American ventriloquist, impressionist, and stand-up comedian Terry Fator shot to fame after an appearance on “America’s Got Talent” and quickly signed a headliner contract for his own show in Las Vegas. He consistently ranks as one of Las Vegas’s highest-paid performers. His annual salary is $20 million.
On June 19, 1965, Fator entered the world in Dallas, Texas. Parentage: Jephtha Wesley and Edith Clifton’s offspring. He had an older brother named Jephtha Jr. and a younger sister named Deborah. In the fifth grade, after reading a book about ventriloquism in the library, Fator was immediately captivated by the art form.
Soon after, he went to Sears and bought a willie talk dummy, using it to hone his skills in front of his loved ones. His mom saved up for years and finally bought him his first puppet when he was 18. Before beginning his comedy career, Fator studied at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Fator’s first professional gig was in 1987 and 1988 when he was Freedom Jam’s frontman on the road. The band toured North America, playing in as many as three different secondary schools in a single day. In the middle of 1988, Fator took over lead vocals for the showband Texas the Band and began performing with his puppet Walter T. Airedale.
He eventually quit the group and started working on a solo career. Fator’s act was a blend of humor and ventriloquism, but he had trouble finding his target demographic. A low point for him came when he was scheduled to perform in a theatre with 1,000 seats and only one person showed up. But Fator’s loved ones urged him to keep trying.
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He chose to include singing and impressions of popular singers like Garth Brooks and James Taylor in his performance. Although the gamble didn’t pay off right away, his audience soon warmed up to his show. He began taking on high-profile corporate customers like GM and AT&T, and soon found himself signed on as an opening act for such luminaries as Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, and Styx.
Fator’s break came when he was invited to go on “America’s Got Talent” in June of 2007. Despite skepticism from the audience and judges, he ended up taking home the prize for best performer. His act was so good that even Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan, who are famously picky, gave him high marks.
In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Terry Fator‘s schedule filled up so quickly that he had to decline invitations to appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” no fewer than fourteen times before he could eventually make it. In addition, he started performing at the Las Vegas Hilton, where Elvis Presley had played for years, and quickly became so popular that he sold out consecutive shows there.
A few months later, in early November, he secured a contract with the hotel to perform there three times each month from January through May of 2008. At around the same time, he made an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” when his covers of Marvin Gaye and the Bee Gees blew away the audience and Oprah herself.
Finally, he agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract to perform at The Mirage.
In 2013, he was asked to lend his voice to a Mickey Mouse cartoon on the Disney Channel. In May of 2013, he performed his 1,000th show at The Mirage, after which his contract was extended. He finished his stint at The Mirage after 11 years in 2019.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he was planning on opening a new exhibition at the New York-New York Hilton. His new act, “Who’s the Dummy Now?” premiered at New York City’s Liberty Loft theatre in late 2020, making him one of the first performers to return to the stage at that time.
Due to the skill’s general lack of respect, Fator is one of the few successful ventriloquist comedians. A few of the people who have influenced Fator’s success in the niche market are Edgar Bergen, Paul Winchell, willie Tyler, and Jay Johnson.
One of the greatest comedy deals in history, after Fator’s contract with the Las Vegas Hilton ended, he signed a five-year, $100 million contract to perform weekly at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip. It was so anticipated that the venue hosting the show was officially rechristened as the Terry Fator Theatre.
Fator met his first wife, Melinda when she began to follow him while he toured with Texas the Band. They began dating in 1989 and eventually tied the knot on January 8, 1991. They were married for nearly 20 years when Melinda filed for divorce from him in 2009.
Then, in November of 2010, Terry Fator wed Taylor Makakoa in Hawaii. After a brief four-year marriage, they decided to separate. Fator’s sister then arranged a date for him with Angela Fiore. As a result of Fator’s on-stage proposal, the two started dating and eventually tied the knot.