Lucille Ball Demos a Precursor to Peter Frampton’s “Talk Box” (1939)

Decades before Peter Framp­ton made the Talk Box come alive on songs like “Do You Feel Like We Do” and “Show Me the Way,” anoth­er leg­end, Lucille Ball, exper­i­ment­ed with its fore­run­ner, the Sonovox. Invent­ed by Gilbert Wright in 1939, the Sonovox “used speak­ers pressed into [a per­former’s] throat to pro­duce mechan­i­cal talk­ing sounds.” And the sounds could then be mod­u­lat­ed by the tongue and lips.  Above, in a 1939 news­reel clip called “Machine Made Voic­es!,” Ball puts the Sonovox on dis­play. This marked one of her ear­li­est appear­ances on film.

The Sonovox would lat­er fea­ture promi­nent­ly in radio sta­tion IDs and jin­gles. Bela Lugosi would use it to “por­tray the voice of a dead per­son dur­ing a seance.” And it would even make an appear­ance on The Who’s 1967 album, The Who Sell Out–all before the mod­ern Talk Box arrived on the scene.

via Boing­Bo­ing

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Only Sur­viv­ing Behind-the-Scenes Footage of I Love Lucy, and It’s in Col­or! (1951)

How to Use the Rotary Dial Phone: A Primer from 1927

How Vinyl Records Are Made: A Primer from 1956

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