Terry Wayne Fator, world famous for using 15 different puppets in his act, first learned ventriloquism by reading the book “Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit” by the great Paul Winchell when he was just 10 years old. Here are some interesting facts about him:
Fator is a comedian who performs ventriloquism and impressionism, using 15 different puppets in his act.
He was born Terry Wayne Fator on June 10, 1965,in Dallas, Texas, to Jephtha Wesley Fator and Edith Marie Clifton.
He has an older brother Jephtha Jr. and a younger sister Deborah. By the age of six, he was able to memorized Bill Cosby comedy routines.
As a fifth grader he came upon a book about ventriloquism for his assignment to write on Valentine’s Day. A week later, he purchased a ‘Willie Talk’ dummy from the Sears catalog and the rest is history.
His career as a ventriloquist started when he won $ 25 prize for his performance at a church picnic. His mother who was his constant source of strength saved enough money to present him his first puppet when he was 18 years old.
He not only developed his ventriloquist ability, he also started impersonation’s of actors and singers in his childhood.
He discovered his impersonation’s of singer while driving his car. He started singing without moving his lips, to avoid being ridicules like other.
He was so obsessed with his impersonation of singers that he hated to sing in his own voice. His band was in verge of signing with major record label but he declined after trying his voice for few weeks.
His career took off in 1987 as singer with a band called ‘Freedom Jam’ and toured schools in US and Canada, performing three shows per day.
Fator became a lead singer in 1988 with a show band called ‘Texas the Band’ and his ventriloquist ‘sidekicks, ‘Walter T. Airedale, which became popular regular on the show.
His exercise of going solo with combining comedy and ventriloquism met with failure. He was offered a small stage at the back of fair, restricted to three shows during hottest part of the afternoon. He almost succumbed to heat stroke a couple of times.
The low point of his career and high point of frustration was when arrived at a 1000 seat capacity theatre with a lone customer. He contemplated alternate career but for his family, who encourage him to continue.
His life took a change for better in 2005, when he combined ventriloquism and impersonations. In one of his shows with his character sing Garth Brooks’ ‘Friends in Low Places’ and his audience went crazy.
He started performing at Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Neal McCoy and Styx band concerts as an opening act.
Although his reality show attempt was to get a slot in talk show, Fator turned down Letterman fourteen times after his success,before accommodating him.
On August 21, 2007, Fator won the 2007 NBC television reality show talent competition ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and with it he took home $ 1 million prize money. He was hailed as one of the top entertainer on the planet.
On June 19, 2007, Fator first auditioned for reality television show, essentially to gain popularity and never in his wildest dream did he ever imagine that he will win it.
When Fator came on the stage for his first audition, he lost all hope when the judge David Hasselhoff said, ‘Oh no a ventriloquist.’ Later judge Piers Morgan told him ‘You’re a great impersonator, a great singer and great comedian.
On October 14 & 15, 2007, He performed a show at the Las Vegas Hilton following his success at reality show. The rock legend Larry Norman was his guest of honor, who cherished his every moment as one of the most fun years in life.
On December 2007 he signed a contract for $ 1.5 million to perform three shows a month from January to May 2008. He also had a show on the eve of 2007 New Year at 6 pm.
In 2007, he became an official supporter of ‘Ronald McDonald House Charity’ to inspire people for charity work to improve the health of children and family across the world.
On May 13, 2008, Fator was hired to perform at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip for five years for reported $ 100 million. The Danny Gans theatre was renamed after him.
In 2008, he penned his autobiography ‘Who’s the Dummy Now.’ He had never imagined in his whole life, that he will ever write a book.
Fator had impersonated many celebrities with Michael Jackson and Walter T. Airdalepuppets have been regular figure. He has incorporated audience participation into his act with remote controlled mask.
The America’s Got Talent executive producer, Simon Cowell, said that Fator is the most successful reality show contestant in history and that he is more successful than all the American Idol winners combined.
On January 08, 1991, he married Melinda, whom he met during his band days. They have since been separated after a settlement was reached on November 2010.
Fator proposed to Angie Fiore on stage in front of his then second wife Taylor Makakoa. He married Fiore on September 04, 2015, after divorcing Makakoa.
He has been performing regularly for charities in support of Kids Sports Complex in Kalispell and for the benefit of families of miners in Huntington, Utah in 2007.
Fator has fought to be taken seriously as a ventriloquist. He is of the view, that with so many bad ventriloquists doing corny shows, people have begun to think of us as a bad joke.
On May 30, 2013, he has celebrated his 1000th show at ‘The Mirage Hotel & Casino.