1 9 5 0 – 1 9 6 1 (USA)
Ventriloquist Paul Winchell built his dummy, Jerry Mahoney, when he was a teenager, and the two stuck together through a lengthy career in radio and television.
The duo got their start in early 1940’s radio, appearing first on Major Bowe’s Original Amateur Hour, and later on their own – albeit short-lived – show in 1943. In 1947, the flesh-and-wood twosome began appearing in guest spots on television, and by 1948, the ventriloquist was a co-host of primetime’s The Bigelow Show.
Two years later, Winchell and Mahoney were given their own prime time comedy-variety show on NBC, The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show.
This series, which lasted four years – and was titled The Spiedel Show for the first two – featured another dummy, Knucklehead Smiff, as well as Dorothy Claire, Hilda Vaughn, and Jimmy Blaine.
Also on the programme was a segment called “What’s My Name?” in which contestants would have to guess the identity of a celebrity based on a few given clues.
In 1954, The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show moved from primetime to Saturday mornings.
Set in “Jerry’s Clubhouse,” the show now featured Winchell and Mahoney entertaining a live audience of children. Mary Ellen Terry was a regular on the show, and a young Carol Burnett made a few appearances as well.
After two years on NBC’s Saturday morning schedule, the man and his puppet moved to ABC, where they hosted Circus Time for one season and The Paul Winchell Show for another.
This latter Sunday afternoon programme featured Frank Fontaine and the Milton DeLugg Orchestra, as well as novelty acts and lessons in morality called “Chips of Wisdom.” This Paul Winchell Show lasted until 1961.
Winchell resurfaced yet again in 1963 as host of the Saturday morning children’s show Cartoonies. In 1965, there was Winchell and Mahoney Time, then a 1972 children’s game show called Runaround.
Throughout his busy career in entertainment, Winchell had studied medicine and had patented a blood storage system and an artificial human heart. After his bevvy of TV shows, Winchell spent most of the rest of his life focused primarily on medicine. However, he still made time to provide the voice of Tigger on Winnie the Pooh.
Milton DeLugg Trio/Orchestra
Mary Ellen Terry
Natalie ‘Trudy’ Trundy