‘Enchanted Strings’ tells of Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater

| December 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

NEW BOOK tells history of Bob Baker’s legendary theater.

Pull back the plush, red curtain to see behind the stage of puppet theater in Los Angeles, from its early days to its wonderful, tangled world today in a new book, “Enchanted Strings: Bob Baker Marionette Theater.”

Described as a 176-page “love letter dedicated to our treasured Los Angeles institution,” the book introduces the artists, crafts people and legendary puppeteer Bob Baker, all of whom brought (and still bring) the theater’s 2,000 marionettes to life.

Described as a modern-day Geppetto, Baker, along with Alton Wood, founded what is considered the oldest puppet theater in the country in Downtown Los Angeles in 1963. (In 2019, the theater was moved to a new home at 4949 York Blvd., Highland Park.)

As a child, Baker formed a small theater in the backyard of his New Hampshire Avenue home, a few blocks east of Larchmont, where he lived until his death at 90 in 2014.

By high school, Baker was manufacturing and selling toy marionettes in Europe and the United States. He went on to become an animation advisor at many film studios, including Disney. Baker’s collaboration with Walt Disney and Hollywood films is featured among the more than 300 vintage and contemporary photographs.


A brief history at the start of the book traces puppets’ beginnings to ancient Egypt and Greece and early Christianity; the French word marionette means “Little Mary.”

Puppets were favorites at royal courts; Shakespeare wrote for them and Mozart composed for them. When the European puppets landed in the New World, they found their counterparts in the puppets of Indigenous Americans, and the art form was expanded, bringing us into the world that puppets inhabit today.

Unlike shadow or hand puppets, marionettes can “act, dance and sing… as the strings allow for precise, subtle and more life-like movement,” according to the new book’s author, professional puppeteer Randal J. Metz, who worked for Baker between 1986 and 1990 and who now resides in San Francisco. “By telling the history of Bob’s theater, I can keep Bob’s dream alive for everyone,” he says.

The book includes a foreword by Oscar and Emmy award-winning director, writer and actor Jordan Peele.

“I’ve visited the Bob Baker Marionette Theater numerous times, and each time the experience feels completely new. Throughout its history, the theater has amassed an amazing, intricate roster of puppets, deepest I’ve ever seen. Each one is unique, and alive, and sleeping until the next show,” says Peele.

VINTAGE DRAWINGS and photos are included in the book.

The book retails for $40. It will be available Feb. 8, 2022, and may be pre-ordered at AngelCityPress.com.

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Category: Entertainment

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