Edgar Bergen - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tucked in a corner of the Toy Box within view of the riders on our tram, but overwhelmed by Cowlamity Jane and a few of the other pieces on display, is a large poster advertising a man who can safely be described as the most popular ventriloquist of the 20th century.  His name was Edgar Bergen, and he is inextricably linked to his two most famous creations:  Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.  Bergen, born Bergren to Swedish immigrants in 1903 Chicago, had to grow up pretty quickly.  His father died when he was 16, so Bergen worked numerous jobs before being discovered by a famous ventriloquist.  Trained in the art, Bergen started performing on the vaudeville circuit, then in silent movies.  But he ultimately achieved stardom while working in radio.  

Looking back on the great success of a ventriloquist on radio, it seems a highly unusual thing.  It did then, too.  Bergen was on radio starting in 1936, then made the transition to television shortly after it became popular.  Bergen was not a great ventriloquist - the movement of his mouth was often visible when he performed - but he was an excellent comedian, and had the ability to create well-rounded characters.  Early listeners did not even believe that Charlie McCarthy was a dummy, let alone that he was voiced by Bergen.  The success of Bergen and his dummies cannot be questioned.  He had a decades spanning career that not only left millions of people laughing, but also left a legacy of other ventriloquists after him.
QUESTION:  Edgar Bergen had a child who has become famous in her own right.  What is her name?
A)  Edgar Rice Burroughs
B)  Candice Bergen
C)  Joseph McCarthy
D)  Mark Bergen

SLOWLY OPENING UP - For fifty-five years, the United States refused any sort of diplomatic relations with Cuba.  The revolution led by dictator Fidel Castro created a tension between the two countries that only recently began to be relaxed.  In fact, it was only last year, on this day, that President Obama finally made official American willingness to re-establish communication.  Soon, maybe trade will begin again.  Then who knows - cigars for everyone!

EVEN CANADIANS HAVE BIRTHDAYS! It is practically impossible to dislike our neighbors to the north, and how can we have anything but love for today's birthday boy - Eugene Levy! Turning 69 today, this very funny man was born in Hamilton, Ontario, only to receive early stardom with the televised sketch comedy show SCTV before hitting the big time with the American Pie movies.  In fact, Levy has the high honor of being the only actor to make an appearance in all eight films (so far), including four straight-to-dvd films.  Many happy returns of the day, Mr. Levy!

QUOTE:  I don't like to be fancy free. - Eugene Levy

ANSWER:  B)  Candice Bergen.  The model/actor starred in Murphy Brown as well as numerous other programs during her career, and was one of the first actors to appear on the long-running sketch comedy Saturday Night Live.