Local

Bob Baker, legendary puppeteer, dead at 90

Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Bob Baker
Courtesy of Tom Ray via Davidson & Choy
Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Bob Baker
Courtesy of RockySchenck.com via Davidson & Choy
Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Kids sit on the floor up close to the puppets during performances at the theater, which include singing and dancing.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Bob Baker, founder of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles, turns 90 this weekend. He started puppeteering when he was a kid.
Handmade puppets hang backstage at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles. Baker first opened the theater 51 years ago.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


Bob Baker, the founder of one of America's oldest puppet theaters, has died. He was 90.

Baker's biographer, Gregory Williams, told KPCC that the puppeteer died at his Los Angeles home early Friday.

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, which Baker founded in 1963 with his partner Alton Wood, entertained generations of children and adults with its wooden puppets, and in June 2009 it was designated as a Los Angeles Historical–Cultural Monument, according to the theater's longtime publicist, Davidson & Choy.

According to the Associated Press, Baker discovered puppetry as a child and described being immediately transformed. At an early age he began constructing his own puppets and performing. He worked in animation for Walt Disney and others before opening his own theater company.

Baker and his company, which he founded with partner Alton Wood in 1963, performed puppet shows around the world, and his puppetry was featured in several films, according to Davidson & Choy.

Those films include Disney’s "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the 1954 version of "A Star Is Born" with Judy Garland. 

Baker spoke with Take Two's Alex Cohen earlier this year amid renewed interest in his theater. He told Cohen that he wasn't quite sure why the theater had been selling out shows once again like they once did, but that he had a feeling it might have something to do with the stories they tell.

Baker continued performing until he was 86 and began having physical difficulties, according to AP.

Williams, who said he was 15 when he first met Baker and worked as his understudy, said the puppeteer was a single man and is survived by his employees and the many who loved him.