The Amazing Eddie Garland was a solo vaudeville ventriloquist and magic act. Through the clever use of precisely arranged screens and mirrors the illusion of a solitary seated puppet figure on stage was achieved. The dummy or "vent figure"Garland was able to perform comic monologues as well as jest with the audience much like any live comic performer and seemingly under his own control.
The man behind Garland (literally) first belonged to Franklin Love, a North Carolina presbyterian preacher who's admiration of ventriloquial arts lead him to leave his pulpit to perform behind his puppet in 1931. Franklin Love was indeed an accomplished ventriloquist but this was rarely appreciated due to the fact that during his performances he was usually hidden from the audiences view.
After years of touring the western United States with the Hayes Vaudeville traveling shows, Garland was noticed and hired on the spot by booking agents from New York’s famed Rainbow Room, they were looking for a novelty act to replace the adored ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Bergen would soon be leaving for Los Angeles where he and Charlie McCarthy would begin in earnest their historic and legendary radio career.
Franklin Love referred to the Hayes vaudeville tour as the “Hay Ride” and that he and Garland were “grateful to be getting off the ride and to be headed to the city that never sleeps.” Garland would then quip.“A City that never sleeps will be perfect for you Love... the way you snore ...nobody can sleep anyway."
END AT THE RAINBOW
In 1937 Love moved into the Windermere Flats, the second-oldest large apartment house in Manhattan. From his 57th street residence he had only a short walk to his performances at thirty Rockefeller Center and the renowned sixty fifth floor ballroom of the Rainbow Room.
Garland was a success at the posh Rainbow Room which was no small feat following so quickly in the footsteps of Bergen and McCarthy. Just six months after Bergen began his own live radio show in Los Angeles, NBC took another chance on a vent figure with "The Eddie Garland Show", a morning radio chat show. It aired only once.
A few minutes before 4am on October 31, the morning after the first and only broadcast of "The Eddie Garland Show", the overheated steam pipes ignited dust on the fifth floor of the Windermere and fire broke out. Franklin Love's sixth floor apartment quickly filled with thick black smoke. Franklin with other tenants from the building retreated to the fire escapes.
The fire escapes were filled and it was reported by the Morning Star that "a man had lost his wits and stayed on the sixth floor fire escape as if spellbound, while the fire rapidly approached."
Franklin Love perished in the Windermere fire of 1937 of smoke inhalation. Neighbors believed that he was the "spellbound" man described on the sixth floor fire escape. They also believe that instead of climbing down to the street level he had returned to save the Garland vent figure.
So ended the brief but promising career of the amazing Eddie Garland and Franklin Love, lost in the history of entertainment and ventriloquism but possibly found again in modern legend.
Many urban myths are told about the imposing Windermere. The massive building was built in 1881 and today sits empty like an abandoned castle looming over the area known as Hell's Kitchen.
One of the most enduring myths is that of the ghost of a small boy that has been sighted peering out of one of the high windows of the building at night. Old time residents in the neighborhood will tell you that "its not a boy at all... but that it is the ghost of a ventriloquist holding a dummy. Love and Garland...still appearing nightly?