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|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|Written by||Rod Serling (Based on an unpublished story by Lee Polk.)|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 ventriloquist.
|“||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 'Willie.' 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.||”|
Ventriloquist Jerry Etherson (Cliff Robertson) is performing an act with his dummy Willie in a small club in New York City. At the end of the act, Willie seems to bite Jerry's hand, and after he goes back to his dressing room he finds teeth marks on his finger. He 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, as he has numerous times before, that Willie is alive. Frank does not believe Jerry and has already pushed him into getting psychiatric help. Jerry is convinced that further psychiatric sessions would be redundant and that the only solution is to get rid of Willie and perform with a different dummy, "Goofy Goggles", from now on. He quickly comes up with new material for Goofy Goggles and locks Willie in a trunk.
After the second act, Jerry refuses to comply with the owner's wish that he and his dummy mingle with the audience. His agent considers this the last straw and quits, saying that Jerry's behavior, in particular what he sees as his delusional belief that Willie is alive, are keeping him from being a star. Jerry tells Frank he is leaving for Kansas City to get away from Willie. After leaving the theater, Jerry hears Willie's voice following him wherever he goes, and sees his shadow on a wall. No one else can hear Willie, apparently confirming Frank's belief that Jerry is suffering from delusional fear.
Jerry runs back into the theater. He goes into the dark dressing room, opens the trunk, throws the dummy on the floor, and smashes it. But when he turns on the light, he realizes that he destroyed the Goofy Goggles dummy. He can't understand how he could have been mistaken. He then sees Willie sitting on the couch, talking to him and laughing at him. 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 man in Kansas City announcing the next act, "Jerry & Willie". The ventriloquist is actually Willie, and he is holding Jerry, who has been turned into a dummy.
|“||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 Willie 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, 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) a season 5 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