On this day in comedy on September 8, 1940 Ventriloquist, Willie Tyler was born in Red Level, Alabama, 1940.
Raised in South East Detroit, Michigan Tyler got introduced to the public in 1972 on the NBC hit show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. From that launching pad Tyler and his dummy Lester have worked in practically every medium. If you could watch it or hear it – they did it.
In the 80s they were big. Every sitcom needed a ventriloquist and his dummy to guest star otherwise you just can’t call yourself a real sitcom. Willie Tyler & Lester got it in. They appeared in “The Parent “Hood, “What’s Happening Now!!”, and “The Jeffersons”. They’ve been pitchmen for McDonalds and Toyota. They did game shows: “The Match Game” and “Family Feud”. They did variety shows: “The Flip Wilson Show”, “The Staler Brothers Show” and “The Hollywood Palace”. They served as host of the Saturday morning children’s anthology series, “The ABC Weekend Special”. The duo even managed to squeeze films into their schedule. Willie without Lester appeared in “Coming Home” with Jon Voight in 1978. He was also in “For Da Love of Money”.
You name it – they were on it: “The White Shadow”, “Pacific Blue” and “Frank McKlusky. Willie was himself at the BET Comedy Awards in 2004 and the first ventriloquist to appear on the Late Night with David Letterman on Ventriloquist Week (who did you expect?)
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
Check out this clip: