Jimmy Nelson, Star of the Golden Age of Ventriloquism, Dies at 90


In 1968, as ventriloquism’s heyday was fading, Mr. Nelson and his wife, a singer, moved to Florida. While still performing, he also spent about 15 years as a spokesman for a local bank, starring in commercials that sometimes featured his daughter Elizabeth as well as Danny and Farfel.

He announced his retirement from performing in 2014. In a letter that year to the International Ventriloquist Society he wrote: “Danny & Farfel are protesting but I just close the suitcase cover and listen to their muffled, ‘Let me out of here.’”

In addition to his wife and his daughter Elizabeth Chambers, he is survived by two other daughters, Marianne Taylor and Jane Nelson; three sons, Leejay, Larry and Jerry; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His marriage to Margot Humphries ended in divorce.

Mr. Nelson’s Nestlé’s Quik commercials used benign humor to sell the popular chocolate mix. Danny played various roles, including astronaut, football player and racecar driver.

In one of them, for example, Danny lies woozy on a table after being knocked out in a boxing match.

“Oh, oh, Quik, I should have had more Quik,” he says, sounding delirious.

After Jimmy, as his trainer, mixes Quik into a glass of milk, Danny revives and says: “Step aside, Dad. Quik. Get Quik. It tastes like a million. Let me at ’em.”

“The fight’s over,” Jimmy says.

“Really,” Danny responds. “Who won?”

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