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Comedy Ventriloquist

Some history of Howie Olson and Cowboy Eddie from Madison, Wisconsin WISC-TV Circus 3 Kids Entertaiment

Florida Children's Party Magician

Cowboy Eddie Ventriloquist Figure Used by Howie Olson

This is Cowboy Eddie, woodern carved figure used by Howard Olson aka The Great Chesterfield, then by his son Howie Olson aka Chet, then by me, Jacki Manna.  He was carved by the Mack Brothers, furniture makers, in 1910 and then refurbished by Ray Guyll circa 1998. Keep reading for his history and my story. 

READ more about Howie Olson and Circus 3

Watch more VIDEOS of Cowboy Eddie

Orlando Children's Party Entertainment

Verna Finley, a world reknown soft figure maker, created this vent puppet circa 1992 and was made to resemble Howie  Olson.  Watch her make a puppet here:


Now Mary Ann Taylor has taken over puppet making and soft figure creations for ventriloquists.



Orlando Face Painter

I started in Show Business just because I showed some kindness to an 80 year old man on the cruise ship where I was working.  Later, I discovered he was a famous ventriloquist, magician, and wooden figure carver.  In addition, he was a well known radio and TV personality. Howie Olson became my mentor in 1989.

Howie Olson was an entertainer all his life.  He started playing Vaudeville in 1915 at the age of 5 with his father, The Great Chesterfield, who was a ventriloquist with a wooden figure possibly named Reddy.  Reddy would soon become Cowboy Eddie with a new owner, Howie.

Cowboy Eddie was carved in 1910 by the famous Mack Brothers, Theo and Charlie, in Chicago.  They were the same ones who carved Edgar Bergan's Charlie McCarthy.

photo:  The Great Chesterfield and Eddie, aka Reddy, on his right circa 1910.

Orlando Children's Parties Balloon Twisting

Howie Olson and Cowboy Eddie toured the United States playing the piano and doing their act in speakeasies and the like during the 20's and 30's. When WWII broke out, the two of them entertained the troops in the Air Force. 

After the war, his new bride, Vera Hammersly Olson, a renowned bass violinist, and Howie planted their feet in Houston, Texas where Howie starred in a radio show and then a sponsored children's TV show called Phenix Phil. Vera was head script writer. 

photo:  Howie Olson and Phenix Phil circa 1955.

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In the sixties Howie and Vera moved back to Madison, Wisconsin, Vera's hometown.  Howie and Cowboy Eddie went on to star in a live audience children's TV show called Circus 3 on WISC-TV Madison.  It ran for 11 years from 1961-1972.

Howie ran the Vent-O-Rama for 35 years at

Abbott's Magic Get-Together in Colon, Michigan, 

the Magic Capital of the World.  

I won the originality trophy.  

He and his father were key attendees at the TAOM Texas Association of Magicians.

photo:  Howie Olson and Cowboy Eddie on set at WISC-TV Circus 3 circa 1965.

Orlando Children's Puppet Shows

Howie literally saved my life. I ended up in a new city, Orlando,  not knowing anyone and I needed to feed my kids. So I got my puppets and magic and everything he taught me and did show after show after show. I'm still doing show after show after show. And like they say, the rest is history!

Starting as a comedy ventriloquist in Orlando, and I learned to entertain kids in Florida by being a children's birthday party magician, a clown for parties near Orlando, doing face painting for hire at all kinds of events, doing puppet shows at preschools, and being a balloon twister for festivals and fairs. It is a fun ride, and I am grateful to have met Howie Olson.

photo: There's no business like show business, TV interview.

Florida Children's Birthday Party Entertainment

Fun facts about me:  

  • I am an Iowan,

  • put myself through college at The University of Iowa by teaching swimming lessons in my parents' backyard pool,

  • got a degree in French and Economics,

  • lived and worked in Montpellier and Bordeaux, France,

  • worked on several cruise ships (the SS Norway was my favorite),

  • taught French and Math at Oviedo High,

  • Math at Sanford Middle,

  • 3rd grade French in the French Academy at Hillcrest Foreign Language Magnet School,

  • have two grandchildren,

  • a flock of hens,

  • like boating and camping and reading the Classics.

photo:  Definitely not keeping my lips still.

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