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The Great Lester: Ventriloquism's Renaissance Man: by David Erskine Foreword by Jeff Dunham Paperback – June 23, 2013
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About the Author
David Erskine, a retired thru-freight conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad Co., is recognized as being an eclectic ventriloquial performer, historian, collector, author, and coach—as well as being a student of creativity and comedy. He has been on the entertainment scene since 1955 and has contributed stories to magazines, books, and websites. He has self-published histories of ventriloquists and ventriloquism. Additionally, in 2009 he wrote Margaret's Music Is Her Life Story as told to David Erskine. Margaret Kiwiet lived through one of the most horrifying times in modern history, but her story is filled with love and joy throughout. The book is available at LuLu.com. and Amazon.com. He is currently developing a CD, The Collector's Voice by David Erskine—a digital look at the folk art of collecting in the ventriloquists' world. He and his wife, Marie, a retired director of critical care nursing, live in Fort Worth, Texas. David Erskine gains great joy by "putting people on with a puppet." At a young age it seemed like a natural thing for him to do. Still it is always a special experience when his ventriloquial figure, Ronny Darnay, comes to life in Erskine's imagination and his right hand. Ronny resembles a McElroy figure named Ezry that was used by Rudy Vallee. This figure is now known as Jeff Dunham's Ollie, a name Erskine suggested to Jeff when he first saw the figure in 1984. At the Arlington Heights High School Reunion, Class of 1960, held October 16, 2010 in Fort Worth, Ronny Darnay was chosen as "The Least-Changed 1960 Graduate." AHHS is also Erskine's alma mater. Erskine also graduated from Texas Wesleyan College with a major in speech-drama and a minor in journalism.
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Consider that Harry Lester developed his talents and honed his skills during vaudeville and the age of silent films. It was a time well before the wonder of electronics that we all enjoy. There were no special effects, no smoke, no mirrors, and no surround sound - not as we know them today. There was only talent, raw unadulterated talent. There was only one man with a figure, his alter ego.
The author, David Erskine, mentioned the year as around 1946 when Lester moved to Hollywood from San Francisco. Lester opened a studio where he taught both novice and professional ventriloquists. Edgar Bergen was one of Lester's students and probably the most well-known of all. The greatest praise I can offer is to say that I wish I had been there. I wish I could have seen his genius and witnessed the growth of his talents. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall as he mixed with many of the truly creative minds of his time. Lester excelled in, and possessed profound knowledge, or proficiency in more than one field. He was, in every sense of the word, a Renaissance man. His love, his passion, his skill and the knowledge that he poured into his life's work have transcended the generations. You absolutely must add The Great Lester to your library and count it among your favored reads.