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Overview (3)

Born in Coban, Guatemala
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (complications of appendectomy)
Birth NameAnthony Frederick Sarg

Mini Bio (1)

The only son of German Consul Francis Charles Sarg (also an artist), and his English wife, Mary Elizabeth Parker. Tony Sarg's grandfather taught him woodcarving. His grandmother, who painted, was also an inspiration. After his grandmother's death, Sarg inherited her beautiful collection of animals, dolls, mechanical toys and little houses. In 1887 the family moved back to Germany, where Tony attended Darmstadt School. At age 14 he entered the German military academy, Lichterfelde. As a commissioned lieutenant, he spent much of his time out of uniform visiting publishing houses with his drawings. The Sargs moved to England for nine years. He became intrigued with puppetry, and was inspired by the Holden marionette troupe. As an illustrator, he went into the commercial art business. Tony's illustrations appeared in magazines (including covers for Saturday Evening Post), newspapers and billboards. He later designed fabrics used for children's clothes, decals and nursery decorations. His works are included in many books on illustration. Sarg hit upon the idea that a gimmick would help promote him as a distinctive artist. He used some marionettes from his collection and started performing marionette shows.

In 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, Tony sent his wife and daughter to Cincinnati, and he soon followed. The Sargs moved to New York in 1915, where Tony rented a studio in the Flatiron Building at 23rd Street. By 1917 his marionette hobby had turned into a profession, along with his illustrations and other art jobs. In 1920 he became a naturalized citizen. In 1928 Tony designed a series of helium-filled, rubberized silk animal balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Bil Baird supervised the construction, and called them "giant, upside-down marionettes", as the strings were below them. In the minds of the public this gained Tony most of his fame in New York. Balloons remain a tradition of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Sarg Company performed such famous stories as Uncle Wiggly's Adventures, Robin Hood, Rip Van Winkle, The Bremen Band, Ali Baba, The Stolen Princess, The Rose and the Ring, Don Quixote, Sinbad the Sailor and Alice in Wonderland. For a time in 1922 he was associated with H.M. Dawley Inc., a film production company specializing in animation and headed by renowned animator Herbert M. Dawley.

In 1929 a musical film short was released by Columbia Pictures called Tony Sarg's Marionettes in the Orient (1930). At the conclusion of the marionette show, Sarg takes a bow. His marionette production at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair drew more than three million people. In 1935 Tony designed the mechanically animated window display for Macy's Department Store. This continued for several years, and animated windows became a standard attraction everywhere. As a speaker, he had an engaging quality that was further enhanced by his demonstration of puppetry. His daughter toured with him occasionally and developed her own troupe of puppets. At one time a wealthy man, his funds diminished in the late 1930s, and he declared bankruptcy in 1939. Although he made a strong financial comeback within a couple of years, he died in March of 1942 following surgery for a ruptured appendix. He was buried in Cincinnati, Ohio.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: pmintun@mac.com (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

Bertha Eleanor McGowan (20 January 1909 - 7 March 1942) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (2)

Noted as a puppeteer.
In 1922, he worked for H.M. Dawley Inc., a film production company owned by animator Herbert M. Dawley.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on censors] They said that my picture of Jonah and the whale could not be shown in Ohio, because it was poking fun at a Bible story! But they finally consented to let me show it if I would alter some of the titles. One of them was: 'This all happened 700 B.C. (Before Corsets).' That title was eliminated.

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