In the heart of Miami, Florida, Tonya Traylor has been collecting ventriloquist figures for over a decade. During that time, she has amassed one of the world’s largest collections of professional ventriloquist figures, puppets, and marionettes, along with the history that goes with them.
“The collection is filled with time capsules of a time gone bye. One of the unique features of this collection is that we have in our care the full acts of several famous vents and their history. Their stories are the most important part of our collection, and it’s our goal to preserve and share them. We truly want to ignite a passion in others, and we believe experiencing the collection is the way to do that.” Said Tonya.
The family is working on a permanent home and a traveling exhibition for the collection. The educational outreach of the collection is endless and only limited by the amount of funds we have access to. We are constantly searching for new acquisitions, and various parts of the collection have been exhibited in galleries and shows in the USA and the UAE.
The collection contains figures from all over the world, dating as far back as the mid 1700s. There are figures used by Ernest Castro to perform for a young Prince Charles under Royal command, figures used for early TV shows, present-day commercials, and everything in-between.
The collection is Exciting! The stories are Unbelievable! The history... Unforgettable! There are over 90 figures that were made and performed by the famous puppeteer “Dorothy Rankin” along with her biography, show music and slides. Figures and history from 1800s Ventriloquist W. E. Whittle, The whole act and history of Jack Beckitt, Harry Bowes, Billy Davis and so many others.
Tonya Traylor is a genuine oddity, as there are almost no African American female ventriloquists, let alone ventriloquist collectors! Ms. Traylor first became obsessed with ventriloquism, and the history of ventriloquists of the past, when she was exposed to Willie Tyler on a Lola Falana special. The young Tonya dreamed of being Lola with her own Vegas show. From this fascination, the collection was born.
But the collection doesn’t just stop with Tonya. Her son Leonard J. Moore II is also a ventriloquist as well as a professional actor. Together Tonya and Leonard have been the puppeteers for over 30 Tobacco Free Florida commercials in a campaign that lasted well over 4 years! Both Pops and TJ (shown on TV as ‘Big Tobacco Executives’) can be seen in the collection.
Leonard stated, “We are now in a digital world which gives us a chance to reach a mainstream audience. We are currently working on several books in different editing stages and an online gallery / database to reach worlds of people. We hope to educate and inspire.”
While Tonya had this to say, “Our love and passion for this art is apparent in all that we do, and we have invested worlds of time and all of our funds into preserving and sharing this passion for the art, and now we are at the point where we need help to bring the dream to fruition.”
This Go-Fund-Me campaign is to establish a permanent residence / venue in which to display the overwhelming collection for the public and a traveling exhibit, as well as to cover the cost of preservation, acquisition, and storage of the massive collection of over 500 figures, plus marionettes, puppets, and automatons.
“The Collection was built on passion, and that passion has now grown into a full museum that is ready to be shared with the world. No one deserves to be forgotten. Which is why our motto is: ‘Preserving History One Figure at a Time.'” - Tonya Traylor
Please Join Us as we work to preserve the history of those who dedicated their lives to making people smile.
Please share and donate (if you are in a position to do so). Anything would be greatly appreciated! ❤️