tv Larry King Live CNN December 5, 2010 3:00am-4:00am EST
>> larry: tonight, the man of 100 voices, terry fator, he and his friends are headlining in las vegas, and now they're here. but don't paul them puppets. >> it's my christmas skirt, it's where i keep my christmas presents. >> larry: what you never knew about mickey mantle, from the woman who wrote the book on baseball's last boy, all next on "larry king live."
>> that was emma taylor and now i have a guy who claims to be the best elvis impersonator in the world, his name is maynard tomkins. now maynard, you told me earlier that you are the best envision impersonator. >> that's right, and i could -- yes, i am. >> what elvis songs do you know? >> actually i don't know any elvis songs at all. >> you don't know any elvis songs? >> i do know a christmas song, do you want to hear it? ♪ ♪ i'll have a blue christmas without you ♪ ♪ i'll be so blue ♪ just thinking about you ♪ decorations of red on a green
♪ >> actually, maynard, that is elvis. >> i guess i do know some elvis. s into the esophagus. prilosec otc uses a unique delayed-release system that protects the medicine as it passes through the stomach's tough acid. then it gets absorbed into the body, turning off many acid-producing pumps at the source. with just one pill a day, you get 24-hour heartburn protection all day and all night. prilosec otc. heartburn gone. power on.
incredible terry fator, the ventriloquist. he's here with one of his characters, emma. how did emma learn to sing like that? how did you learn to do that. >> a lot of practicing in the shower. i want to be the next taylor swift. >> the next taylor swift? >> yeah. >> good luck. >> larry: how did you come to do this? you, terry. >> when we were kids, i started when i was 10 years old doing ventriloquism, my parents had a janitorial business. when we were emptying trash and vacuuming floors, i figured it was a good-time to practice ventriloquism. >> i remember those days. >> you're not even that old. >> then i don't. >> she doesn't. >> larry: do you remember why at 10 you wanted to do voices without moving lips? that's a strange occupation.
>> i started doing magic when i was 8 and i thought being a imagine jigs was cool. i actually found a book at my school library on how to do ventriloquism. you're interested. >> oh, yeah, i have never heard this story. >> so i checked the book out, i started practicing with it. i found a puppet at sears, my mom paid for half and i paid for half. and i started doing shows for kids around school and my church and things like that. and i decided when i was about 13 or 14, that i wanted to be one of the top ventriloquists. >> larry: that was a goal?
>> i think when i was 15, i decided, i want to be known as one of the great ventriloquists? >> larry: who's your favorite ventriloquist? >> it was all about character and everything, and to become as a household name like edgar bergen did, that was the old. of course paul lewis and jerry nelson were big influences on me as well. i decided when i was 15 or 16, when people thought of ventriloquism, i wanted them to put my name up there. >> larry: and "america's got talent" is what did it for you? >> yeah. i was in my 40s. i was doing fairs, festivals, little small town stuff. in fact what was funny about it was, since i was a ventriloquist, they always looked at me as a kids act so they would put me next to a bunch of clouds. it was always the worst stage in the entire fair. and then i was playing schools and i would play a lot of elementary schools.
when i got close to about 40 years old, i thought to myself, i guess the whole thing of being rich and famous is a pipe dream. because nobody's ever going to want care about a 40-year-old ventriloquist. but yeah, just like everybody else, i went and stood in line with a bag full of hopes and dreams and hoping that something would happen. what i thought would happen is that i would get on "america's got talent." i would get on two or three episodes and then it would raise people's awareness of what i do. i never in a million years thought i would win it. i thought there was no chance in anything that a ventriloquist would win "america's got talent." i just said it's not going to happen. but my goal was to get on and do things that would make people say, you know, i want to see what he's going to do next week. so i opened with "at last" etta james.
i thought it was unusual for a guy to sing etta james without moving his lips. and then i had a whole plan, i was going to do tony bennett, dean martin, louie armstrong and kermit the frog. and i thought if i can get people to say i want to see what he's going to do next week and vote for me. >> larry: what did it for you? >> singing "crying" as roy orbison. the guy who came in second was a really great regge singer, and i would see youtube. my youtube only had like 100,000 hits. and his had over a million. so i thought this guy's going to win this thing, but i was happy, because i felt like i had done a million dollar performance. i felt like i had done a winning performance. >> larry: is maynard down there? >> yes. here is maynard. >> can you throw your voice? >> i can. >> how do you do it?
>> i'll do an echo. >> ladies and gentlemen. >> how do you do that? >> lets set maynard right here. >> is that larry king? >> that is larry king. >> i do not believe it. >> larry: who designs the puppets? i'm sorry, maynard. >> i'm not an atheist, i know somebody designed me. >> this guy was a guy that a guy that many, many years ago, probably, 15, 20 years ago, i decided i wanted to have an elvis impersonator in the show. i could do an elvis voice. so i called up a guy, clinton detweiler in colorado. he's kind of the uber ventriloquist.
he was the guy that ran a ventriloquist studio for years and years and years. >> larry: and he makes puppets? >> he makes puppets. and i called him up and said i need an elvis. i found out that i had to like own the rights to every single puppet. and i had this guy, and i had just bought him from clinton so i called him up and i said what do i do about this puppet? he said luckily, he's the only one i have ever sold. so i actually bought the rights from clinton -- it wasn't clinton, it was another guy up in -- i can't remember his name. but it was another guy. in -- i can't remember his name. but it was another guy. >> larry: so you own this? >> yes. >> yes. >> larry: do you feel like you're owned?
>> not at all, because i have a lot of fun and that's all. >> but i got this idea that it would be funny to have an elvis impersonator that didn't know any elvis songs. what he actually does in the show, he sings an aaron neville song and he doesn't know that it's aaron neville. >> larry: i hate to put you on the spot. do aaron neville. ♪ look at this face ♪ another year is showing ♪ look at this life ♪ i still don't know where it's going ♪ ♪ i don't know much ♪ but i know i love you >> so he does that in the show. >> larry: it's amazing. are there some people you can't do? >> i'm sure there are. i'm having a really difficult time with franke sinatra. but i'll get there. i just feel like if i work hard
enough on something, i can get there. but one of these days i'll do frank. >> larry: you also have a great voice. you sang the national anthem at yankee stadium. you're a singer in your own rite. >> i do a song and most people on tv don't realize i can sing. and it's true, because after the show, i'll go out and talk to people and meet them. and people would say, you sang that song, i didn't know that you could sing. well, i'm a ventriloquist and the puppets can sing. so i guess that's a sign of doing a good job. >> larry: you have every missed a performance? >> i have never missed a performance in 28 years, i think. >> larry: you have worked through laryngitis? >> i have the best doctor in the world. he works with mick jagger and axl rose. >> larry: from america's got
>> larry: we're back with the incredible terry fator, his new wife is with us as well, who's one of the features in the act. in fact we're going to see more puppets from the act. how did you and taylor hook up? >> she was my assistant in my show and when i became available, my sister actually became friends with her. and i thought there's no way ever that she could actually be interested in me. >> neither one of us ever thought about it at all. but then his sister hooked us up. >> larry: so you worked together before you fell in love? >> my sister said i think taylor would go out with you. i said no way.
she said i think you could ask her? and i said would you -- and before i even got it out, she said yes. >> we remember that story a little differently. >> larry: do you get tired of walking around a show place at night? >> not really. i'm a dancer, so i kind of miss dancing a little bit. but i'm so proud to be in his show. >> larry: we're going to meet some of the puppets you're going to be seeing him do. let's bring up walter t. airedale. this was terry's first puppet, right? >> it wasn't my very first, it was my first professional puppet. >> i tell you, i've been around here for a very long time. >> that's right, he has. my mother knew that i had made this commitment to myself to become one of the top
ventriloquists. and so she started saving when i was 15 and took three years and for my 18th birthday gave me walter. and it took years for me to create the character of walter and actually he was originally a political puppet. the reason his name is walter airedale is because it was when walter mondale was running against ronald reagan and i named him walter airedale. >> and i had an accent because it was walter mondale. >> so that's what he originally was. and i started a band in 1987 or '88 and it was a country band and i thought if i put a t. in walter airedale. and he can yodel. >> larry: go ahead yodel. what do you think of what he does? because you look at these puppets like it's a little weird, right? >> does he bring them home? >> he does not bring them home.
they stay at the mirage. >> this is a side of you i have never seen. >> they're so life like when he's puppeteering. >> larry: there's been a great movie, a horror movie. >> anthony hopkins. >> larry: the puppet lives the puppet kills and the puppet controls the master. you have never had that, have you? >> i try, but it just won't work. >> larry: walter will be back in a while and he'll sing. let's bring up winston. what's the history of winston.
>> i have a very interesting history. >> yes, he does. >> larry: please tell us. >> when i was doing "america's got talent." i had this "wonderful world" that i wanted to do. so i called up the muppets and i said would it be okay if i did kermit the frog and they said no. i felt like it was one of those impressions that would really get me through to the next level. so i'm sitting there thinking. i was racking my brain, i said i got to come up with an amphibian, and i came one a turtle. and i named him winston the impersonating turtle. i said is it okay if i do kermit's voice. they said you can do kermit's voice but not the actual kermit. >> larry: we'll see that in a little while. i know you're not a nut.
but do you ever start to really think of them -- >> no, not really. once the show is done, it's over. but there is -- they are an extension of my personality. they are an extension of me. i don't ever get lost, like who's who? but i definitely am funnier when i have a puppet on my hand. >> larry: as a standup? >> absolutely. and i think the reason is that i feel more free because when -- i'm a person who just -- i want everybody to have fun. i just want everybody to enjoy themselves. i don't want to hurt anybody's feelings or say something that might be offensive and so i have always got that filter going on in my head, whereas a puppet can get away with a lot more. so a puppet can say and do things that a person can't. so i think i'm just a little more free, my brain is a little more free. >> larry: how do you regard the muppets, because that's not ventriloquism?
>> without the muppets i would not be where i am. >> larry: why? >> because watching the muppets and "sesame street" showed me just how life like puppets can be. >> jim henson would never see the puppet in a box. he always would hide them, he would only show them when they perform. >> that's one thing that i'm really careful about. when i'm on stage, it's something i wish all venn rilo they -- they will to get a puppet and the puppet is dead until it gets to the microphone stand. that's not how it should be. >> larry: you wouldn't mutt your puppet up here and lie them
down. >> no. >> larry: let's meet the next puppet that will be in the act. vickie the cougar. why do you call her a cougar. >> what do you mean, don't i look like a cougar? >> larry: she's a flimsy, loose woman, isn't she? she's a vegas kind of broad. >> what is that supposed to mean? >> larry: i don't want to put you down. >> i call this my christmas skirt, it's where i keep my christmas presents. >> larry: how is the show doing? >> i think i'm the only show in vegas that does a christmas show. the day after halloween, we decorated our house. i love christmas. so i change the show, i do about half of it is christmas songs and christmas jokes and things. >> and of course we wear these christmas outfits, mmmm.
>> you're going to be singing a christmas song later. >> i am. >> larry: do you ever have the occasion, as you're going back and forth, where your voice goes into the puppet and the puppet voice goes into you? >> that does happen occasionally, sometimes something will happen where i'll actually say the wrong line. in fact on my dvd, there's a point where i'm doing michael jackson and i get the voices all mixed up. and we left it in. people tell me it's one of their favorite parts of the dvd in fact, is when the voices get all mixed up. >> larry: do you ever have any bad nights? >> the only bad night is when i'm sick and i don't feel well. but you asked me earlier about missing shows. i don't miss shows, there were times when they were holding a bucket backstage because i felt so bad. but they're bad shows for me, not for the audience because i just struggle through them. i'm one of those vaudevillian types, the show must go on. the people came to see that show
and i'm going to do that show no matter what. >> larry: you're very involved in charities. you recently headlined a veteran's program. >> our veterans work so hard to keep us free and they sacrifice so much and i just want to make sure they know we appreciate their sacrifices. >> larry: and it's an honor knowing you, i will tell the audience you're going to see one more set with him back on stage. you got lucky. >> and we are writing a tv show together. we're actually creating a television show that we're going to be pitching to the networks. so me and taylor, my wife.
♪ and i order another round of crown ♪ ♪ and everybody's getting down in this town ♪ ♪ ain't never going to be the same ♪ ♪ because i saddle up my horse and i ride into the city ♪ ♪ i make a lot of noise because the girls they are so pretty ♪ ♪ riding up and down broadway in my old study roy ♪ ♪ and the girls say save a horse ride a cowboy ♪ ♪ they said save a horse ride a cowboy ♪ >> walter t. airedale. >> in las vegas, of course, you need more adult humor, so i would like to introduce vickie the cougar. so vickie, you're going to do something?
>> if you haven't laid out your christmas list, ladies, here's a few ideas. ♪ santa baby just leave the sable under the tree ♪ ♪ i've been an awesome good girl ♪ ♪ so hurry down the chimney tonight ♪ ♪ think of all the fellas that i haven't kissed ♪ ♪ next year i could be just as good ♪ ♪ if you would check off my christmas list ♪ ♪ santa baby i want a yacht and really that's not a lot ♪
♪ i've been an angel all year ♪ santa baby ♪ so hurry down the chimney tonight ♪ ♪ hurry down the chimney tonight ♪ ♪ >> and the character that actually won "america's got talent" for me, winston is impersonating turtle. ♪ i can't see you loving nobody but you for all my life ♪ >> winston, that's a beautiful outfit. >> it's not an outfit, i really am santa claus. >> i'm assuming that since we have a christmas show at the mirage. >> it's called a very terry christmas. >> do you want to do a christmas song? >> i do. >> what do you want to do? >> i can't do it i have a frog in my throat.
♪ and your shining star above the highest bow ♪ ♪ and have yourself a merry little christmas now ♪ >> merry christmas. >> merry christmas. >> larry: thank you, man, what a show. he's at the mirage, he's incredible. we want to thank terry, his lovely wife and of course the great man himself, terry fator and his co-stars, walter and vickie and winston, you can see them at the mirage casino and resort in las vegas, terry fator. do my voice.
>> ventriloquism in concert. >> larry: for more information go to terry fator.com. jane levy, she's written the number two best seller in america, "the last play, the life of mickey mantle". recently a whole new kind of cloud came to st. cloud, minnesota. ask me what a cloud feels like... and here are the first real people to sleep on those brand new clouds. ask me what it feels like to be comforted by a cloud. a new tempur-cloud supreme... by tempur-pedic... ask me why we love our cloud... ask me how it's soft as a cloud... and still supports me. ask me why this is a million times better than my pillow-top. a pillow-top may look nice and puffy, but underneath are hard metal springs--- ask me why it's
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it's the last boy, mickey mantle and the end of america's childhood. i'm about a third of the way through it. what a read. why did you call it what you call it, the last boy? >> i have a picture that someone gave me for my 35th birthday, i'm not going to tell you how long ago that was, taken by a fabulous photographer. and it's mickey and billy and whitey in the dugout at shea stadium in the mid '70s. and mickey's sitting there in his pinstripes and it's gapping in the middle and he's making this sort of goofy jerry lewis kind of face and billy's of course egging him on and laughing and whitey's looking askance, and i looked at that, i look at the difference between his age chronologically and the way he was aping a kid, aping someone else on a playground. and i said, he's the last boy. and he was the last boy in a generation of boys, larry, i
think, who were treated as if, you know, boys got to do what boys got to do and boys will be boys and that's okay. like them anyway for whatever they do, it's okay not to know completely, what we do know, we'll forgive and the rules changed after him. >> larry: yeah, they did. all right in this age of cnns and espns and tabloidism, it's hard for the nonfan or the young person to realize, how big would mickey be now? how much of a press item would he be now? >> they would have to put a plaque out in the new monument park in yankee stadium that would be five times the one they did for steinbrenner. it's hard to imagine now what 536 home runs meant when he retired at the end of 1968. you know, those were -- he had
honest muscles and those were honest home runs. he was an unprecedented alloy of speed and power. i was in texas the other day and dr. bobby brown who of course played with him and later became president of the american league and a cardiologist said when mickey was young, before he got hurt in the '51 world series, when he ran, he kicked up tufts of dirt as high as his head, he ran so hard. and he was -- bobby brown actually told a story and i was mad at him for not telling me what i included in the book. in '52 he was in korea and he managed to get film of the '52 world series and he showed it to his guys. and they said lieutenant, lieutenant, run it back again. they said how did he run so hard? people couldn't believe he could run so hard. >> larry: but he was an alcoholic, he was a player, he could be very rude and very sweet.
would complex be a good word? >> far more so than people let on. you know, we like to think somebody's one or the other. either or. and so mickey in recent years has all these revelations of profane language and boorish and coarse behavior, and i saw the best and worst of him when i went to interview him for "the washington post" in '83. people think well that must be all there was to him. it wasn't. he was also -- and this is fascinating, a gentle soul. he was generous to a fault, he took in teammates like strays. jerry lumpy, the infielder when he was a rookie had no place to live, so mickey said here are the keys to my house in new jersey. his wife and sons had gone back home to oklahoma.
so jerry goes out there and he finds ten cashmere sports jackets in the master bedroom closet, mickey says take them too, and he did. >> larry: we'll be right back. >> larry: the great ones don't want to be paid? did you know prilosec otc can stop frequent heartburn before it begins? heartburn happens when stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus. prilosec otc uses a unique delayed-release system that protects the medicine as it passes through the stomach's tough acid.
then it gets absorbed into the body, turning off many acid-producing pumps at the source. with just one pill a day, you get 24-hour heartburn protection all day and all night. prilosec otc. heartburn gone. power on. >> larry: we'll be right back. >> larry: the great ones don't want to be paid? >> i was embarrassed.
like if i was on second base and somebody hit a single and i know i'm supposed to score and i couldn't score, or i couldn't go from first to third on a single, i don't know, it gets to you. >> larry: you had a -- he was a hero of yours as a child and you meet him and finally get to talk to him and he came on to you, right? >> i kind of feel that was almost pro forma, it was almost as if, well, i'm mickey mantle and that's what i'm supposed to do. i went to las vegas and he had been banned from baseball so mickey knew what was coming. and he had no other way to make a living, you know, reserve shortstops didn't make a gazillion dollars then, and when he retired, he was a $100,000 ballplayer and that was a big smear back then. but he needed a way to make a living and he needed it in part because his youngest son billy was dying of a disease that mickey always thought he would get, nonhodgkin's lymphoma and
so i go there and my parents had honeymooned at this hotel, december 25, 1941, the only night they could get a rabbi in the city of new york before my father shipped out. so i wait for mickey, he shows up a couple of hours late and he looked like he had had a long evening the night before and there were many of them. he sticks out his hand and i can't do the drawl too well. he said hi, i'm mick. i was like you had to have a guy in new york. mickey was my guy.
writers who wrote the book. >> what i know about his wife is the only thing she wanted to be was mrs. mickey mantle. she was a great saprano and had gaven up a scholarship to be mrs. mickey mantle. she called him my beloved. and her friends said she never gave up the hope they would live together under the same roof. it was a tormented marriage, and