Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Paul Winchell (December 21, 1922 – June 24, 2005) was an American ventriloquist, comedian, actor, voice actor, humanitarian and inventor whose career flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. From 1950–1954, he hosted The Paul Winchell Show, which also used two other titles during its prime time run on NBC, The Speidel Show, and What's My Name?.
Winchell was born Paul Wilchinsky in New York City on December 21, 1922 to Solomon Wilchinsky and Clara Fuchs. His father was a tailor. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Russian Poland and Austria-Hungary. Winchell's initial ambition was to become a doctor, but the Depression wiped out any chance of his family's ability to afford medical school tuition. At age 13, he contracted polio. While recovering, he happened upon a magazine advertisement offering a ventriloquism kit for ten cents.
Back at school, he asked his art teacher, Jerod Magon, if he could receive class credit for creating a ventriloquist's dummy. Mr. Magon was agreeable, and Winchell named his creation Jerry Mahoney, by way of thanks. Winchell went back to reading magazines, gathering jokes from them and putting together a comedy routine, which he then took to the Major Bowes Amateur Hour in 1938, winning first prize. A touring offer, playing various theaters with the Major Bowes Review, was part of the prize. Bandleader Ted Weems saw the young Winchell while on tour; he visited Winchell and made him an offer of employment. Winchell accepted and became a professional at age 14.
Let's go back 60 years to 1956 and visit with Paul Winchell and his two dummies, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)