Here’s the pitch…
“We are going to put a ventriloquist on the radio!”
“Wait, the audience cannot see if his lips move.”
“Doesn’t matter. It will still be funny.”
That is basically what happened to Edgar Bergen.
This vaudeville performer turned his stage act into a successful career on the radio. His bouts with WC Fields and Mae West were legendary in their tone and timber. Who would have thought that a dummy could get away with telling dirty jokes?
His character of Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd enchanted both children and adults for ages. Although Edgar never made the big transition from radio to television, he still was able to do guest spots on just about every variety show in the 1960s and 1970s.
One of his last appearances was in The Muppet Movie, and the film is dedicated to his memory.
His ventriloquist doll is in the Smithsonian Institution. Our ventriloquist doll is still under the bed at home and not messed with since we were 8 years-old.
Edgar Bergen as a Joke Writer
If you’ve ever heard “A friend in need is a friend indeed” or “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese,” then know that it was Edgar Bergen who said those things first.
Edgar also said:
- “Show me where Stalin is buried, and I’ll show you a Communist Plot.”
- “You find out your mistakes from an audience that pays admission.”
- “Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?”
- “Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.”