“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi
History is full of inspirational stories of people who followed their life’s passion and ended up leaving a positive legacy behind for others to enjoy.
One such person lived out his passion in Los Angeles. When he was just five years old, he witnessed his first puppet show and was immediately enthralled by the stringed marionettes. He soon opened his own puppet theatre, called the “Petite Theater,” in his backyard, and by age eight was taking puppetry lessons. A year later in 1932, he put on his first professional performance for an audience that included noted film director Mervyn LeRoy.
His passion continued through high school where he began making toy marionettes that were sold across the country and in Europe. Building on his success, he took on an apprenticeship at the George Pal Animation Studios, where he was soon promoted to lead animator of Puppetoons, a studio that created animated puppet films.
When World War II ended, he began working as an animation advisor for several of Hollywood’s film studios. His work spread far and wide from puppetry and design on Disneyland’s Main Street to popular television shows such as Star Trek, Land of the Giants, Bewitched, and NCIS, as well as on the big screen in movies including A Star is Born, G.I. Blues, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Then in 1963, he took a leap of faith and open a puppet theater in a small, older building near downtown Los Angeles with his partner Alton Wood. Although there were times of struggle, the rest as they say is history. Over one million children have witnessed his original shows. In 2009, his theatre was named an official Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, cementing forever the legacy of this great LA institution.
With an archive of more than 3,000 puppets, this amazing talent was Bob Baker, who left an indelible imprint on the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas with his Bob Baker Marionette Theater. He passed away on November 28, 2014, at the age of 90, and is interred in the Columbarium of Tenderness at Forest Lawn-Glendale. In tribute to his amazing legacy, the Forest Lawn Museum is hosting a very special exhibit titled Bob Baker Marionette Theater: 60 Years of Joy and Wonder. It features highlights of this iconic LA area’s legendary and fun history and will run from October 20, 2022, to March 19, 2023. We invite you to stop by and experience it for yourself.