3. Ally Sloper Ven­tril­o­quist’s Dummy, c. 1890s

Comic Heroes - - Feature -

All but for­got­ten now, the bul­bous-nosed Cock­ney scoundrel was the Spi­der-Man of his day, star of the world’s big­gest-sell­ing comic, Ally Sloper’s Half-Hol­i­day, shift­ing up to half a mil­lion copies a week. His multi-me­dia crossovers in­cluded two of the ear­li­est Bri­tish live-ac­tion films in 1898 (sadly lost), masses of mer­chan­dise, much of it unau­tho­rised, pop­u­lar songs and mu­sic hall ap­pear­ances by com­edy im­per­son­ators. An­other pop­u­lar spin-off was the ven­tril­o­quist Pro­fes­sor Nomis, stage name of Si­mon Cross, who op­er­ated this three-quar­ter life-size dummy, a mir­a­cle that such a frag­ile rar­ity has sur­vived.

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