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Cape pays hommage to ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson

By Staff | Oct 3, 2019

A beloved member of the community and internationally know star recently passed away in Cape Coral, leaving behind many fond, everlasting memories for those he met.

James “Jimmy” Nelson passed away at the age of 90 on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The Chicago native became interested in ventriloquism at the age of 9 after his Aunt Margaret gave him a dummy she won at bingo. After doing shows at clubs and schools, Nelson turned it into a career and became famous in the ’50s and ’70s.

Over his career “the dean of ventriloquists” had several appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and commercials for the Nestle Company with dummy Danny O’Day, who sang the Nestle Quik song and Farfel, the talking dog, who wound up the message with “Choc-litt” with a snap of the jaw.

In 1968 Nelson and his family moved to Cape Coral where he was active in the community.

“He was such a delight. I can just see his little cheeks. They were always smiling,” Cape Coral Historical Museum President Wendy Schroder said.

Her earliest memory was seeing him on television doing an ad for the First National Bank.

“I remembered him going into the bank all the time and remember seeing him there,” Schroder said.

She said they have many displays at the museum of Nelson, as he was so generous, giving them such items as Danny O’Day, photographs and literature.

“We have a display with Danny O’Day and a picture of him with his puppets. Every time I look at it I think of how he was such a nice man. We have so many interesting people in Cape Coral and to think he was one of them is a fond memory,” Schroder said.

Another memory was when Nelson attended one of their monthly meetings.

“He had a full house. I don’t think we ever had a full house. He just brought people together. People loved to see him,” she said.