|Age (at audition)||42|
Terry Fator was born on June 10, 1965, in Dallas, Texas. 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. Throughout his childhood, Fator entertained family and friends with his ventriloquism and did impersonations of singers and actors.
Fator did a solo act combining comedy and ventriloquism but for many years had little success. In May 2007, Fator was performing at a fair near Houston, Texas and the only spectator was a 12-year-old boy. Discouraged, Fator contemplated pursuing another career, but his family encouraged him to hang in there. Fator says the low point of his career was when he appeared at a thousand seat theater and had only one customer. 1
Terry Fator's audition in Episode 203 consisted of impersonating Etta James by singing "At Last" in ventriloquism through one of his puppets, Emma Taylor. Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff all voted "Yes", sending Terry to the Vegas Round.
Terry Fator was sorted into the "Variety" category during the Vegas Round. His performance in Episode 205 consisted of impersonating Tony Bennett by singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in ventriloquism through one of his puppets. His audition was strong enough for the judges to send him to the Semifinals in Episode 206.
Terry Fator's Semifinals performance in Episode 208 consisted of impersonating Kermit the Frog by singing "What a Wonderful World" in ventriloquism through one of his puppets, Winston the turtle, and Terry himself singing the same song impersonating Louis Armstrong. He received enough votes to be sent to the Top 10 the following week.
Terry Fator's Top 10 performance in Episode 209 consisted of singing "Unforgettable," impersonating both Nat King Cole (as Terry himself) and Natalie Cole (in ventriloquism through one of his puppets, Emma Taylor). He received enough votes to be sent to the Final 8 the following week.
Terry Fator's Final 8 performance in Episode 210 consisted of his puppet singing "That's Amore" impersonating Dean Martin and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" impersonating Tony Bennett. Terry received enough votes to be sent to the Final 4 the following week.
Terry Fator's first Final 4 performance in Episode 211 consisted of his puppet Walter T Airdale singing "Friends in Low Places" impersonating Garth Brooks. Terry Fator's second Final 4 performance consisted of his turtle puppet Winston singing "Crying" impersonating Roy Orbison.
For the finale in Episode 212, Terry Fator's puppet Johnny Vegas sang "You've Got a Friend" impersonating James Taylor in a duet with Kermit the Frog. Terry was revealed to have finished in first place in the competition that same night, in front of Cas Haley, Butterscotch, and Julienne Irwin, winning one million dollars.
After the Show
Fator performed at Christian rock legend Larry Norman's 60th birthday party in April 2007. Later Fator flew Larry to tapings of America's Got Talent and also to his debut show at the Las Vegas Hilton as an honored guest.
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.
In early December 2007, Fator signed a contract for $1.5 million with the Las Vegas Hilton to do three shows a month from January 2008 to May 2008. Fator also performed a 6 p.m. early family New Year's Eve show on December 31, 2007.
On May 13, 2008, it was announced that Fator had signed a five year, $100 million contract to perform nightly at The Mirage in Las Vegas. He replaced headliner Danny Gans and the theater was renamed the Terry Fator Theatre. Reportedly, Fator's deal is one of the largest entertainment deals in Las Vegas history.
On May 30, 2013, Terry Fator celebrated his 1,000th show at The Mirage Hotel & Casino. 2
- Terry Fator was the first ventriloquist to win America's Got Talent; the second to win was Paul Zerdin, and the third was Darci Lynne.