Tony Malatini, a puppeteer, at Paris' Theatre des Marionettes notices that his audience consists of only 7 people. He visits his successful competitor on the corner to see why people are ... See full summary »
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Tony Malatini, a puppeteer, at Paris' Theatre des Marionettes notices that his audience consists of only 7 people. He visits his successful competitor on the corner to see why people are drawn to it. After seeing Suzanne, the competitors popular dancer, Tony is mesmerized by her. He goes backstage to see her and asks her if he can make a puppet of her to use in his show. Over-hearing this, the Baron, Suzanne's controlling manager, castigates Suzanne threatening to set her free. Suzanne terrified of being on her own, begs the Baron to marry her and not to leave her. Tony comes during one of Suzanne's performances and begs her not to marry the Baron. Upset, Suzanne falls into the orchestra pit and injures herself to the extent that she won't dance again. Baron leaves Suzanne, but Tony with a doctor's help puts her through a vigorous exercise program. Tony also shows her how to be a puppeteer. Tony confesses to Suzanne that his true friends are his puppets. He picks up the puppet of ... Written by
I Am Suzanne is recognized by many puppeteers as a milestone for puppet movies. Yet, very few have seen it. I worked with the Yale Puppeteers in the late fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties into their very senior years. So being the youngest of their troop, the "Turnabouters", I have many recollections. There are few of us left. Perhaps only Gene Maiden and myself, Charles Taylor, have the knowledge of details regarding the Yale Puppeteers.
I always wondered how the portrait puppets were created. My apprenticeship with Harry Burnett led me to believe that the fine portrait work was beyond his ability. There are clues in Punch's Progress,and Small Wonder, the biographies of the Yale Puppeteers and the latter book including Turnabout Theater. by Forman Brown, that led me to believe that work was carried out with someone with finer sculpting ability . Harry Burnett would have made the bodies, hands and heads of most of the characters but definitely not the true likeness of the puppets representing well known "portrait" personalities.
Harry gave me photographs of Lillian Harvey and Gene Raymond with their puppets. Many years later I happened on the puppet figure of Lilian Harvey without her head. I am pleased to have the headless puppet in my collection. Perhaps one day I can replicate the head to go with the torso. It is possible that the portrait puppets of Lilian Harvey and Gene Raymond were in the possession of the actors. Although, during the mid to late fifties, much of the puppets and personal possessions of the Yale puppeteers were stored in an elephant van by Jimmy Woods owner of Jungle Land. Vandals broke into the unguarded van and photographs, negatives, and antiques were strewn about the field. Many of the puppets had been stolen. This was between 1956 and 1959. Perhaps that is how the Lillian Harvey puppet "lost" her head! Many of these objects had been wrapped in newspaper and stored in boxes. We found some items had been pulled out of their wrappings tearing priceless antiques. I have a set of crèche figures that stood in the Turnabout Theater. Hat brims and small details were destroyed when they were pulled out and so they were left behind in the field. Other objects were totally lost. Fortunately, there were so many items that the thieves didn't scratch the depth of their treasures!
You can see a photograph of the Lilian Harvey and Gene Raymond puppets by going on line and type in Turnabout Theater then go to the Los Angeles Library | Regional History | Turnabout Theater - Then go to TT-001-804 no neg. It's many pages in but worth looking at the fun pictures of the Turnabout Theater family and Yale Puppeteers history. You'll see me in there too!
Another excellent source of information regarding I Am Suzanne, The Yale Puppeteers, Turnabout Theater would be Alan Cook of COPA, Conservatory of Puppetry Arts. Just type COPA puppets.
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