|Bob Baker and friend, Toronto, Mar. 2009
I MET BOB BAKER ONCE, on a press junket promoting a DVD reissue of Pinocchio, the animated classic he'd worked on as a 12-year-old boy, showing Walt Disney's animators what a young boy looked like when he played with a marionette.
Baker was mad about puppets, and went on to work for George Pal, Edgar G. Ulmer and Roger Corman and the original Star Trek. He designed the spidery aliens that emerge from the mothership at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
He opened his own puppet theatre, Bob Baker Marionettes, in downtown L.A. in 1962. It was the oldest running theatre in Los Angeles, but with the lease running out next year, it's future was uncertain.
I wrote a story on Baker for my old blog after I was laid off by the free national daily. I also shot a short video of him, demonstrating the basics of working a marionette:
Bob Baker died on November 28, 2014