Friday, March 22, 2019


[Photograph by Gordon Parks. From “Speaking of Pictures,” Life, September 29, 1952.]

The two-and-a-half-page “Speaking of Pictures” spread begins with an explanation, sort of: “Oswald, a baffling blabbermouth, has become television’s greatest what-is-it.” As Life tells it,

The 15 million fans who watch Ventriloquist Paul Winchell each week (NBC-TV, Mondays) have been both entertained and baffled by the bizarre creature shown above. Few have guessed what he is. They know him only as Oswald, a blowhard Briton who has done everything better than anyone else. To believe Oswald, it was he who taught Pinza to hold his high notes, Crosby to croon, Durante to be funny.
A lying narcissist with a big tie. But any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental.

As Ozwald, this character became the stuff of a “Play Set.” (Here’s the patent.) Ozwald wore a suit. And his tie was red. Such fun. But again, any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental.

[I think that Oswald won’t baffle most twenty-first-century types. But just in case: Oswald was played by Paul Winchell, whose chin was Oswald’s head. Thanks to Diane Schirf for the link to the patent.]

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