children's program featured Judy Splinters, a
cowgirl dummy who wore a cowgirl hat with chin
strap, pig tails with bows, plaid shirt and
western jeans. Shirley Dinsdale, the 21-year-old
ventriloquist, who operated Judy, wore a
complementary cowgirl hat and costume.
Born on October 31, 1926 in San Francisco, Shirley was burned badly in a
childhood accident. To help with her recovery, her father, an artist, created a
ventriloquist dummy which she named Judy Splinters.
In 1940, Shirley began her radio career at the age of fourteen on a San
Francisco program called "Judy in Wonderland." In 1942, she and her family
moved to Los Angeles where she earned a spot on Eddie Cantor's radio program.
By 1948, Shirley won an Emmy for Children's Entertainment. In 1949
she moved from KTLA-TV in Los Angeles to substitute for the vacationing KUKLA,
FRAN AND OLLIE puppet program in Chicago and later moved to her own program in
In 1953, Dinsdale retired from broadcasting, married and then enrolled in
Stony Brook University where she studied to became a respiratory/cardiopulmonary
From 1973 until 1985, Shirley was head of the respiratory therapy department
of John Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.
Emmy-winning ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale Layburn died
from cancer at the age of 72 in Stony Brook, New York.
Obituaries: Shirley Dinsdale: 05/09/1999
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