In 150 A.D., a man called Alexander of Abonoteichus captivated contemporaries when he discovered a talking serpent with a human head. Not so captivated was the skeptical writer Lucian, who declared that the head was made from linen, mounted on a snake's body, and made to speak through a tube operated by a concealed assistant. While not ventriloquism, it was an early use of a “dummy” to focus the audience’s attention on a miraculous voice. (Thankfully, animal carcasses have been phased out of modern interpretations.)
Apparently ventriloquists were known to the Greeks as 'engastrimyths'. By medieval times throwing your voice was linked to witchcraft. 'An account of the possession of a boy in 1500s England declared baying hounds could be heard in his stomach.' This was, of course, long before the invention of Rennies.
Horror films are mentioned, naturally, as there's no shortage of evil dolls on celluloid.
While Western movies such as Dead of Night and Magic have memorable dummies, there are a few Asian examples from recent years. The Doll Master, from South Korea, is particularly enjoyable, with its theme of a whole house dedicated to the art of doll making. Well, of course you're go there for a nice quiet weekend, wouldn't you?