The future is sweet!

 Photo by Lisa Whiteman.

Photo by Lisa Whiteman.

OUR FUTURE
Bob Baker Marionette Theater now as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization will transition our current operation into an institution to educate kids of all ages across Los Angeles and beyond, to celebrate imagination and creativity, and to rejuvenate appreciation for handcrafted puppetry and entertainment. As a nonprofit organization, we are owned by the community and exist to serve the community. Though Bob Baker was the founder of our organization, we exist now to celebrate, expand, and educate people on Bob Baker’s work and the concepts of puppetry and performance as a whole.

The final day the Theater in its current location will be open to the public is Friday, November 23rd, 2018 (the day after Thanksgiving, which is the same day the Theater opened 55 years ago). One day later, on November 24, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater will open Bob Baker's Nutcracker presented at the Pasadena Playhouse for 5 weeks. For the first time in its history, this tradition will have a new home to share the holiday joy and imagination that generations have come to know and love.  Performances will run through December 30. Tickets are now on sale at www.pasadenaplayhouse.org

You can support the bright future of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater which includes our soon-to-be-announced new location, designed from original and unrealized concepts by Bob Baker himself; incorporating all the beloved features of the current theater from the drywall to the chandeliers. While we are building out our new space, we will journey wherever imagination dwells as part of our "Imagination Dwells Here" program!

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#ImaginationDwellsHere defines what we do and what it feels like wherever Bob Baker Marionettes perform and enchant! With #ImaginationDwellsHere, the Theater continues with residencies, performances, and pop-ups at the Santa Monica PierDynasty TypewriterMiracle Mile Toy HallKidSpace, the YARD Theater and more. The Bob Baker Marionette Mobile will launch as a traveling ice cream truck and puppet caravan. 

In what is clearly a moment of a changing city, Bob Baker Marionette Theater will exist as an example where change doesn’t have to mean a loss of history and culture, this is an opportunity where culture can transition and not only adapt to change but grow within it. To support the Bob Baker Marionette Theater now is to support arts and culture in the fabric of an evolving city. 

We are a living Theater, timeless in our presentation of culture, art, and craft. We are influenced by decades of design and centuries of craft, made by 1000’s of individuals from the founding members to the amazing current crew and future artists who will come to be part of the Theater - they are all encapsulated in the name “Bob Baker.” The Bob Baker Marionette Theater lives where imagination dwells. For 55 years, imagination dwelled at 1345 W. First St., and now it will dwell at the Pasadena Playhouse, Santa Monica Pier, soon at our new location, and also in the lives of children who take home the experience of seeing a puppet show. We are In LA to Stay and we couldn’t be more excited!

 Original concept drawing of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater “Party Room” c. 1960.

Original concept drawing of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater “Party Room” c. 1960.

 

OUR MISSION

To provide unique theatrical experiences; to educate, to celebrate, to rejuvenate puppetry and the allied arts.

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BRIEF HISTORY OF the Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #958. With over 300 performances a year, utilizing over 2000 handcrafted puppets, the Theater caters to birthday parties, school groups, weddings, and community functions of all sorts. After 50 years of magic, having entertained over one million children of all ages, we are proud and excited for 50 more years of pulling the strings of family fun!

In 1930 Bob Baker, a six-year-old Los Angeles native, saw a puppet show and dedicated the rest of his life to puppetry. His company’s work spanned decades of creative projects across Los Angeles, from puppetry and design on Disneyland’s Main Street, to countless contributions in film and television including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Bewitched, Escape to Witch Mountain, and more. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater continues his legacy of fostering imagination and creativity in all aspects of life and art.

Who is Bob Baker?

 L to R: Alouysius the Birthday Dog, Bob Baker, Happy the Birthday Dog, Alton Wood, Percy the Birthday Dog

L to R: Alouysius the Birthday Dog, Bob Baker, Happy the Birthday Dog, Alton Wood, Percy the Birthday Dog

At age eight, Baker trained with several different Los Angeles-based companies before giving his first professional performance for director Mervyn Leroy. While attending Hollywood High School, he began manufacturing toy marionettes that sold both in Europe and the United States. After graduation he became an apprentice at the George Pal Animation Studios. A year later he was promoted to head animator of Puppetoons. After World War II, Baker served as ananimation advisor at many film studios, including Disney. His puppetry was featured on TV in BewitchedStar TrekLand of the Giants and NCIS; and on film in the 1944 movie Bluebeard, in A Star Is BornG.I. Blues, Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Baker was also instrumental in championing union membership for puppeteers. As a result, Screen Actors Guild andAFTRA now recognize puppeteers as actors with a special skill. He has also provided a place of learning for the next generation of puppeteers, including Scott Land and Michael Earl.  Bob Baker (1924–2014) was an American puppeteer whose marionettes have entertained thousands of children and adults worldwide for more than 70 years.

Baker and partner, Alton Wood, turned a run-down scenic shop near downtown Los Angeles into a family entertainment institution: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater. The Bob Baker Marionettes have performed around the globe (even on Navy ships and submarines!), with an inventory of nearly three thousand puppets. Like Bill Baird before him, Bob Baker is an American pioneer in the art of puppetry.

Bob Baker passed away at 90 years old on November 28, 2014 of natural causes at. He left behind a lifetime worth of smiles and memories, thousands of enchanting, hand-crafted puppets, his Cultural-Historical landmark: the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, and a beloved crew of people dedicated to keeping Bob's enduring vision ever-lasting. 

At 8-years-old Bob Baker saw a puppet Show.  
More than eighty years later, that experience has grown into a cultural landmark.