The Voice of Nestlé Chocolate.
Danny O’Day was the creation of ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson. On Saturday mornings in the 50 and 60s children would see commercials of Jimmy, Danny, and Farfel the dog singing about Nestlé chocolate. Ask anyone over 40 years old and they can probably sing the song, “Nestlé makes the very best…..chocolate.”
The commercials ran from 1955 to 1965 making them some of longest running spokesperson for any advertising campaign.
Jimmy Nelson used several figures in his vent act but his most famous were Danny O’Day, Humphrey Higsbye, and Farfel the dog.
When Nelson was ten years old he received a Christmas gift from his Aunt Margaret that would change the course of his life. It was a ventriloquist doll called “Dummy Dan”. Whenever the shy Nelson was required to give speeches in his fourth grade class, he took Danny with him. Luckily, he had a kind teacher who encouraged his interest in ventriloquism.
Nelson became proficient enough with Danny to begin doing paid shows. He hired a professional figure maker to create a new Danny. That’s when he decided Danny needed a last name. He chose O’Day because it was easy to say. Words with M’s or B’s are hard to say when using ventriloquism. So Nelson decided to make it easy and use “O’Day”.
Danny O’Day the Ventriloquist Dummy
Farfel was created by accident when Nelson was working a club in Wichita, Kansas in 1950. He was doing three shows a night and by the 2 a.m. show he did a lot of ad libbing and joking with the audience. One night he picked up a stuffed dog that had been left on the piano. The audience loved the dog, and the voice Nelson created for him, so much that Nelson knew he had a winner. He called the figure maker, Frank Marshall, who had created Danny O’Day, and hired him to make a dog vent figure.
In September of 1950 Nelson and Danny appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. The audience loved them. After that, they had no trouble getting booked in the best clubs. They also made several appearances on the Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. Eventually they had their own television show. Nelson later added a third figure he called, Humphrey Higsbye.
Many vents, like Jimmy Nelson, started performing when they were only ten or eleven years old. If you have a child wanting to learn vent, don’t discourage them because you think they’re too young.
But don’t make the mistake of feeling like you’re too old, either. A lot of people take up vent late in life. It can be a great retirement hobby and even an extra source of income.
If learning vent has been on your list of “things to do before I die”, then now’s the time to get started.
There are many classic vent figures available at the Ventriloquist Store, including Danny O’Day. Whether you’re young or old, ventriloquism can be a fun, rewarding hobby. So pick out your figure and place your order today.
- Danny O’Day measures 30” (76 cm) in length and his mouth is operated via a string affixed to the back of the doll’s head.
- All dolls come assembled and are ready for immediate use.
- FREE “How To Be A Ventriloquist” Booklet enclosed