This one is the tricky one, because there are quite a few.
Here’s a list of American ventriloquist winners:
• Tony Bennett, 1962, Washington, D.C.
• Roy Rogers, 1972, New Orleans
• Bob Hope, 1979, L.A.
• Phil Connors, 1986, Nashville
• Jimmy Swaggart, 1982, Birmingham (to appear in ‘Duck Soup’)
• Joe Wengert, 1987, St. Louis (to appear in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’)
• Paul Whiteman, 1988, Philadelphia (to appear in ‘The Little Rascals’)
• George Lucas, 1993, San Francisco (to appear in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’)
• Ed McMahon, 1998, Las Vegas (to appear in ‘Star Wars)
• Steve Carrel, 2001, Washington DC
• Kevin Kelleher, 2002, New Orleans
The only known U.S. ventriloquist who has not been born in New Jersey is Tom Kenny, but he apparently has never competed.
The winner of the 2010 Ventriloquist National Championship is a mystery, because we don’t track all of them in the National Championship. It’s a great show, and anyone who wants to watch one can do so, but to watch them all is overwhelming, and I don’t know anyone who’s qualified, yet.
Mystery artist: Steve Kellar, a.k.a. Big Steve, who is also known as “Sugar Man” or “The Sugar Face.”
Steve Kellar is a ventriloquist.
Steve Kellar isn’t a true ventriloquist. In fact, he just likes his name. But in 2008, he won a national contest over the names “Eddie,” “Ferg,” and “Cookie,” which is also a name that the American ventriloquist tradition uses.
Steve Kellar won in the “Steve Kellar ventriloquist” category, beating out the competition to become the first American to win it.
He said he has worked as a ventriloquist since his teens, and is now doing a little extra-bit of voice-over work. If you were reading this column yesterday, you may recall him and his fellow ventriloquist. They went on a ventriloquist’s rant (or rant-rap!)
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