File puptcrit/puptcrit.0801, message 75

To: <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 13:17:49 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Johnny Faust aka John Faustman

Thanks for sharing this amazing episode in your life and illuminating the
"back story" of puppetry legends, like yourself.
Carol Sterling 
-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Alan Cook
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 12:47 PM
Subject: [Puptcrit] Johnny Faust aka John Faustman

Photos of puppets by Johnny Faust appeared in an early Puppetry Journal.

 Johnny Faust  worked with Tony Sarg as had Bil Baird.

Originally from Ripon, Wisconsin, in his early teens John Faustman published
a little booklet on puppet making, which I think he actually printed himself
on a letterpress. It was a very professional job. The South Pasadena Public
Library had a copy which they gave me since I was the only person ever to
borrow it. One of my first puppet exhibits was in the library display cases
so they knew I'd value the copy. 

Like Bil Baird, Johnny had a talent for cartooning, and his business card
had a neat little mouse sketch of his. 

In the late 1940s, Johnny had TWO (duplicate) touring shows of "Alice in
Philcoland" which ran all over the United States on behalf of the Philco
Company, a major maker of radios, but also of REFRIGERATORS, which the show
was about. There were two acts---the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, followed by
Alice  with her "Before" and "After" kitchen. The first kitchen was
old-fashioned and hopelessly out of date, but by magically whisking away a
drop or curtain, suddenly Alice was in a state of the art kitchen of modern
appliances made by Philco Company.

The shows were performed in appliance stores. They were done by 3 puppeteers
on a full marionette stage.

Don George (who also had worked with Sarg) of Seattle WA was with Johnny and
Marian (Mariam?) Faust working on the West Coast. Late in the show's tour,
Don George was arrested for drunk driving and tossed in the pokey in

A frantic Johnny, now a stalwart member of Alcohlics Anonymous himself,
doing a good job of not falling off the wagon, called Don Sahlin who was
then working with Bob Baker's marionette studio (working in the garage
spaces behind the Baker-owned apartments on New Hampshire Ave, Los Angeles).
Don Sahlin filled in for two weeks, but had to get back to helping Bob Baker
manufacture some great Toy Marionettes for Bullock's Dept Stores and oher

Don called me from Riverside CA where the show was playing for a week, I
took the bus from South Pasadena to Los Angeles to Riverside, and learned
Don's part of the show. It was June, so though I was still in high school,
summer vacation was in full swing, and I was available.

The Alice show had only two more weeks to finish the tour---first in Santa
Barbara, then in San Luis Obispo CA. In both cases, the locally owned
appliance stores had to clear merchandise from the sales floor to make room
for the marionette stage and audience seating. In Santa Barbara, space as so
limited that NO merchandise was in the store!

The shows were popular with the public. And while touring, Johhny would do
non-Alice shows at children's hospitals---he may have done these for no
charge or a lower fee---I'm not sure,

A vivid memory was seeing young hospital patients in Santa Barbara wheeled
outdoors to see Johnny's variety show under California postcard skies.

One child made strange sounds throughout the show, which I found disturbing
at the time, but the nurses were ecstatic. They explained that this kid had
many problems, both physical and psychological, and this was the first time
they had heard him laugh.  I suspect this was one of the reasons Johnny did
these extra shows, because he obviously "needed" to do them.

Johnny said he had been through major alcoholic probems, and without
Alcoholics Anonymous, he'd have been dead.

Many times I wished he had begun his recovery sooner, because there was
liver damage which shortened his life.

The show ended in San Luis Obispo. On July 4th, nothing was open downtown
except a cafe. There may have been a parade, but I was ALONE in an
impersonal hotel room with white plastered walls, while other folks were out
at night seeing Fireworks displays. 

After the final show, the Fausts headed back to Chicago, and I took the
Greyhound to Los Angeles. and public transit to South Pasadena, arriving
home after 1:00 a.m. My parents and sister were asleep. 

The moon was bright, so before dragging a much- travelled family suitcase
indoors I looked around the yard at the lawn and the plants I tended---I was
home. It seemed I'd been gone longer than two weeks.

So ended my first professional job in puppetry.

I first met Don George at a National Puppetry Festival. He lent Sarg puppets
including an ALICE, to Seattle's Museum of History & Industry in 1983 while
PUPPETS: Art & Entertainment, an exhibit organized for Puppeteers of America
in 1980-83 was also at that museum. Don never knew that I replaced him on
the last shows of Alice in Philcoland.

Don's Sarg puppets disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Whether they
actually ended up in the city dump after somebody "helped Don to clean his
house" or if they walked off with the helper is not known for sure. Either
way it illustrates the perils of preserving our puppet history.
Pleas for the Sarg puppets return were unanswered, Seattle newspaper
articles chronicled this sad chapter.
At least  many including me, got to see the Sarg ALICE at The Museum of
History & Industry.

I think it was at the 1980 World Festival of Puppeteers of America/UNIMA
that I purchased a Johnny Faust "Alice"  and "White Rabbit". They will be on
display as part of our next puppet exhibit, this time at The Craft & Folk
Art Museum in Los Angeles, opening January 19-20, 2008.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 5:26 AM
Subject: puptcrit Digest, Vol 39, Issue 9

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Paul Mesner Article (Carol Sterling)
   2. Re: School Tours (Jim Menke)
   3. Re: School Tours (
   4. Re: School Tours (
   5. Re: Cable Diagrams / Wolf Puppet (Jim Boulden)
   6. Re: Cable Diagrams / Wolf Puppet (Steve Axtell)
   7. Stuff that looked useful... (Klingelhoefer, Terri S)
   8. Jim Gamble's accident (Steve Axtell)
   9. Antron Fleece and ....antron fleece (Ann Legunn)
  10. (no subject) (Klingelhoefer, Terri S)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:02:05 -0500
From: "Carol Sterling" <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Paul Mesner Article
To: <>

Thanks for sharing this wonderful article about Paul; a true professional
who brings distinction, humanity and humor to the art form we all love.
Carol Sterling 

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Steve Axtell
Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 8:54 AM
Subject: [Puptcrit] Paul Mesner Article

He was young. He was a gypsy. He was fearless.

He was one man in a Datsun pickup with a box of 
puppets and a portable stage, driving icy 
Minnesota highways. His name was Paul Mesner, and 
he prided himself on never missing a performance.

"My winter driving skills got really good," 
Kansas City's best-known puppeteer said recently.

Mesner did the Minnesota tour every year in the 
late 1970s. Now the man who never went to college considers it his

"This fellow saw me perform at a regional puppet 
festival, and he had done this school assembly 
circuit tour for many years," Mesner said. "And 
he offered me this 14-week job of doing 12 to 14 
shows a week in 10 to 12 different schools a week 
from January through May in Minnesota. So I did 
that for four years, and I think of that as my school-of-hard-knocks

It was just Mesner and the puppets as he made his 
way from town to town, school to school. Often he 
would meet school custodians at 7 a.m. to unlock 
the building so he could set up his stage.

One year the thermometer was stuck at 22 below 
for three weeks. But Mesner, who had been doing 
puppet theater in Omaha, was living an adventure.

"This was $350 a week, and I had to pay for all 
my meals and lodging and gas, but I thought it was great money."

He found hotels for $6 or $8 a night. They were 
"like out of some movie - flower-print wallpaper 
they put up in the '40s, creaky bed, bath down 
the hall. . I scrimped and saved and I came away from there saving money."

Each year the pay went up by $100. The first 
three years, he performed "Tom Sawyer" and other 
shows written by his employer using marionettes. 
By the fourth year he persuaded his boss to let 
him do his own material, and he headed out with 
the hand-and-rod puppets he prefers to this day.

"I never missed a date. I was there for every 
single date and every single show."

That changed in the spring of 1980, midway 
through the tour in his fourth year. He was 
called home to Lincoln, Neb., because one of his 
cousins, believed to be drunk and high on peyote, 
murdered another of his cousins, a caretaker at a 
Quaker meeting house. Mesner had been close to 
the victim, Janet Mesner. The killer, Randoph 
Reeves, was sentenced to death, but the family 
rallied to have the sentence commuted, in part to 
honor the memory of Janet, who vehemently opposed the death penalty.

"That was before grief counselors," Mesner said. 
"I went back on the road and was just miserable. 
I was having nightmares every night. At 3 o'clock 
I'd think I heard someone outside the hotel door. 
I was a mess. So I just canceled the tour.

"I really came out of that with a sense that life 
is so fragile and that you've got to work your 
hardest and do your very best," he said. "It 
sounds corny, but you've got to follow your 
dream. I worked very hard from that moment on, 
and I just kept thinking of Janet and what would she think."

Higher profile

Things have changed a lot since then. Mesner 
turned 50 last year, and December marked his 20th 
anniversary as a puppeteer in Kansas City. His 
first show was "The Twelve Days of Christmas" at Quality Hill Playhouse.

In an era when we've seen puppetry mainstreamed 
in two Broadway shows, "The Lion King" and 
"Avenue Q," Mesner keeps his performances 
relatively simple. He has built Paul Mesner 
Puppets into a nonprofit arts organization with a 
budget of $416,000 and four full-time staffers, 
including Mesner and his executive director, 
Diane Barker. This season includes four shows at 
Unity Temple on the Plaza, "Hansel and Gretel" at 
the Folly and the annual "Page to Stage" 
production at his studio based on writings by students.

Steve Axtell
Axtell Expressions, Inc.

The original content of this email or attachments is C Axtell Expressions,
List address:
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Message: 2
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:27:20 -0500
From: "Jim Menke" <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] School Tours

To my knowledge, Rufus Rose never did school assemblies. His variety numbers
were usually done in conjunction with the big story shows.

It might have been a puppeteer from Chicago, Johnny Faust.

On 1/7/08, Rolande Duprey <> wrote:
> Dear Steve,
> I could be wrong, but it sounds like you saw Rufus Rose. Ask the
> experts -- Fred Thompson may know.
> Rolande
> On Jan 6, 2008, at 8:44 PM, Steve Millward wrote:
> > All this talk of school tours has brought back great memories and a
> > question
> > to me.  Somewhere around 1955 or 56, I saw a wonderful marionette
> > show by a
> > traveling puppeteer (whom I suspect was with a national school
> > assemblies
> > program) at Alameda Jr. High School, in Pocatello, Idaho.  I had been
> > interested in puppets since I was very young, but this was my first
> > experience with a live marionette show.  I wonder if any
> > puppetcritters
> > might know who this artist was.  I obviously don't recall his name,
> > but I
> > vividly remember the following about him:  He had a trapeze clown, a
> > great
> > Elvis, and  a Minnie Pearl marionette.  Elvis was pretty new then,
> > but this
> > puppet's "Hound Dog" stole the show with his gyrating hips.  I still
> > remember one of the jokes the Minnie Pearl figure used:  "Here is
> > household
> > tip for you.  Have you ever gotten  postage stamps stuck together so
> > badly
> > that you can't use them?  The next time that happens to you, simply
> > run a
> > hot iron between them.  You can then mail that iron to anywhere in the
> > country!"    Funny how I still remember that over 50 years later
> > (especially
> > since I often forget where I laid my glasses 5 minutes ago)  Anyhow,
> > if
> > anyone has any idea of who this performer was, I would really
> > appreciate
> > hearing from you.  Thanks, and Happy New Year
> > Steve Millward
> > Pocatello, Idaho.
> >
> > On Jan 6, 2008 5:42 PM, Jim Menke <> wrote:
> >
> >> No one can imagine what it is like to do those school assembly
> >> tours until
> >> they have done one. I did 4 years of them back in the 50s and early
> >> 60s.Twowere in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, one was in the southwest -
> >> Florida, Georgia,
> >> N & S Carolina and Virginia and New York State (I was drafter in the
> >> middle
> >> of this last tour. All were with a full marionette stage and a
> >> partner.
> >> They
> >> were 45 minute story shows - Hansel and Gretel; Snow White and
> >> Sleeping
> >> Beauty.
> >>
> >> The agents had no concept of what it takes to do a full marionette
> >> show
> >> with
> >> the setting up, doing the show, taking down and then travel to the
> >> next
> >> school. We would be booked for 2 or 3 schools in a day, some times
> >> with a
> >> 75
> >> mile drive between shows. One agent told me that if we were running
> >> late
> >> to
> >> simple stop the show, go out in front of the stage and tell the
> >> audience
> >> how
> >> the story ended. I simply could not do that. The shows were done
> >> live - no
> >> tape recording except for music - so I worked up a short version of
> >> each
> >> show to fit the schedule.
> >>
> >> It was wonderful training for a performer, but was difficult on the
> >> body
> >> and
> >> social conditions. We were seldom in one town for a day. After the
> >> last
> >> show
> >> of the day we drove to the next town to be ready to get to a school
> >> at
> >> 7:30
> >> or 8 AM for the first show of the day.This made a social life
> >> impossible.
> >> The only rest was on a weekend and ofter we were booked into
> >> somspecial
> >> circumstance on a Sat. or Sunday. This would go on from September
> >> through
> >> the following May with a week and a half off at Christmas - 12 - 15
> >> shows
> >> per week.Travel was difficult especially in bad weather. There was
> >> one
> >> time
> >> when the grear shift handle (it was a manual transmission station
> >> wagon)
> >> broke off and we had to drive to the next show in first gear with no
> >> backing
> >> up. I got to a garage where the man drilled a hole in what was left
> >> of the
> >> shift handle and stuck a rod in it until we got to the show and
> >> then a
> >> repair shop.Anoother time in Florida we speent the weekend in Ft.
> >> Walton
> >> Beach while a hurricane blew around us. The agane insisted that we be
> >> there
> >> for Monday morning in case the school opened.
> >>
> >> Because of the physical hardships and hotel arrangements (we often
> >> got to
> >> a
> >> hotel and only one room would be available), it was not practical
> >> to have
> >> a
> >> female as the other puppeteer.
> >> This was the 50s and 60s so sharing a room was unthinkable.
> >>
> >> Of course working that closely and being with each other constantly
> >> led to
> >> some verbal fights and then we would have to do a show as if things
> >> were
> >> wonderful.
> >>
> >> Finally, I decided that I wanted a home life and no real travel. It
> >> was
> >> training I could not have gotten any other way so don't really
> >> regret it,
> >> but living at home was wonderful too.
> >>
> >> --
> >> open your mind
> >> fantasies unwind
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> List address:
> >> Admin interface:
> >> Archives:
> >>
> > _______________________________________________
> > List address:
> > Admin interface:
> > Archives:
> _______________________________________________
> List address:
> Admin interface:
> Archives:

open your mind
fantasies unwind


Message: 3
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:31:57 EST
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] School Tours
Message-ID: <>

In a message dated 1/7/08 12:27:55 PM, writes:

> To my knowledge, Rufus Rose never did school assemblies. His variety 
> numbers
> were usually done in conjunction with the big story shows.
> It might have been a puppeteer from Chicago, Johnny Faust.
> On 1/7/08, Rolande Duprey <> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Steve,
> > I could be wrong, but it sounds like you saw Rufus Rose. Ask the
> > experts -- Fred Thompson may know.
> >
> > Rolande

Start the year off right.  Easy ways to stay in shape.


Message: 4
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:45:27 EST
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] School Tours
Message-ID: <>

Sorry, Folks:
I misent an empty email...

Rolande, Jim and Steve, et al:

Jim Menke is correct in that Rufus and Margo did their Variety numbers 
following their story shows. They actually did do school shows among others
the country, and one of their first booking agents (following their success
the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago,) was The School Assembly Service. A big
for the Roses. In fact, I first saw the Roses perform at my elementary
around 1947. (A big break for me!!!) LOL

But the show Steve Milward saw was not the Roses. They never had an Elvis 
figure or a Minnie Pearl marionette as part of their Variety.   Jim may be 
correct with Johnny Faust (Faustman). He worked for Baird for a while (I
hope I am 
right about that) and some of his marionette designs were obviously
by Baird's work. I have no idea how long Johnny worked, but there is a photo

or two of him   in Paul McP's PUPPETRY Yearbooks from the late '30s or early


Hope this helps.

Fred T.

> To my knowledge, Rufus Rose never did school assemblies. His variety 
> numbers
> were usually done in conjunction with the big story shows.
> It might have been a puppeteer from Chicago, Johnny Faust.
> On 1/7/08, Rolande Duprey <> wrote:
> >
> > Dear Steve,
> > I could be wrong, but it sounds like you saw Rufus Rose. Ask the
> > experts -- Fred Thompson may know.
> >
> > Rolande

Start the year off right.  Easy ways to stay in shape.


Message: 5
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 13:46:19 -0500
From: Jim Boulden <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Cable Diagrams / Wolf Puppet
Message-ID: <p06240802c3a823c2540f-AT-[]>

Hi Liz,

When time is THAT short, think about using something already built.

Animal Makers does have a snarling wolf head in stock.  You could 
consider renting it for your show.


Good Luck with your commercial!


Jim Boulden
Animal Makers, Inc.

Designing and Performing Signature Characters
for the Advertising and Entertainment Industries Since 1979
Phone 805-527-6200 / Fax 805-527-6210


Message: 6
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2008 10:48:59 -0800
From: Steve Axtell <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Cable Diagrams / Wolf Puppet
Message-ID: <>

I've been to their shop and can recommend Animal Makers quality.  Great


At 07:45 AM 1/7/2008, you wrote:

>Hi Liz,
>When time is THAT short, think about using something already built.
>Animal Makers does have a snarling wolf head in stock.  You could
>consider renting it for your show.
>Good Luck with your commercial!
>Jim Boulden
>Animal Makers, Inc.
>Designing and Performing Signature Characters
>for the Advertising and Entertainment Industries Since 1979
>Phone 805-527-6200 / Fax 805-527-6210
>List address:
>Admin interface:
>No virus found in this incoming message.
>Checked by AVG Free Edition.
>Version: 7.5.516 / Virus Database: 
>269.17.13/1213 - Release Date: 1/7/2008 9:14 AM

Steve Axtell
Axtell Expressions, Inc.

The original content of this email or attachments is ? Axtell Expressions,


Message: 7
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:02:22 -0500
From: "Klingelhoefer, Terri S" <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] Stuff that looked useful...
To: "" <>

This year I picked up some post holiday stuff that I think will be useful I
got a couple of packages of heavy plastic hooks for securing tree lights to
gutters or some such that look like they have in booth rigging potential and
possibly could be used in some puppets to hold cables/props where you want
them. Also picked up a peachy keen remote for controlling two outdoor
displays. The remote comes with a pair of plug in boxes that you can plug
whatever into and then use the remote to trigger each thing separately. I
picked up a red soft sided foldable wheely case for up to a 75 ft Christmas
tree with handle at one end and on top. I expect I will be able to schlep a
number of puppets/props/ curtains etc. in there and the handled plastic case
it came in offers more storage for other things. I also got a large
pre-packaged columnar foam chunk designed to make a marshmallow witch thing.
I plan to cut it into large chunks for foam carving (The clearance Halloween
stuff in the back of the store is sometimes cheaper than the same thing done
Christmas on clearance in the front of the store.) locally it is hard to get
large chunks of foam suitable for making heads, etc. 75% off is pretty good.

I considered the spray glitters, snows and adhesives but refrained. I found
some shoe/boot ornaments that look the right size for marionette feet. I
picked up some 40-80 ft extension cords. (Forest green is the new
black.)Also fun was the feather boa gift ribbon. I only got green and blue,
as I was a reluctant lemming this year. If you really want to be a lemming,
you have to get up very early the day after Christmas ( or Thanksgiving) and
go shopping. These are my family's designated Lemming Day holidays. Lemming
Day- the day when people with nothing really to do... go out en masse and
spend money they don't really have... for things they don't really need. The
one who spends the most is declared the winner and is entitled to lead the
snoring chorus in the post Lemming Day shopping nap. For those who do not
celebrate as my people-- cast not aspersions on the diversions of my
culture, lest someone look into your own junk drawer.:).

Best wishes!
Terri Klingelhoefer
Primary Player
Klingel-Engle Puppets
7251 West State Rd 46
Ellettsville IN 47429
812-876-3540 land line
812-325-9326 cell


Message: 8
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2008 14:59:43 -0800
From: Steve Axtell <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] Jim Gamble's accident
Message-ID: <>

Dear Puptcrit friends....Jim called me last week and told me about 
his terrible bicycle accident Oct 13th.  I had not yet heard but I 
wondered why I hadn't seen any puptcrit posts by him in a few 
months.   I asked him if I should post something and he said it would 
be alright.   He's going to write something up himself eventually as 
he can.  He's a very lucky guy, and smart...he was wearing a bike 
helmet.  He seemed to be in very good spirits, and grateful that his 
puppet team was able to cover all the holiday shows... and that he is 
doing much better than the health care system thought he could 
do!  Go JIM!    I look forward to seeing his own post one of these 
days and until then I will pray for his quick and full recovery.



Message: 9
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 21:30:35 -0500
From: "Ann Legunn" <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] Antron Fleece and ....antron fleece
Message-ID: <p0624080dc3a890abdaaa-AT-[]>

I spoke with a wholesaler of Antron Fleece today and he spoke of "the 
new antron fleece" not the old fleece like the Muppets used.

  So I'm wondering if anyone has experience with the two and what is 
the difference?

Thank you, Ann Legunn -AT- the PuppeTree Inc.


Message: 10
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 08:26:37 -0500
From: "Klingelhoefer, Terri S" <>
Subject: [Puptcrit] (no subject)
To: "" <>

Hi folks,

I sometimes look at devices intended to help people with disabilities for
switch ideas. There is a company called "Enabling Devices" where I have
picked up some button switches for things in the past.  Right now they have
a 4 device cross toggle switch on clearance for -AT- $28 that looks
interesting. I haven't tried it, but I thought I would pass the resource
along to those of you who might actually have more need than I do for such
an item. They also have a lit single big button style switch on clearance.

Sometimes what they had can be gotten elsewhere cheaper, but even at that it
is a great place to get ideas of what might be possible.

Best wishes!
Terri Klingelhoefer
Primary Player
Klingel-Engle Puppets
7251 West State Rd 46
Ellettsville IN 47429
812-876-3540 land line
812-325-9326 cell


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