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Thursday, November 27, 2008

THE COLONEL 'BILL BOLEY'

Bill was born Sept.9th 1935, in a house that was then 125 years old. He enjoyed playing in the house due to its tin roof and the sound that was created when it rained. The house was just outside of Sharon Groves, KY. His first taste of the life as a magician came when he witnessed first hand a Medicine man show selling snake oil that was making lots of money from the sales, but his eyes were on the magicians and their tricks. From that moment he wanted to do that too. The Boley's were a poor family, barely able to make ends meet, they had none of the modern facilities of plumbing or electricity, but Bill had a battery operated radio with which he would tune in to listen to Edgar Bergan.
He saw some kids in school getting attention with the girls, because of some magic they performed and he wanted to get some of that himself, so without being trained he spent countless hours till he finally learned to perform some of those tricks himself. Well after learning to do some tricks he finally sent away to a catalog company to order a catalog to but some tricks. The small allowence he was given for lunch was soon saved and Bill went without lunch to get those tricks. Picture this little boy going to his mail box planting himself on the grass till the mailman came with a package just for him. Then the day came when a man and a monkey character were performing on the street getting tons of laughs and not wanting to be left out, ordereded a monkey puppet out of the catalog. Bill put on the show whenever anyone would come to the house, his popularity grew due to his antics with his monkey puppet. Bill met and befriended a magician named Bill Harris who gave him an Abbotts Magic Co. catalog and some other magic magazines.

In one of those magazines was an Ad by W S Berger, Bill wrote him and soon they became fast friends. Bill soon joined the IBV and began receiving the Oracale, so Bill began to correspond with other Vents who were the same age as he was...
Soon Bill landed a job working in a hospital, getting married and lived in the rooms provided by the hospital, soon his wife got a job in the hospital as well, soon Bill began doing some schools, churches, banquets and parties with his magic...soon saving enough money he bought a TV and what do you think one of the first shows he watched? Right Paul Winchell. His wife bought him a Jerry Mahoney vent figure. Bill bought the Winchell book 'Ventriloquism for fun and profit". Bill took the lessons to heart and his practice became a daily routine in front of his mirror. Magic became another venue for him and soon he was spending part of his paycheck each week purchasing magic tricks, and he joined the Brotherhood of magicians. While perfecting his magic and vent he would enter talent contests and either come in first or second with his vent. One of the prizes was a stint on a TV show, which he was asked to become a regular. Soon it was time to get a figure somewhat larger then his Jerry Mahoney, he did, through the Maher Studios, his new figure had 8 movable features, his first Freddy. He got himserlf in the papers for a few different publicity stints such as running for Sheriff, joining the Lions Club, and yet another with Freddy holding his new born baby.

Hey wait Where's Freddy? Freddy was kidnapped, a publicity opportunity was presented him that of the kidnapping. Someone actually stole him and the case out of Bills car and left a ranson note. The wire service picked up on it, reaching papers as far away as New York, infact this story was on the front pages for a few weeks and the kidnappers got a change of heart and threw the case out of the car with Freddy inside in front of a radio station.

Soon Bill was wrestling professionally under the name Charvac in 1958-9, he continued working at the hospital at night and doing his magic and vent during the day.. In 1963 Bill and his first wife divorced and he remarried in 1964... A new theme park opened Kaintuck Territory and Bill got a position there in the summer while doing his school shows during the school season. He did some big name stars of country MC'ing on weekends.

1975 was the first year that Vent Haven Museum held its convention at the Drawbridge Hotel in Ft Mitchell KY and of course Bill was one of the many professionals to attend. 4 years later he was voted Ventriloquist of the year, he was approached by carnival cruise lines to perform for the lines and he excepted. It began with a 2 week stint, turning into a month, then 3 and finally 12 years, working the cooler months and the warmer months he did his schools and the theme park.

Another divorce came upon Bill and while he was performing on the cruise ship, he met and fell in love with Charlene. But she lived too far away for a romance so Bill thought it was over, done, till an agent landed him a job at the Iowa State Fair. The same state Charlene lived in, so while in Iowa, she got him a lot of gigs and that romance turned into marrage.

Soon with the aches he was getting in his feet Bill went to visit a doctor, he had some small growth trimmed away and went back to work, but when getting back home Charlene took him to the emergency room , gangrene had set in, so the doctor had to remove 1/3 Bills right foot. The next year and 1/2 Bill spent bed ridden. He was in a lot of pain and took a lot of medication. In the spring of 1997 he began having serious heart problems. He was very weak and had 4 serious blockages. While hospitalized he recorded what was to become his biography.

In October, Bill held his first annual Bill Boley Magic & Vent Event. The first event was very tiring on him. Bill did a community show to pay for the use of the recreation center which was his first show in a year and a half. Once again, Bill started performing and for the next 2 years despite a few set backs it looked like Bill was going to have some good years ahead of him.
In 2000 Bill's condition worsened. He again began having some heart problems and his strength just wasn't there. He still did a bit in his shop, but not like the previous years and Charlene said that he never talked about performing anymore.

In October, Bill hosted his 4th Annual Bill Boley Magic & Vent Event. He was weak, but rested up the day before so he could attend the night before dinner with everyone at the local Shoney's and be ready for Saturday. Bill had a great time and pruchased still more stuff for his collection. Sunday morning everyone was invited to come to his home to visit the shop and see the Dummyden.

Bill was back in the hospital for the last time on December 11, 2000 and passed away on December 17, 2000 at 8:30 in the morning. Bill Boley was laid to rest on December 20, 2000 at the Green Hill Memorial Gardens in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

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