Terry Wayne Fator (born June 10, 1965) is a ventriloquist, impressionist, comedian, and singer from Mesquite, Texas. Fator is capable of doing over 100 ventriloquial impersonations and uses 16 different puppets in his act. He was the winner of Season 2 of America’s Got Talent, and received the million dollar prize. The following year, he was signed on as the headliner at The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Terry Fator was born on June 10, 1965 in Dallas, Texas. Fator says in his audio commentary of Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas (2009) that he went to college at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The beginning of Fator’s ventriloquism career dates back to when he was in fifth grade. While searching for a book for an assignment on Valentine’s Day, he came across a book about ventriloquism titled, Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit, by Paul Winchell. Fator checked out the book and started learning about ventriloquism. A few weeks later, Fator purchased a Willie Talk dummy from Sears and soon won a $25 prize for a performance at a church picnic.
Fator got his first ventriloquism dummy when he was ten years old. Throughout his childhood, Fator entertained family and friends with his ventriloquism and did impersonations of singers and actors. Fator was able to save his money and got his first professional ventriloquism dummy when he was eighteen.
Fator says he found he had the ability to impersonate singers by practicing ventriloquism while driving his car. “One of the reasons I learned how to sing as a ventriloquist was because I like singing in the car,” Fator says. “I’d see other people singing in the car, and they looked goofy, so I’d do it without moving my lips.”
On October 14 and 15, 2007, after winning America’s Got Talent, Fator took the stage of the Las Vegas Hilton (formerly the International, the same stage that Elvis Presley performed on for many years.) Both shows were sold out to standing room only. Another show was added for December 3 to satisfy the demand for tickets.
On May 13, 2008 it was announced that Fator had signed a five year deal to perform nightly at The Mirage in Las Vegas. He replaced headliner Danny Gans and the theater was renamed the Terry Fator Theatre. Reportedly the deal is worth an astounding $100 million with an option to extend another five years making the entire deal worth over $200 million. This would be one of the largest entertainment deals in Las Vegas history.
Fator has fought to be taken seriously as a ventriloquist. “There have been so few good, successful ventriloquists – Edgar Bergen in the 1940s and Paul Winchell in the 1960s were respected and successful,” says Fator. “And in the 1970s, I used to watch Willie Tyler and his Lester as well as Jay Johnson and Bob. But over the years, there have been so many bad ventriloquists – and most of them doing corny shows for children – that people began to think of us as a bad joke.”