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James H. Sharp

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James H. Sharp
BornJames Henry Sharp
March 29, 1830
DiedAugust 15, 1908 (age 78)

James H. Sharp (1830-1908), an American Civil War veteran, magician, marionette player and ventriloquist, traveled around central Pennsylvania performing in a covered wagon with his ventriloquist dummy, Peter Hauntz, from 1865 until his death in 1908.[1]


Sharp entertained Union troops with his cornet playing and puppet shows. He was sometimes called Colonel Sharp, Professor Sharp, and sometimes referred to his dummies' namesake, Peter Hauntz.

Sharp adopted the stage name for his main marionette character, from "Peter Hans", a stock character popular in English shows in Pennsylvania German districts.[2]

One of his best known tricks was causing a fiddle to rise up to the ceiling to play Christmas carols. Sharp was distinguished by appearing in the likeness of Abraham Lincoln with his marionette appearing as a diminutive version of the same. His traveling road show also included a little girl, Herodia, who pretended to by a marionette.

James Sharp was killed by a switch engine near Lock Haven, Pa. in September of 1908.[3]

Columnist Henry Shoemaker with the Altoona Tribune wrote articles on Sharp (Feb. 4, May 6, 1943, Dec. 1 1942, 1952). Sharp is listed on page 154 of Ryan Howard's book on ventriloquists. A children's book, "Herodia, the Lovely Puppet" (1940s?) was based on a part of Sharp's life.


  2. The Puppet Theatre in America: A History, with a List of Puppeteers 1524-1948 (1949)
  3. Hugard's Magic Monthly, June 1951