|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Abner Biberman|
|Written by||Rod Serling (Based on an unpublished story by Lee Polk.)|
|Original air date||May 4, 1962|
"The Dummy" is episode 98 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone starring Cliff Robertson as a ventriloquist. It is not to be confused with a similar episode Caesar and Me, in which Jackie Cooper plays a ventiloquist.
Mr. Serling's Opening Narration
|“||You're watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet 'Willy.' In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.||”|
The episode opens with ventriloquist Jerry Etherson (Cliff Robertson) and his dummy Willie in the middle of one of his acts, somewhere in New York City. After the act, Jerry goes back to his dressing room and begins to drink from a liquor bottle he'd hidden in a drawer. His agent, Frank, comes in and is upset that Jerry has resumed drinking. Jerry tells Frank that Willie is alive and frequently talks to him. When Jerry tells the agent that he is at the mercy of the dummy, Frank does not believe Jerry and thinks he might need psychiatric help.
Jerry decides that he is going to perform with a different dummy, "Goofy Goggles", for his next act (and all future acts) and locks Willie in a trunk. After the second act, which is not as successful as the ones with Willie, his agent tells him that he is quitting, but Jerry says he is leaving to go to Kansas City and try to get away from Willie. Frank tells him that it doesn't matter where he goes; he'll still have this delusion if he doesn't deal with it here and now. While he's standing outside the back door to the theater, he hears faint whispers of Willie's voice. Jerry sees the dummy's shadow and continues to hear his voice until a coworker from the theater walks up and asks if anything is wrong. Jerry invites her to get a drink, but does it nervously and eccentrically, thereby causing the woman to become frightened and run away.
As soon as she leaves, Jerry hears Willie's voice again and runs back into the theater. He goes into the dark dressing room, opens the trunk and throws the dummy on the floor, brutally smashing it. But when he turns on the light, he realizes that he destroyed the Goofy Goggles dummy that he was going to use in his future acts. He can't understand how he could have been mistaken. He sees Willie sitting on the couch, talking to him and laughing at him. Jerry asks how he can be real when he's made of wood, and Willie tells him that it was he, Jerry, who made him alive. Realizing the truth, Jerry lowers his head as Willie cackles crazily.
The scene cuts to a stage in Kansas City announcing that the next act will be "Jerry & Willie", and we see the beginning of the act from the back of the man who walked out. As the camera rotates to the front, it is revealed that the man is actually Willie, and he is holding a dummy that looks just like Jerry.
Mr. Serling's Closing Narration
|“||What's known in the parlance of the times as the old switcheroo, from boss to blockhead in a few uneasy lessons. And if you're given to nightclubbing on occasion, check this act. It's called Willy and Jerry, and they generally are booked into some of the clubs along the 'Gray Night Way' known as the Twilight Zone.||”|
The dummy used in this episode to portray "Willie" was originally created in the 1940s by puppetmaker Revello Petee. The same dummy was used later, in the 1964 Twilight Zone episode, "Caesar and Me." The actual original dummy which was used in both episodes had been housed in a private collection in Connecticut since the late 1970s, but now resides in David Copperfield's International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts in Las Vegas, NV, along with the Cliff Robertson dummy effigy which appears at the end of this episode. Both puppets were subject to a careful, preservative renovation by American artist and puppet restoration expert Alan Semok.
- The Great Gabbo (1929) feature film about a mad ventriloquist, starring Erich von Stroheim
- Dead of Night (1945) British horror film, "Ventriloquist's Dummy" sequence, starring Michael Redgrave
- Caesar and Me (1964) an episode of The Twilight Zone television series, starring Jackie Cooper
- Magic (1978) film starring Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret about a ventriloquist whose delusion leads him to commit murders at what he imagines to be the behest of his dummy, "Fats".
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0