Friday, November 28, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Baker, Los Angeles' Master of Puppets

Bob Baker
(Pic by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

R.I.P. Bob Baker, a true Los Angeles treasure. Baker died Friday at the age of 90, according to Variety. His Bob Baker's Marionette Theatre entertained generations of Angeleno kids, having first opened in 1963.

Here's what I wrote on the blog in 2006:

I've always been slightly creeped out by marionettes, yet I've always been fascinated by the art as well. Bob Baker (who won an Academy Award for his puppet work on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind") not only made it his life's work behind the camera, but he also has run the kid-friendly Bob Baker Marionettes theater in downtown Los Angeles for nearly 50 years.

The Bob Baker Marionettes came to Pasadena's Levitt Pavilion (in Memorial Park) for a free show last Wednesday night -- so I grabbed Blogger Baby Evan, packed up some snacks and camped out on the lawn. The hour-long show had a Mexican theme, with mostly young people (taught by Baker, I assume) handling the strings. Afterward, we hopped on stage to see some of the puppets up close -- which scared Evan at first.

Some pics:

A gaggle of puppets

Evan is intrigued, yet spooked, by the marionettes

Cat and mouse

A little history on Baker, from his website:

While attending Hollywood High School, Bob began manufacturing toy marionettes that sold both in Europe and the United States. After graduation at the age of eighteen, he began his extensive career in animation at the George Pal Studios. He began as an apprentice and soon became a head animator of "Puppetoons" a year later.

After WWII, Bob served as an animation advisor at many film studios including Walt Disney.

With his partner, Alton Wood, Bob turned a run-down scenic shop near downtown Los Angeles into a family entertainment institution. An innovative artist and puppet master, Bob and his company have performed puppets around the globe, even on Navy ships and submarines. Mr. Baker currently has an inventory of over three thousand puppets as he creates more.

The Bob Baker Marionettes theater is located at 1345 W. First Street in Los Angeles; call 213-250-9995 for reservations (which are required).

Shows are held Tuesday - Friday at 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. General admission for the show is $12 each for adults and children. Children under 2 are free (which means perhaps we should take Blogger Baby again before December!)
The future of the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre is now in doubt; go here to find out how you can help keep it alive.

1 comment:

Nanette said...

Oh no! Brent was always a big fan of his. I'm glad my in-laws took Q last year. Sad that N may never see his show. I hope the theater stays open.

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