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"The Dummy" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"Meet Jerry Etherson -best friend is a liquor bottle and ventriloquist extraordinaire. Jerry is convinced that the wooden dummy named Willie sitting on his lap is no ordinary, mute puppet. Jerry is sure Willie wants to run the show! He relates his fear to his manager, but Frank thinks Jerry is going off the deep end. In desperation, Jerry tries to destroy the dummy. But this is The Twilight Zone...the one place where a dummy can truly enjoy the last laugh."[1]

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"You're watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet 'Willy.' In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

The episode opens with ventriloquist Jerry Etherson and his dummy Willie in the middle of one of his acts, somewhere in New York City. After the act, Jerry goes back to his dressing room and begins to drink from a liquor bottle he'd hidden in a drawer. His agent, Frank, comes in and is upset that Jerry has resumed drinking. Jerry tells Frank that Willie is alive and frequently talks to him. When Jerry tells the agent that he is at the mercy of the dummy, Frank does not believe Jerry and thinks he might need psychiatric help. Jerry decides that he is going to perform with a different dummy, "Goofy Goggles", for his next act (and all future acts) and locks Willie in a trunk. After the second act, which is not as successful as the ones with Willie, his agent tells him that he is quitting, but Jerry says he is leaving to go to Kansas City and try to get away from Willie. Frank tells him that it doesn't matter where he goes; he'll still have this delusion if he doesn't deal with it here and now. While he's standing outside the back door to the theater, he hears faint whispers of Willie's voice. Jerry sees the dummy's shadow and continues to hear his voice until a coworker from the theater walks up and asks if anything is wrong. Jerry invites her to get a drink, but does it nervously and eccentrically, thereby causing the woman to become frightened and run away. As soon as she leaves, Jerry hears Willie's voice again and runs back into the theater. He goes into the dark dressing room, opens the trunk and throws the dummy on the floor, brutally smashing it. But when he turns on the light, he realizes that he destroyed the Goofy Goggles dummy that he was going to use in his future acts. He can't understand how he could have been mistaken. He sees Willie sitting on the couch, talking to him and laughing at him. Jerry asks how he can be real when he's made of wood, and Willie tells him that it was he, Jerry, who made him alive. Realizing the truth, Jerry lowers his head as Willie cackles crazily. The scene cuts to a stage in Kansas City announcing that the next act will be "Jerry & Willie", and we see the beginning of the act from the back of the man who walked out. As the camera rotates to the front, it is revealed that the man is actually Willie, and he is holding a dummy that looks just like Jerry.

Closing Narration

"What's known in the parlance of the times as the old switcheroo, from boss to blockhead in a few uneasy lessons. And if you're given to nightclubbing on occasion, check this act. It's called Willy and Jerry, and they generally are booked into some of the clubs along the 'Gray Night Way' - known as The Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

Next week, through the good offices of Mr. Richard Matheson, we tell you a story of a "Young Man's Fancy", which is kind of a euphemistic description of a mortal combat between the living and the dead, between the present and the past, between Miss Phyllis Thaxter and Mr. Alex Nicol. The battleground is this old house and its front door will be opened to you next week on The Twilight Zone.

Response and Analysis


Critical Response





Notes and Annotations

Technical Information



Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)


Technical Specs


  • Rod Serling is seen sitting at a table when he narrates the opening scene, but in a few scenes where the viewer can see the audience, he is not seen.
  • Frank Sutton would go on to play Sgt. Carter in Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C two years after this episode aired. Fittingly, he plays a character named Frank.

Cast Connections

Crew Connections

Errors and Goofs

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

See Also

Notes and References


  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0315 "The Dummy/Nothing in the Dark/Shadow Play/The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" ; UPC: 000315060003, EAN: 0000315060003, ASIN: B0007LHRYY; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)


External Links