In Reply to: Jimmy Riddle posted by Graham Cambray on February 11, 2009 at 16:27:
: : : : I have a vintage hand puppet (can't say how old but has heavy sign of wear patina) it has a smiling man's face with a little hat (like a clowns pork pie hat) perched on one side of his head. It is not sad or cheeky like you would expect of a clown but more like a characterization of a person. It has it's own original box with the name Jimmy Riddle written on it. Was Jimmy Riddle an old comedian? or personality? Anyone know??
: : : I looked on Ebay and found Jimmy Riddle items -- "African adventure" books and what looks to be a blues 45. Continuing the search...
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: : This phrase has an entry on this site by Gary Martin (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/211900.html). He concludes that Jimmy Riddle probably wasn't an historical character (though many names used in Cockney Rhyming sland were).
: : But the phrase has been around for a while, and a comic might well have appropriated it as a stage name. Indeed, there's one around now in the UK (http://www.onstageregister.com/jimmy-riddle.aspx). He's been doing the rounds for 20 years, he says, so unless your hand puppet could be less than 20 years old, he's probably not your man (there's a picture on his site, though). But he may not have been the first to "borrow" the name. (GC)
: Oh, an afterthought, and by way of a word of warning. Though not much in usage now, the phrase Jimmy Riddle goes back some (Gary Martin cites late 19th century). Any instances of the name after that are unlikely to be a source, then, but even around that time we would want to be careful, as "Jimmy" may be the name not so much borrowed as forced upon an individual, like or not, as a nickname. This still goes on today, in some quarters, such as the UK armed forces (see http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.00h004002009002 and following pages). My father-in-law was always known as Dicky Bird (rhyming slang for word). He was actually christened Ronald, but didn't get a lot of say in the matter. Nor would I suppose that US baseball player Yogi Berra was christened thus. Any attempt to find an early Jimmy Riddle may be complicated by this fact - what you think may be a "cause" may rather be an "effect". (GC)
Perhaps Graham's earlier reference to Cockney rhyming slang needs amplifying: "Jimmy Riddle" is still in use and well known (among those who use rhyming slang at all) as a synonym for "piddle". (VSD)