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Monday, October 6, 2008


Rickie Layne, a ventriloquist who frequently appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with his Yiddish-accented dummy Velvel, was discovered by singer Nat 'King'Cole in 1955 at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip and urged Sullivan to put the act on his popular Sunday night variety show, with a promise that should he flop Nat would appear for nothing, not only didn't he flop he became Ed's Favorite Ventriloquist, sometimes even getting into his act. Rickie was a Borscht Belt Ventriloquist who became popular due to the many television appearances he made. A typical routine would go something like this:"The bull charges ... and then you take out your espada." [The matador's killing sword].
"My what?"
"You take out your espada."
After much consternation, Velvel says, "So I take out my espada in front of 10,000 people. What do I do with my espada?"
"You wave it over your head."
"Evidently, you haven't seen my espada."
Rickie came from an entertainment family, his uncle bought him his first Dummy at the age of 9 and worked the Borscht Belt and waited tables afterwards he joined Major Bowes Traveling Amatuer, during WW 2, he was in the Army Entertainment Unit. When the war ended he toured with Bagels and Yox and the Borscht Capades. He soon moved to Calif and was seen by Nat KIng Cole as they say the rest was History. Velvel called Ed Sullivan 'Mr. Solomon'. Through the air time he got he also got better venues, such as the Copa in NYC, The Fountainbleu in Miami and the Orpheum in LA
"I did a gag with the dummy where he had a mustache. I'd say, 'You're just jealous because your mustache is bigger than mine,' and Velvel would answer, 'Anything I have is bigger than yours.'" He still had the old magic.

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