(WSVN) - A South Florida family has a very unique collection. Some will find it cool — and others a bit creepy. Kevin Ozebek shines the 7 Spotlight on their passion for puppets.
When you first walk into this Miami-Dade home, you get the feeling somebody is watching you.
Welcome to Leonard Moore II’s longtime family home.
Leonard Moore II: “The world’s largest, privately-owned ventriloquist collection … to the best of our knowledge, privately-owned. Nobody compares to it.”
On display here are more than 400 ventriloquist figures, marionettes and other puppets.
Leonard Moore II: “A lot of ventriloquists take offense to the word dummy. She has four different mechanics, so she can wink, she can blink, she can move her eyes, and of course, she can talk. She costs too much money to be called a dummy.”
Whatever you call them, they are everywhere, sitting on the floor, gathered around tables and sharing couch space.
And if this is what you’re thinking, you are not alone.
Leonard Moore II: “I wouldn’t sleep here, but this is cool.”
Tonya Traylor is Leonard’s mom.
Tonya Traylor/ventriloquist: “I’ve had friends that are, ‘Oh, no, that’s creepy. Oh, no. Does it walk at night?'”
Tonya spoke with us from Abu Dhabi, where she works as the head of marketing for two private schools.
Tonya Traylor: “Y’all are international!”
Yes, this collector and ventriloquist travels the globe with “friends.”
Tonya Traylor with puppet: “Hi, I want to be famous. I guess, at, uh, I’m talented, and ah… Casie! What? It’s supposed to be about us. No, it’s not.”
Leonard Moore II: “There’s nobody like my mom. There’s not a lot of black people in ventriloquism. Then, to have a black female ventriloquist, who’s also a collector and who’s a collector of this size, one of a kind.”
So is their collection.
Leonard gave us the grand tour.
Leonard Moore II: “In here we have our oldest ones.”
A few of the figures date back hundreds of years.
Leonard Moore II: “Mid 1700s … Each of these figures have their own personality. They have their own spirit.”
And their own stories.
These animal puppets entertained the future king of England.
Leonard Moore II: “The noses move. They look like little real rabbits. When Prince Charles was a kid, this was one of his favorite performances by a famous ventriloquist.”
If this guy looks familiar, Leonard was the puppeteer behind the infamous tobacco company executive in a series of anti-smoking commercials.
Leonard Moore II: “Pops was used for a three-year Tobacco Free Florida campaign.”
Leonard was the puppeteer behind the infamous tobacco company executive in a series of anti-smoking commercials.
As for his passion for puppets, Leonard explains it this way…
Leonard Moore II: “Growing up, everyone has that one toy that their imagination ran off with. Pops was one of my best friends, because I grew up with him.”
In case you’re wondering, most of these puppets are not on display in this home all the time. Pretty soon, most of them will be going into storage.
Pops the puppet: “Storage?”
Kevin Ozebek: “Hey, not your turn to talk just yet.”
Kevin Ozebek: “Now, Leonard and Tonya say they are working on a number of pop-up performances with the ultimate goal of having a permanent museum. More information on that, click here.
Pops: “And if there is someone or something you think we should feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. With Kevin Ozebek, I’m Pops, 7News.”
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