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Keith Harris
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Ventriloquist
    (September 21, 1947-April 28, 2015)
    Born in Lyndhurst, England, United Kingdom
    Best known puppets were Orville the Duck and Cuddles the Monkey
    Hosted 'The Keith Harris Show' (1982-90) and 'The Quack Chat Show' (1989-90)
    Recorded the single 'Orville's Song' (1982)
    'Orville's Song' was a perennial on British 'worst records' lists, clocking in at #2 in a survey of songwriters by Q magazine (2003) and #11 in a viewer's poll by Channel 4 (2004).
    He claimed his dyslexia cost him £7 million over his career from signing contracts he couldn't read.
    He was married four times, divorced three times.
    After his TV shows were cancelled, he began drinking heavily and became so depressed he considered drowning himself in the duck pond near his home in Blackpool.
    His license was suspended for two years after he was busted for DUI.
    He went bankrupt when clubs he opened in Blackpool and Portugal failed.
    When he was compared to fellow English puppeteer Rod Hull, he snapped, 'He was never a ventriloquist. Ventriloquism is an art.... People don't appreciate the cleverness of it.'
    He complained that no one wanted him to do anything but his ventriloquist act: 'I can't say [Orville] has been a burden, but he put me in a pigeon-hole.'
    Asked about the reputation of 'Orville's Song,' he noted, 'I got a house in Portugal out of it, so what do I care?'
    He performed in five Royal Variety Shows.
    He was personally asked by Princess Diana to entertain at the third birthday parties of Princes William and Harry.
    He made a comeback in pantomime and owned his own pantomime company.
    He and Orville became a hit on college campuses with the adult-themed show 'Duck Off.'
    He and Orville were joint winners on the reality TV show 'The Farm.' (2005)

Credit: C. Fishel


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