Señor Wences (Wenseslio Moreno) on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.
Wences was known for his speed, skill, and grace as a ventriloquist. His stable of characters included Johnny, a childlike face drawn on Wences’ hand, which he would place atop an otherwise headless doll and with whom Wences conversed while switching his voices between Johnny’s falsetto and his own voice at amazing speed. Wences would create Johnny’s face on stage to open his act, placing his thumb next to, and in front of, his bent first finger; the first finger would be the upper lip, and the thumb the lower lip. He used lipstick to draw the lips onto the respective fingers and then drew eyes onto the upper part of the first finger, finishing the effect with a tiny long-haired wig on top of his hand. Flexing the thumb would move the “lips”.
Sounds like a DIY waiting to happen. Find more inspiration in these puppet videos: Ricky Syers and his handmade marionette of Doris Diether, Barnaby Dixon’s Raptor Puppet, and how to make puppets with Jim Henson.