Farfel the Dog
In 1950, while working a late show in a Wichita, Kansas nightclub with his human dummy Danny O'Day, ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson picked up a stuffed dog left by a patron on the piano, and improvised a low-pitched voice to make it talk. This gave him the idea for a new character which he commissioned from Chicago dummy maker Frank Marshall. Nelson named it Farfel, after the Jewish pasta dish he had seen on the menu of resorts in the Borscht Belt on his tour route. Farfel was an instant hit, and contributed to the rise in Nelson's popularity as he began to transition from live performance touring to television.
Beginning in 1955, Farfel sang the last word of the Nestlé's jingle, after the first two lines sung by Nelson's human dummy Danny O'Day:
Danny: "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé's makes the very best...
At the end, Farfel's mouth would close with a distinctive clap, uncharacteristic of proper ventriloquist's technique. The sound was the result of Nelson's nervousness at his audition for the Nestlé executives; his hands sweated, resulting in his finger slipping off of the mouth control. The executives liked the effect so much, they insisted Nelson keep it in. The commercials ran for ten years from 1955 to 1965. Farfel made a brief comeback in the mid-1990s for a Nestlé's candy Christmas promo, with a send-in offer for a stuffed Farfel doll.
Other potential appearances
In an episode of Seinfeld, entitled "The Dog", Farfel was also the name of the dog that Jerry ends up "dogsitting" after the dog's owner suffers a heart attack while sitting next to Jerry on an airplane.
- Mason, Taylor (2010). "Ventriloquism in the 20th Century". The Complete Idiot's Guide was to Ventriloquism. ALPHA. ISBN 978-1615640003.
- Clark, Earl W; Singer, Allen J (2010). Beverly Hills Country Club. Arcadia Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 978-0738566191.
- Cantor, Fred; Davison, Debra L (2011). Fresh Meadows. Arcadia Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 978-0738575728.
- Kancigor, Judy Bart (2007). Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family. Workman Publishing Company. p. 311. ISBN 978-0761135814.
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