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Vent Haven Museum

Home  William S. Berger   ConVENTion  Multimedia Featured Figures FAQ

Featured Figure:

Figure of the Month

Created by: Ramme

Used by: Charlotte Bern-Keller

1. Max is a 36 inch tall standing figure, originally owned and used by a professional, female ventriloquist from Germany named Charlotte Bern-Keller.
2. Max has a number of controls: His eyebrows lift, he hold and smokes a cigarette, he cries, smiles, nods, winks, rolls his eyes, and he can move his right arm and leg.
3. Max joined Vent Haven in January of 1954, when Vent Haven founder W.S. Berger purchased the figure from Bern-Keller.
4. In correspondence between Berger and Bern-Keller, the latter shared this unusual tidbit: "Before appearing on the stage with Charlotte Bern 'Max' usually received a regular 'make up' like a human being, I liked this better than the usual painted and lacquered face. I used stage face powder and coloring and ordinary rouge."
5. A letter from the United States Bureau of Customs dated January 11, 1954 is included in Max's file. The letter states that shipment of the figure to 33 West Maple Street (Vent Haven's address) was being delayed due to problems with the package. Specifically, there were two problems: 1) The package had been damaged in transit from Germany, and 2) "This office differs with your classification of the dummy in question as 'paper mache.' The letter goes on to state that the description is inadequate as the figure also includes glass and wooden parts.
6. In a letter dated January 29 of 1954, Berger wrote to Bern-Keller: "Finally Max arrived. He was tossed around a great deal in his journey...There was a lot of red tape." He also told this story about convincing the U.S. Customs Office to release Max to him: "I had to have a nice audience and had to give them my first demonstration with Max. He did speak a few words in German to a man in the crowd that understood the German language, and then Max spoke in English, he is a pretty good smart boy." Berger went on to say that Max was (in 1954) on display in the dining room of Berger's house.
7. Today Max is on display in Building Two of the Museum but is not visible in any of the Quicktime Virtual pans.

Do you have additional information about this figure? Do you have a suggestion for a future Figure of the Month? Is there a figure maker whose work you would like to see featured? Let us know by emailing the Vent Haven staff.

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