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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 Elsie is double sided with one side a casual dress and the reverse a wedding dress so she may appear as a bride. The casual dress is blue felt covered with a cotton floral apron. Her wedding dress is white cotton and attached to the bodice is white lace which in turn is attached to a metal band which could then act as a veil. The dress also has pale pink fabric flowers attached to the left hand side.

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 Elsie 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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