Jimmy Weldon, a World War II veteran who entertained youngsters in Fresno as a TV ventriloquist with sidekick Webster Webfoot, died July 6 in Paso Robles at the age of 99.
During his long career, Weldon also performed the voice of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yakky Doodle and appeared in television shows such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Dragnet,” “The Waltons,” “The Rockford Files,” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”
“I met Jimmy in 1965 when I went to work at Channel 47 and we remained connected since,” said former Fresno sportscaster Pat Ogle. “He came back into the Valley many times to talk to service clubs, school assemblies, and the like. … Sure glad that God blessed me to have been (his) friend for the last 58 years.”
In 2004, Weldon and Webster Webfoot were inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame.
Served Under Gen. George Patton
Weldon, a native Texan, served under Gen. George Patton and helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp.
His first big break came at WFAA-TV in Dallas, where he was offered a show. Having honed a duck voice as a radio disc jockey and personality, he added a puppet and worked hard to become a ventriloquist. Thus was born “The Webster Webfoot Show” in 1950.
“Uncle” Jimmy and Webster moved their act to Southern California local television in 1952 before starting a run in Fresno in the mid-1950s. Then he answered the call to do the show on NBC’s flagship New York station.
He returned to Los Angeles in 1959 for a bit and then settled in with KJEO-TV Channel 47 in the 1960s. Weldon also did the show in Salinas and Bakersfield.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he was born Ivy Laverne Shinn on Sept. 23, 1923, in Dale, Texas, as the youngest of three boys. His father owned a Texaco service station. When he was working as a paperboy, he met a man who did a great Donald Duck impression; after lots of practice, he won a radio contest singing as the Disney character.
A Weldon family member told Ogle that his request was to be cremated and his ashes sent to London, England, to be interred with his wife Muriel, who died in 1988 after 41 years of marriage.
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