into a cabinet and two blades pierce her and her middle is pulled to one side. I did see the show and then returned to AI's shop and ask him about it. He didn't want to tell me how it was done. Several days passed and I had found Houdini's grave in Machpelah Cemetary in the Queens. I returned to AI's shop again near the end of my week's stay. I saw AI's son, Jackie, but didn't get to talk with him. AI showed some someFrank Marshall figures whick I didn't have the money to purchase at the time. I purchased an appearing bouquet of flowers trick from AI and he showed me the proper way to produce the flowers from nowhere. It was a beaLitiful bouquet of feather flowers and AI proceeded to put them in a used McDonald's hambuger bag to my horror. For some wise reason, I didn't question this odd procedure as he didn't have custom bags for customers. I was getting ready to leave New York and I tried one more time on the Zig Zag Illusion. AI drew a small sketch of a cabinet and ask me how I thought it was done. I drew my answer where the girl must be in the cabinet and he looked up and said, "You got it, Kid." I really liked my visits with AI Flosso and his dusty shop. What a magician's magician.
Robin Lane - New York City based cult and underground "performance artist" using one of two owned "ugly babies ventriloquist figures" he bought from my collection
"Alan, thanks - you're class personified"
(another satisfied customer)
"Hey - the freaks come out at night"
Tom Ferranti (A.K.A "What's His Name The Magician??)
Alan Ende with Tommy Ferranti,
(A.K.A "What's His Name The Magician??)
"Messing with one of the authentic "Howdy Doody" marionettes in South Carolina!"
"Alan Ende with Buffalo Bob and Conrad Hartz" at Conrad's convention.
March 2, 1996
WHAT A BLAST!!
"Alan Ende with Lou Dupont" at the "Royal Las Vegas"
"Linoleum and Joe E. Sefus"
"Just Hangin' out"...
Alan - I Love your site and view it regularly. Linoleum is the ULTIMATE ventriloquist treasure!! VERY COOL!!"
Alan, you are a quality individual, my friend. THANK YOU! The Semok figure is beautiful and the Flosso goodies you sent my way are VERY COOL! Your really are a class act and I am very pleased to know you. I will stay in touch.
Letter from Pleasant Valley Saddle Shop
"Where Fats at??"
"McElroy" - Clarence
Joe E.Sefuse's Crib"
I am enclosing a check to cover the cost of the publication plus the shipping. I had been searching for that book for over 30 years!
Thanks again for your time.
Not Vent, but wood related and a very cool Christmas story...
Palm Coast dad chalks up one of the best gifts ever
Every gift has a giver and a receiver. The best gifts also come with a story.
By DEREK CATRON, Staff writer
December 25, 2011 12:05 AM
Steve Harrison was worried about his father.
George had been battling diabetes for more than a decade, and at age 58 the fight was turning against him. Since George had been told he faced an imminent need for dialysis, there'd been a change in his mood. He put on a brave face when one of his six grown kids called -- and they call just about every day -- but the kids could tell how much the news weighed on him.
Steve, 34, came for a visit in September, bringing his girlfriend, Nicole DeFrance, and George's mood immediately brightened. He'd met Nicole just a few months earlier and reveled in the chance to show her "the greatest movie ever made." It was "The Hustler," with Paul Newman as the upstart pool shark who challenges Jackie Gleason's Minnesota Fats.
Gleason had always been George's favorite actor, in part because he, too, was a big pool player and used only Willie Hoppe model pool cues. George had owned a Hoppe cue for more than three decades.
On that visit, George told them the story of how he got that pool stick -- and how he lost it. He told them how rare the sticks were, how he had tried to find another one over the years but either couldn't find one or couldn't afford the ones he found. As he told the story, his dark eyes lit up with an enthusiasm Steve hadn't seen in years.
Alone with Nicole later that night, he turned to her and said, "I don't care what it costs or how hard it is to find, Dad's going to have one of these sticks for Christmas."
They started looking the next day.
George was a teenager when his family moved to Sanford. He was already in love with the game of pool, and at the old civic center on Lake Monroe he could play for eight hours a day when he wasn't in school. There were two pool halls in town in the early '60s, and George worked out a deal where he could vacuum and clean up before one of the places opened and earn a couple of hours of free playing time, back when it cost a penny a minute to play.
On weekend nights, he'd hang out and rack balls and watch the hustlers. To this day, he swears he can identify the real players just by their manner or the way they hold their stick. The hustlers never competed in tournaments; they didn't want anyone to know how good they were until there was serious money on the line.
"That's not their thing, to get a trophy," George recalled.
There was an older fellow everyone called "Farmer" because he always wore overalls to play. One night after George won a tournament, old Farmer came over to him.
"You're a good shooter, kid," he told the teenager. "Every good player needs a good stick."
Farmer handed over a Willie Hoppe model pool cue. It was the equivalent of giving a Babe Ruth baseball bat to a Little Leaguer, and George cherished it.
He carried the stick in a leather case with a sheepskin lining. At night, he hung the stick in his closet with fishing line to help keep it straight. He never broke a rack with that stick, using a house stick to save the Willie Hoppe the punishment of that hard opening shot.
And in the shop class at Seminole High School, he carved "GFH" onto the inside of the upper end of the stick, where it screwed into the bottom.
George was a good pool player but no shark.
"I was never a hustler hustler," he said.
He was good enough to give up the job he had as a teenager, pumping gas for 25 cents an hour, so he could spend his weekends winning spending money in pool halls across Central Florida.
After finishing high school, he moved back to New Jersey and got a job in a union as a maintenance engineer at a department store. He got married, started raising a family, had a divorce, another marriage. Pool had become a hobby, something for his spare time only. His son remembers nights when his father came home with a wad of cash and an even bigger smile. "I whacked 'em," he would say proudly.
But his dreams of playing pool were replaced with other ambitions. He'd take vacations in Florida and imagine the life of the tanned men who owned the motels where he stayed. When he retired from the union after more than 20 years, he bought the old Pelican Shoals in Daytona Beach Shores. Owning a motel wasn't the lifestyle he'd imagined.
"You want to talk about a humbling experience. It (the work) just never ended," he recalled recently. "You never even got to go to the ocean - and I lived on the ocean!"
He sold the motel in 2001 and retired to the Palm Coast home where he lives now. By then, he'd been divorced a second time, and it wasn't an amicable split. His ex-wife sold the pool stick.
Within three days, Nicole had tracked down a few sticks. Willie Hoppe (rhymes with "poppy") won more than 50 world titles between 1906 and 1952, and Brunswick Billiards created a stick in his honor, but there aren't many still in use. Online prices can exceed $2,000.
Steve, who works as a salesman for UGG shoes in the New York area, thought he'd won an online auction for one of the sticks, then was horrified to learn he'd lost at the last minute. He kept trying, and eventually found one in the possession of Alan Ende, an avid collector from upstate New York. Ende, 56, had owned as many as three Willie Hoppe sticks but was down to his last one, which he described as a "Picasso of pool cues."
"I kept this one because it was the most classic," he said in a recent telephone interview. "I can't swear by it, but I think it was all original. You don't see that too often."
Ende is always adding and selling from his collection, so he was willing to let this one go, particularly after Steve told him the story. Ende even included an original copy of Hoppe's 1925 book, "Thirty Years of Billiards."
Steve was thrilled, but his work wasn't done. After a few days of waiting, the package still hadn't arrived at his New Jersey home. He and Ende eventually tracked the package through various sorting facilities to an address where Steve hadn't lived in five years. He jumped in his car and drove 40 minutes to pick it up, then rushed to the nearest FedEx office.
Steve had written a letter to his father, telling him all the things he'd never managed to say even though they talk as often as three times a day, things about how much love and respect he felt, how much he owed his father for the man he had become. Steve's older brother had written a similar letter that his father had framed on a wall in his home. Steve wanted his father to get this letter along with the gift, and there would be no waiting until Christmas this year.
He called his father to tell him to expect a package the next day. ...
Like a kid at Christmas, George couldn't wait to open his package and play with his new toy.
The stick had a familiar feel, and George felt like he was 16 again as he stroked his shots. It was uncanny how much this stick felt like the one he'd had for so long. Even the markings and notchings looked the same, though he told himself it was his imagination.
Nearly an hour later, he couldn't dismiss the feeling any longer. He unscrewed the stick, his hands a little unsteady even as he told himself how ridiculous his suspicions were.
It had been more than four decades since he'd carved his initials into his stick, and he had to carry it to the sliding glass doors to see it clearly in the afternoon light. Even when he saw the faint but familiar scratchings, his head doubted what he saw with eyes already blurring from tears.
"It's just not possible," he said, not for the last time.
In the rush of work and leaving early to pick up his twin daughters from school, Steve had lost track of time and at first didn't recognize the voice of the caller on the phone.
It was a cry he'd never heard before from his father, the type of cry he'd expect from someone who'd just lost a loved one. It was a minute or two before he could understand a word, and then all he could hear was "I can't believe you did this" over and over again.
Steve was touched and managed to say some of the things he'd put in his letter and how happy he was that his father appreciated the gift. He started to tell the story of the problems he'd had with the online auction and the mix-up with the package, but his father interrupted him.
"I can't believe this is my stick."
"Yes, Dad, this is your stick," Steve said, in a voice he'd use with a child. "It's a present from me."
His father was not soothed. "Stephen, you don't understand. This is my stick! This is my stick!"
Even weeks later when they tell what's become known in the family as "the pool stick story," father and son have trouble believing it.
"It's impossible," George said, his voice rising almost to a crack. "It's impossible."
Even more amazing to Steve is the effect the gift has had on his father. He shoots pool every day for a few hours now, and he sounds different on the phone. He even played pool at a couple of bars recently, telling his son he beat the players who were supposed to be the best in the place.
George is still loathing the idea of dialysis. ("It kind of rots," he said), and Steve knows a pool stick isn't going to somehow miraculously restore his father's health.
But it's restored something to him. Steve called it hope at first, but there's more.
In "The Hustler," Newman's Fast Eddie was dismissed early in the movie as "a loser" because of his character. Every time George sees the movie, he can't help but identify at least a little with Fast Eddie, to wonder what life would have been like on the road as a pool hustler.
But it's only a momentary escape. As the movie makes clear, the world of a pool shark held little room for a man of integrity, the type of man whose character put family ahead of a dream, who could help raise six children whose bonds would only grow stronger as their years advanced.
This was the real gift. And it had never been lost.
� 2011 The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
George Harrison and son Steve at the Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach.
George Harrison shoots a game of pool with his long lost stick at his home in Palm Coast on Dec. 14. (N-J | Sean McNeil)
George Harrison's long lost pool stick. (N-J | Sean McNeil)
Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats in the 1961 movie "The Hustler." (Photo | Twentieth Century Fox)
Paul Newman plays Fast Eddie Felson in the 1961 movie "The Hustler." (Photo | Twentieth Century Fox)
Convicted TSA agent says theft is common
Saturday, September 29, 2012
A former TSA agent who spent three years in prison for stealing from passengers' luggage says the practice is �commonplace.�
Pythias Brown admits to stealing more than $800,000 worth of cash, clothing and electronics over a four-year period at Newark Liberty International Airport. He was finally caught trying to sell a stolen CNN camera on eBay.
"It became so easy, I got complacent," Brown told ABC News.
STOLEN IPAD TRACED TO TSA OFFICER'S HOUSE
Though Brown says he might have been one of the biggest thieves at the Transportation Security Administration, he believes the agency has a culture of entitlement � and of looking the other way.
�It was so easy. One day I walked out of there with the video game, the Nintendo Wii. I walked right out of the checkpoint with the Nintendo Wii in my hand,� he said.
TSA agents on the take justify their actions, he explained.
�They aren�t paying me, they�re treating me wrong. They�re doing this and they�re doing that. And they just don�t care,� he said of some of his former colleagues.
JFK AIRPORT WORKERS SAYS SECURITY SEARCHES ARE RUSHED
Nearly 400 TSA officers have been fired for stealing since 2003, according to the agency, which is charged with providing security for passengers and freight.
But Brown says the fired TSA officers might be the tip of the iceberg.
Theft �was very commonplace. Very,� he said.
Lax oversight only adds to the problem.
�They [TSA managers] never searched our bags, they never searched us. Nothing.�
He said most of the valuable items are taken out of carry-on bags that pass through screenings and X-ray machines while their owners make their way through security checkpoints and metal detectors.
Two former TSA agents at New York's Kennedy Airport, Persad Coumar, 44, and Davon Webb, 31, were sentenced to six months in jail this year for blatantly making off with a bag full of cash.
Persad was working an airport X-ray machine when he spotted the $40,000, which belonged to a drug mule.
George Frey/Bloomberg A TSA officer, left, operates an X-ray machine at a security checkpoint at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Critics of the TSA say the alleged culture of theft comes as little surprise.
"TSA is probably the worst personnel manager that we have in the entire federal government," Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told ABC.
CAT TRAPPED IN SUITCASE SURVIVES FLIGHT TO DISNEY!
"It is an outrage to the public and, actually, to our aviation security system.�
Brown, who was convicted in 2009 and just released from prison, said he�s coming forward to help make up for his crimes.
�I want to give back. To help ... help people understand you have to be very careful when you have your items in your bag.�
� 2011 The New York Daily News
BIZARRE MOM HAS 500 HORROR DOLLS
'A demon toddler in a black crib was always my fantasy': The woman with 500 life-like horror dolls that she treats like real babies
An eccentric doll collector with 500 life-like plastic babies, who she looks after as if they were living; changing their clothes, washing their hair and taking them to the park, has unveiled a sinister side to her collection.
Showing off the blood stained horror toys in her Staten Island apartment, 33-year-old Marilyn Mansfield says she is happiest among her collection of Krypt Kiddies and Living Dead Dolls.
The married mother of three never leaves the house without one of her dolls, which are so sought after by
collectors they are valued up to $2,500 each - an overall collection worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
House of horror: Showing off the blood stained horror toys in her Staten Island apartment, 33-year-old Marilyn Mansfield says she is happiest among her collection of Krypt Kiddies and Living Dead Dolls
Mrs Mansfield said she first fell in love with the idea of horror dolls by watching the infamous 1980's Hollywood slasher movie, Chucky, starring a homicidal doll of the same name.
'I have always loved Chucky dolls,' admited Marilyn. 'To have a demon baby in a black crib, that was always my fantasy.'
Mrs Mansfeild is so devoted to her dolls that she has turned her hobby into a business, and now creates her own horror dolls, selling them to customers for up to $300.
The doll collector is also obsessed with dolls designed to be as close to real babies as possibly - called
She also creates 'portrait babies' which are crafted to look like her customer's children.
'I would say a lot more work goes into making a doll look life-like and real than goes into making a scary-looking doll,' she said.
'I find it more challenging to make them look realistic.'
Mrs Mansfield said she has mixed reactions when she takes the dolls out in public and often elicits shocks from strangers who come to coo at one of her 'babies'.
'I take them out with me and my family in a car seat and in a stroller. I don't do it for attention, it just makes
me feel very content, and if someone thinks the doll is real or asks me questions, I'm always sure to tell them
it's only a doll.
'One woman who saw one of the dolls in a store recently said: "Your baby looks a little pale. Is he OK?" She
touched him and screamed when she found out it was a doll.'
Mrs Mansfield, who has featured on the TLC show My Collection Obsession, said that her children are not jealous of the playthings.
Her seven-year-old son has his own doll collection and her 12-year-old daughter helps her mother change and wash the dolls.
She said that her husband has no interest in the dolls, but has grown used to their large 'family'.
'Holding these dolls is so calming and relaxing - the experience is very absorbing,' she said.
'When your own kids are babies, it's a special time. Having a reborn doll is like having that all of the time.'
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 09:15 EST, 17 July 2012 | UPDATED: 14:32 EST, 17 July 2012