With the triumvirate of giants named Don, Darren, and Dennis passing away this past weekend, it would be understandable if the death of Rickie Layne at the age of 81 on 2/11 went without notice. It may have done so, anyway, I don't know.
Rickie Layne was a ventriloquist who frequently appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' with his Yiddish-accented dummy Velvel.
Nat "King" Cole discovered Layne in 1955 and urged Ed Sullivan to put the act on his popular Sunday night variety show.
Cole even made an unusual guarantee: if Layne bombed, Cole would appear on the show for free.
Layne made his Sullivan debut on Jan. 1, 1956, and returned several dozen times. Sullivan was such a fan that he often got into the act himself, serving as straight man for the dummy that called the typically stone-faced host "Ed Solomon."
During one appearance, Sullivan told Velvel that he had bought him a dog as a gift, but Velvel said he hated dogs.
"I used to be a tree!" Velvel explained.
In 2002, the International Ventriloquist Association gave Rickie Layne a lifetime achievement award.
- The Next Voice You Hear... (1986) TV Episode .... Morry
"The Jimmy Stewart Show"
- Pro Bono Publico (1971) TV Episode .... Fred Shimmel
"The Thin Man"
- The Painted Witnesses (1958) TV Episode .... Carl
THE LEAGUE OF THEMSELVES
"Toast of the Town"
... aka The Ed Sullivan Show
[Thanks to the IMDb.com]