It’s hard to know, since the word “videotaped” has been used in different meanings. We know that the earliest recorded usage was in print in 1847 by Robert A. Smith, and later that year he published his book, An Introduction to the Vocal Theatre; a reprint of the same book in 1889 contains these two lines and other text:
I’ve just heard a talkative ventriloquist, whose voice I’m sure to recognize, tell me that it could be the first and only ventriloquist…
The earliest known book was written in 1905 by the English singer H. J. Smith and published in London in the anthology, The Art of Vocal Performance; in the Introduction is his entry regarding, of all things, a ventriloquist. Smith says: “It may almost have escaped your notice, but some years ago a man, who I am convinced has a distinct and natural ability to perform at a low voice, gave a talkative ventrilloquist a lesson in the art of ventriloquism from a well known ventriller. He had been taught by a good teacher, and he was soon to prove the ventrilloquist’s powers beyond his own expectation.” Later in the book Smith says “a friend and fellow ventriloquist at the Academy of Music at Hampstead, made me hear him perform, and I found that he could do a number of things, which I may here describe.” A few years later Smith made a detailed list of known ventrolosists and published it for all to see, including a photograph of the first ventriloquist, Mr. Henry Trowbridge.
Here is a transcript of the original article in the March 26, 1907 London newspaper, “All Saints Weekly.” The article was reprinted in the May 8, 1909 issue of the same publication, with the title, “The First Ventriloquist,” and the transcript below.
“There are two distinct kinds of ventriloquists, those who make a speech at an unusually low pitch. At least one is an active ventrilloquist [a person who acts in public ventriloquistic performances]. Both can be classed as ventrilloquists. The one I am relating is the one I was taught by a good teacher at Hampstead Academy of Music in the past. He was the first and only ventrilloquist who taught for a year at this theatre before his
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