The cliché of a ventriloquist is that his dummy starts taking on a life of its own. Though that sort of split personality doesn’t happen in real life, there is one ventriloquist who worked that sort of vibe into his act: Aaron Williams.
I saw Aaron and Freddie on a family vacation to Miami Beach one Christmas in the early 70s. He was the opening act for Wilson Pickett* and I immediately loved the act.
Most ventriloquists project a bond with their dummies. They might be mischievous, but the ventriloquist would gently chide the dummy or treat their comments as joke. Aaron was different. He stood on the stage and seemed embarrassed to be sharing it with Freddie. He sometimes got so tired of it that he’s stuff Freddie into a suitcase.
Of course, by the time Williams came to the stage, ventriloquism was passe. There were no TV shows, just guest appearances and one shots. But he worked regularly as an opening act for people like Pickett and Ray Charles. He also did work for the Los Angeles Police Department by doing anticrime demonstrations.
Williams time in the national spotlight was short, and his act was hurt by ventriloquism no longer an interesting novelty. But he was a fine and effective comedian who broke new ground.
*Pickett appealed to a younger audience than one would find at a Miami Beach hotel. Most people didn’t understand the music and thought it was too loud. I loved it.