The Baird Puppets - Puppets & Marionettes
created by Bil and Cora Baird, a talented husband/wife puppet team who
made hundred's of
puppet and marionette characters in the early days of television,
including Groovy, a screwball disc jockey rabbit; Bubbles La Rue,
a dancing puppet;
Heathcliffe, the talking horse, Flannel the Mouse, Humphrey the Hound and
Charlemane the Lion.
Humphrey the Hound, Cora & Bill
Baird and Charlemane the Lion
The Baird's most popular and ambitious
program was the Saturday morning children's adventure THE
This Bil and Cora Baird marionette
production followed the adventures of J. P., a cute, wide-eyed
little boy who accidentally fell to the bottom of a well (much
like Alice fell into Wonderland) only to find the entrance to an
enchanted world of "The Land of Beyond" ruled by a
Leprechaun named Dooley, (aka the "Whistling Wizard").
Speaking with an Irish brogue and playing a
magic flute, Dooley protected his kingdom against the evil
Kohlrabi and Mistress Spider Lady who weaved her black magic
spells by uttering the incantation "Elia Kazan!"
Other residents of this fantasy land were:
- King Rutabega, the ruler of a neighboring kingdom of Nagard
- Thimble, Dooley's assistance
- Davey Jones, the guardian of treasure at the bottom of the sea
- Heathcliffe, a talking horse.
Many of the puppets used on the series were
recycled from the western puppet adventure LIFE WITH SNARKY
PARKER/CBS/1950, an earlier puppet show created by the Bairds.
Snarky Parker was a deputy sheriff of a
western town. With the aid of his talking horse Heathcliffe, he
rid the town of Hot Rock of such dangerous critters as Ronald
Rodent and Blackie McGoo.
Additional characters included:
- Cuda Barra, a siren
- Miss Butterball, the school marm
- Slugger, the Hot Rock Cafe piano player
- Noose Nolan, a reformed desperado
- Fluff Webster, his partner
Bil and Cora Baird puppets were also
featured on THE BIL BAIRD SHOW/CBS/1950; Ed Sullivan's THE TOAST
OF THE TOWN/CBS/1948-49; Sid Caesar's YOUR SHOW OF
SHOWS/NBC/1950-54; THE MORNING SHOW/CBS/1954-57 with host Walter
Cronkite; Westinghouse's ADVENTURE'S IN NUMBER AND SPACE/SYN/1957;
and on the ABC musical special ART CARNEY MEETS PETER AND THE WOLF
that aired on 11/30/1958 (with music by Prokofiev, lyrics by Ogden
The Charles H. MacNider Museum at 303 2nd
St. SE, Mason City, IA 50401 features a permanent collection of
puppets created and collected by master puppeteer Bil Baird.
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