A Spanish ventriloquist with lightning speed and flawless comedic timing, often having two or even three characters present in his act at once, was born Wenceslao Moreno in 1896 (he died just one day before his 103rd birthday in 1999).
He most famous puppets were Johnny Martin, who was a little puppet body with a derived from Wences’ own bare hand; a comical face was drawn onto the hand with marker and lipstick; and Pedro, a head in a box who came to be as a result of Wences being forced to suddenly invent the character when his regular, full-sized dummy was destroyed during a train accident en route to a performance.
Wences was famous internationally for many years, but truly gained a following in America when he appeared on variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and a memorable appearance on The Muppet Show.
He often built to a big finish in his act with juggling and plate spinning while his characters heckled him from their boxes and cases or from under a table. Wences was able to throw his voice with such speed and agility it was hard to believe he was the only being actually occupying the stage.
Here is one of those Ed Sullivan performances: