Tribute to My Father, Jimmy Nelson

In the 1950's and 1960's, Saturday
mornings were spent watching programs on your black and white
television, and that would be your earliest memory of Jimmy Nelson. He and his puppets, Danny O'Day and Farfel the dog, made the jingle--"N-E-S-T-L-E-S, NESTLES MAKES THE VERY BEST"... and Farfel would sing ..."Chawwclate!"

That's exactly how Jimmy Nelson sang his audition for the commercial, but his hand was sweaty because he was nervous...and that caused Farfel's mouth to snap shut! He thought that ended the audition on a bad note, but the executives loved it and kept it in the commercial! It became Farfel's trademark...all from a sweaty hand!

The commercials ran from 1955 to 1965, but Jimmy and his 'Friends' have done a few more commercials for NESTLES since then. He still does perform that commercial at personal appearances because EVERYBODY wants to hear it!

Jimmy Nelson's 'Friends' started with Danny O'Day who was built in 1945 by renowned ventriloquism figure maker, Frank Marshall. Danny O'Day's predecessor was a doll called 'Dummy Dan' that he received when he was 10 years old at Christmas from his Aunt. She had won it at a bingo game, and since she didn't want it, she gave it to Jimmy! That's how it all started!

Eventually he started working in Chicago, after honing his skills while he was performing in the school he attended. The jobs didn't pay, but the amateur contests he kept winning did! He was only in his teens, but his talent was maturing fast, so he went to the man who had made Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy. Once Frank Marshall saw Jimmy's act, he was impressed and agreed to make him a professional Danny ventrioloquism figure. It was quite an honor to have Frank Marshall make a figure for you. Jimmy still works with his original Danny O'Day figure.

Humphrey Higsbye came two years
after Danny O'Day when Frank said he could not carve two figures exactly alike. So Jimmy added another character to the act. Then Farfel became part of the family in 1950 when Jimmy was joking around with a stuffed dog lying about on the piano in one of the clubs. He used a voice that made people laugh and one thing led to another, and next thing you know...Farfel was famous!

Jimmy's first televsion appearance was September 1950 on the Ed Sullivan Show! He performed his famous smoking routine with Danny O'Day, and he was quite a hit. In fact, Ed Sullivan said Jimmy Nelson was "the greatest I've ever seen in his field." He appeared on the show for years to follow. He and his 'friends' would also be a part of the Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, and then of course, their association with NESTLES.

By 1960, Jimmy was seen 5 days a week on the Studio 99 1/2 in the Tri-state area, in association with Channel 13 Newark, NJ. It was a live show and he added several hand puppets which meant he was doing 13 voices!

Jimmy Nelson still performs today for elementary schools throughout the state of Florida, teaching children about the danger of smoking cigarettes through his Jimmy Nelson's Anti-Smoking Performances.

[Above article based on JIMMY NELSON: N-E-L-S-O-N...Nelson Makes the Very Best...Warm Memories of Danny O'Day, Farfel & Chaaawwwwclate by J.C. Johnson/Comedy Profiles Editor TalkingComedy.com Vol.4/No.2. ALL VENT Issue 2005. Laughters LEGEND section...]

Jimmy Nelson
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