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Jimmy Nelson
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    (December 15, 1928-September 24, 2019)
    Born in Chicago, Illinois
    Best known dummies were Danny O’Day and Farfel the Dog
    Spokesperson for Texaco on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater (1952-56)
    Hosted the game show ‘Come Closer’ (1954)
    Made over 120 commercials for Nestlé (1955-66)
    Danny O’Day would sing ‘N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé’s makes the very best…’ followed by Farfel singing ‘Chaw-klit’
    Hosted the children’s show ‘Studio 99-1/2’ on WNTA in New York City (1960-61)
    Recorded the instructional albums ‘Instant Ventriloquism’ (1964) and ‘Instant Ventriloquism, Volume 2’ (1966)
    Appeared in the documentary ‘I’m No Dummy’ (2009)
    His first dummy was won by his aunt in a bingo game.
    During his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Ed cut him off before his big finish because the show was running long (1950).
    Producer Archie Bleyer wanted him to appear on the Everly Brothers’ song ‘Bird Dog’ – he would have sung the title in Farfel’s voice – but the duo refused.
    The signature ending of the Nestlé commercials, in which Farfel’s mouth would audibly snap shut, is considered poor ventriloquism technique, and came about by accident: during his audition, he was so nervous that his hands became sweaty, resulting in his finger slipping off the lever controlling Farfel’s mouth.
    He was married to Betty Norman for 63 years.
    He named Farfel after a Jewish noodle soup, having seen the word on a Borscht Belt hotel’s menu.
    Jeff Dunham is among the ventriloquists who honed their technique using his albums.
    In honor of his 70th year in show biz, the International Ventriloquist Convention named him ‘Dean of American Ventriloquists’ (2011).

Credit: C. Fishel

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