Bill Demar: Master of Sight and Sound

Just a few notes on ventriloquist Bill Demar (William Delmar Crowe, 1931-2015), known affectionately to many as “Uncle Bill”. Demar is best known to the world at large, believe it or not, for his testimony regarding the JFK assassination. He was scheduled to perform at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club the night of November 22, 1963. The show of course was canceled. Two days later Dan Rather intervewed him at length on national TV about Ruby, in the wake of the latter’s murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Within the ventriloquism community, Demar might be best known for originating the gimmick of making dummies talk with masking tape over the vent’s mouth, Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Demar started out with the U.S. Army’s Special Services Unit, and played night clubs, burlesque, private functions and schools throughout his long career. He worked as a comedian, emcee, and second sight man in addition to performing ventriloquism. His one movie is a nudie cutie called Naughty Dallas (1964). His books include Ventriloquism and Related Subjects, and Ventriloquism for Dummies, and he produced five instructional videos from 2000 to 2012, available here. Youtube has many videos of him of him performing his act in later years.

For more on the history of the variety arts, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous