Vent Haven to display presidential "dummies" at September 18, open house

Vent Haven to display presidential "dummies" at September 18, open house (WKRC)

FORT MITCHELL, Ky. (WKRC) - Vent Haven Museum curator Lisa Sweasy can’t sit at her dining room table.

Every seat is occupied by a ventriloquist’s dummy of a former U.S. President. Kennedy and Johnson share a chair at one end of the table. They seem to be staring down Ronald Reagan who is at the opposite end.

“Aren’t they great,” Sweasy said while leaning on the chair holding a Richard Nixon dummy. ”This is a phenomenal donation that we just got last week. It was donated by Jim Teter who used them for decades.”

Teter, who retired in 2012, donated his collection to Vent Haven to keep the wooden heads of state together. Teter has performed on the Tonight Show, with Steve Allen and opened for John Davidson the night of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. His presidential routine was the heart and soul of his act. It started in early 1963, when he had an art student at Oklahoma State University make him a John F. Kennedy dummy.

“Kennedy would come out after his act and critique it,” Sweasy said. “It got a lot of laughs so it continued.”

Teter made a Lyndon Johnson dummy with a mold he crafted from a Halloween mask. The figures from Nixon through George W. Bush were all made by professional artist John Butler.

Teter’s donation takes Vent Haven’s collection to 900 dummies.

The public can see the entire collection, including the presidential dummies, during an open house September 18. The museum, which is closed from October to May, will be open, free to the public from 2pm-5pm that day.

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