Puppet master takes trophy in NBC show

Working with puppets has certainly paid off for Terry Fator.

The crowd-pleasing ventriloquist and impersonator was named the winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in the variety contest’s second-season finale Tuesday night.

“Terry, you’ve done it! You are the best new act in America, and you have won $1 million!” announced host Jerry Springer.

Fator, who took up ventriloquism at age 10, impressed judges David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne with his impersonations of legends including Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Roy Orbison – and Kermit the Frog.

The runner-up was singer Cas Haley.

“I’m going to get recognized a little bit more now,” Fator said in a video posted on NBC’s Web site. “If you see me, you come up and shake my hand – I’ve been waiting for this for 32 years.”

The top-rated series, from “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell and FremantleMedia, the company that produces Fox’s hit singing contest, features an eclectic mix of acts. It debuted in June 2006.

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