Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy

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Ventriloquist Extraordinaire 

It was on April 17, 1975 that I saw and heard my favorite comedian, Edgar Bergen, with of course Charlie McCarthy. With Edgar Bergen you got four for the price of one. That is you not only got Edgar but Charlie, Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker. What a bargain! 

He was playing at the old Centre Stage Playhouse on Second Street in Downtown Milwaukee. I don’t remember what we had to eat, however I do remember that during the intermission Edgar came down from the stage and sat at a table a short distance from our table. I got up my nerve and walked over to the table where he sat and asked for an autograph and also Charlie’s. He very graciously did as I asked.

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In the following days The Milwaukee Journal’s reporter wrote about the show and I quote “Charlie Thinks Bergen Needs New Body, Too.” The reporter questioned Charlie instead and this is what follows: 

Q.  How do you feel about coming back? 

A. You reporters are so nosey. 

Q. You’re 52, aren’t you? 

A. You’ve been doing some research. Bergen’s been palming me off as 11 by feeding me brandy and dwarfing me. 

Q. How many bodies have you had? 

A. I am the original. Of course, Bergen has sneaked in a couple of other jerks without any talent in the act. Do you know where we can get another body for Bergen? 

Q. How many heads have you? 

A. Four, the others are special faces for sea sickness, sleepiness, and anger. Bergen calls ‘em stand-ins, I call ‘em trash         

Q. Do you feel 52? 

A. No, I feel 60. 

Q. Do you notice Bergen getting older? 

A. He’s slipping something awful. But even when he was good, he wasn’t too good.  

Q. What are you made of? 

A. I used to be all wood, but my legs and arms are now sponge plastic. Even so, the airline this trip charged Bergen $5 a case extra and he’s mad. 

Q. Isn't it lonely going on the road? 

A. I just have to suffer. But Bergen will line up something 

Q. Any memories of W. C. Fields? 

A. He drank, but was always sober enough to work, Bergen did the eulogy at his funeral. Actually, he was the softest hardboiled egg I ever met. 

That was the interview with Charlie McCarthy. 

As you know, Edgar Bergen started in Chicago where he began his vaudeville career. In 1931 he made two short films that just played on TCM recently and while Edgar looks a great deal younger, Charlie looked a bit different as he did not have his top hat and tails that had been seen for most of the time, but the jokes were just as funny as for most of Bergen's career. 

It was in 1936 on the Rudy Vallee Radio Hour that Edgar Bergen began his long career on radio. When Rudy mentioned to a network official that he was putting on a ventriloquist, the official said to Rudy, “He had better be damn good”. Guess what, he was and then some.  

It was on September 30th, 1978, while working in Las Vegas, Nevada that he died at the age of 75, doing what he wanted to do , that is work on a stage with his best friend “Charlie”.

Edgar Bergen

Born: February 16, 1903; Chicago,Illinois

Died: September 30, 1978; Las Vegas, Nevada of kidney disease

Charlie McCarthy

Born: July 18, 1920, Chicago, Illinois

Died: September 30, 1978; Las Vegas, Nevada due to death of Edgar Berge