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Ventriloquist's figure
  • Ventriloquist's figure
    Wells, Sandra, born 1906 - died 1992
  • Enlarge image

Ventriloquist's figure

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1940 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wells, Sandra, born 1906 - died 1992 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Felt and cotton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ventriloquism was a popular form of Variety act, especially in the mid 20th century, and these dolls are unusual in being part of an act of a female ventriloquist, Sandra Wells, who began her career as Joy Wilby, performing a touring song and dance act. During World War II she performed with ENSA, playing xylophone and saxophone to the troops in England, and after D-day in Germany. She adopted the stage name Sandra Wells after the war, and as such became one of the very few successful female ventriloquists, developing an original act with her vent doll Horace Higgins, and her glove puppets Ernie and Elsie.

In the 1950s and 1960s she specialised in pantomime, as a pantomime cat, appearing amongst others with Richard Hearne ('Mr. Pastry'), Bud Flanagan and Tommy Trinder.

Physical description

The body of Ernie is double sided, with one side dressed in a casual suit and the reverse in a formal suit in the style of a bridegroom. The casual suit consists of a mint green blazer with three buttons on the front and a red jumper underneath. The trousers are of grey felt. The formal suit consists of a double-breasted blazer with a white shirt underneath and a black and white striped tie. He wears a cloth flower in his lapel which has white petals.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1940 (made)


Wells, Sandra, born 1906 - died 1992 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Felt and cotton


Height: 60.0 cm, Width: 32.0 cm

Descriptive line

Vent doll Ernie used by the ventriloquist Sandra Wells (1906-1992) as part of her double act Ernie and Elsie. Felt and cotton, ca.1940.


Felt; Cotton (textile)




Entertainment & Leisure; Dolls & Toys; Ventriloquism


Theatre and Performance Collection

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