File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 193


Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 20:47:44 -0400
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Modified marionettes-"Bo Jangles"


Thats cool.  I'd love to have see that.  Now what other niche internet club
has honored Bill Bo Jangles this week as we have.  I got an e-mail from an
English ad agency this summer about whether a bunraku puppet could do a tap
routine like Fred Astaire and while i said I couldn't personally do that and
referred them to Phillip, I did consider one of the Hastings bodies who very
well could have done it.  These old figures have alot in them I agree with
Alan.

On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 6:53 PM, Gregory Ballora
<gregballora-AT-sbcglobal.net>wrote:

>  One of the most amazing things that I got to see this weekend at
> the Santa Monica Puppet Festival was our very own Bob Baker
> performing his "Bo Jangles" character. Apparently it was officially
> approved by Bill Robinson's widow, and it is a really beautiful
> looking small marionette, but to see it dancing was astonishing to
> me. Bob performed to a recording of Bo Jangles dancing and calling
> out the steps as he did them. I know just enough about tap dancing to
> know that Bob represented every step! It was the most amazing
> marionette dance I have ever seen. And I doubt Bob ever put plastic
> wood over his face.
> Or the puppet's.
>
> Greg
>
>
> On Oct 13, 2008, at 3:35 PM, Hobey Ford wrote:
>
> > I am very happy with my costume-less antique marionettes.  They
> > have kinetic
> > memory.  They know how to swing dance and will do it for you.  My
> > friend
> > Clyde who discovered the Harlem Dancers in the random two
> > marionettes I gave
> > him, restored his figures and one night he was at his trailor at
> > Merlefest
> > where he was performing.  We had decided that the male dancer was
> > modelled
> > after the sophisticated legend of the time Bill "Bo Jangles"
> > Robinson and
> > that his partner was also a ringer for Josephine Baker. Sue never
> > named them
> > but they do seem to be drawn after them considering Robinson and
> > Baker's
> > popularity at the time.   Hastings 1939 NY Worlds Fair show was
> > full of
> > portrait marionettes.  Back to Clyde, he was listening to the live
> > radio
> > broadcast of the festival back at his trailor and got out the Bo
> > Jangles
> > figure and danced him to the music.  Then Jerry Jeff Walker who
> > penned the
> > song "Mr. Bo Jangles" took the stage and began singing it.  Clyde
> > let the
> > puppet do its thing and he said later that all alone with the
> > marionette he
> > gave his best performance. The next day Clyde saw Walker walking
> > through the
> > back stage area and got his attention and showed him the Bo Jangles
> > marionette.  Clyde wanted to get Jerry to have his picture made
> > with the
> > marionette, but he refused relating that he had gotten into a lot
> > of grief
> > for the song because it depicted Bo Jangles as  bum where as the
> > real bo
> > Jangles was not.  The song it turned out was about a street tapping
> > bum who
> > had taken on Bo Jangeles moniker.  Jerry Jeff Walker on the other hand
> > wanted a photo taken with the Josephine Baker marionette and
> > couldn't get
> > enough of that puppet.  So after 70 years of lying around in a
> > trunks among
> > a collection of 4000 marionettes. He was reunited with his partner
> > in the
> > act and met the man who made Bo Jangles name famous again all within 6
> > months after emerging from a dusty trunk, Sepia getting a plastic
> > wood face
> > lifted off, and reuniting with his partner, she having been
> > camoflaged for
> > 30 years as Jimmy Carter and her body hiding inside of a Santa Claus
> > marionette. (including high heels)Not to mention it was Valentines
> > day of
> > black history month that I gave them to Clyde.    What I cannot
> > fathom is
> > that Sue's cousin who had worked for the Metropolitan Museum and at
> > the time
> > of reconnecting with Sue was being interviewed by Dorlis G. for the
> > book on
> > Sue Hasting and knowing all of that and being an original member of
> > the
> > company, that she could alter those perhaps most famous Hastings
> > figures (
> > because of their inclusion in Baird's "Art of the Puppet") into
> > Jimmy Carter
> > and a Black disco dancer in gold lame.  Perhaps she considered them
> > race
> > puppets and disdained that, which would be the most generous
> > explaination.
> > She had also transformed another of the "race puppets".  I really
> > can't say
> > for sure, but I can see a B&W Hitchcock movie all about it.
> > Puppets can be
> > very mysterious.
> >
> > On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 1:02 PM, Alan Cook
> > <alangregorycook-AT-msn.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Hobey Ford's archeological adventures with a dozen Sue Hastings
> >> puppets
> >> make for an interesting story. Too many times, someone like Jessie
> >> Morrow,
> >> out of ignorance of the IMPORTANCE of maintaining the original
> >> integrity of
> >> certain puppets, can destroy something of historical/artistic
> >> value, and
> >> create an object of less interest. It would have been better if
> >> she had made
> >> new puppets, using the old ones as inspiration.
> >>
> >> That Hobey has been able to undo some damage and restore puppets to
> >> something approximate to the original condition, is a real
> >> contribution to
> >> our collective history.
> >>
> >> Some other Sue Hastings puppets have been "modified" by at least
> >> one other
> >> person, alas.
> >>
> >> Sue Hastings is an important American puppeteer. As such, her
> >> puppets have
> >> more value than some anonymous amateur puppets which surface on e-
> >> bay or in
> >> yard sales.
> >>
> >> But sometimes even amateur yard sale puppets need to be preserved, as
> >> examples of folk art, or rare examples of regional puppetry.
> >>
> >> Around 1979, I visited Grand Rapids, Michigan, to see some
> >> marionettes
> >> created for/by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the
> >> Great
> >> Depression. A local puppeteer, well meaning, had recycled these
> >> historic
> >> figures, turning some into clowns.
> >>
> >> If you repaint a Rembrandt, it is no longer a Rembrandt, and much
> >> harm is
> >> done. Value is lost.
> >>
> >> After my calling this fact to the attention of the puppeteer who
> >> modified
> >> the WPA figures, I hope that she made no further modifications.
> >> She seemed
> >> apologetic.
> >>
> >> Hobey is right on, when he says a puppeteer can often learn by
> >> studying old
> >> puppets and their construction,
> >> Earlier this year he visited our exhibit in Los Angeles at the
> >> Craft & Folk
> >> Art Museum, and had a chance to study puppets by several important
> >> puppeteers.
> >>
> >> Hobey has a good eye when it comes to preservation of and
> >> appreciation for
> >> old puppets. He also understands the importance of written or
> >> photographic
> >> material, the available documentation, and the provenance.
> >>
> >> When old puppets are no longer in working condition, they can
> >> still have
> >> something to teach us---they still have value, like old folks in
> >> retirement
> >> homes, they have worthy memories.
> >>
> >> ALAN COOK
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Hobey Ford
> >> Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 7:29 AM
> >> To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
> >> Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Hastings marionette details
> >>
> >> Sue Hastings took a class taught by Charles (Max?) Searle, Sarg's
> >> builder,
> >> but thought he was holding back the good stuff so she is said to
> >> have  told
> >> Sarg  so on one of his visits to the class, and went right over to
> >> his
> >> marionettes and examined them and satisified, left.  She basically
> >> imitated
> >> his style but didn't get so techical with her mechanisms.  She
> >> became his
> >> biggest competition.   Dorlis Grubidge's book Sue Hastings Puppet
> >> Showwoman
> >> is very well researched and written.  When I was trying to figure
> >> out what
> >> I
> >> had been given by the State Theater, her book gave me hints and
> >> clues.  It
> >> was so fun.  Here I had this pile of boxes filled with marionette
> >> stuff and
> >> photos and scrapbooks, but it had all been recycled and there were
> >> hints
> >> that these boxes of birthday party gear had more to them.  When my
> >> friend
> >> Clyde popped off Jimmy Carter's plastic wood face and found
> >> "Sepia" the
> >> harlem dancer's face we knew there was a mystery.  It was puppet
> >> anthropology.   One of the coolest coincidences was this little
> >> article by
> >> Sue's couisin telling of taking one of Sue's puppets that she had
> >> bought
> >> years before on a visit to Sue on her death bed.  By the
> >> description I
> >> found
> >> the marionette and then with Dorlis' book I glanced at a  date in
> >> the book
> >> which was that days date, Sue 's Birthday.  So here I was holding
> >> the last
> >> puppet she came into contact with the day before she died and I
> >> discovered
> >> it on her birthday.  Thus the title of the article "the secret
> >> life of
> >> puppets".  They seemed to be waiting to be re-discovered.  When
> >> you operate
> >> them stripped down of later post-Sue "modifications" Its like the
> >> original
> >> craftspeoples intentions reveal themselves.  I think much can be
> >> learned by
> >> handling these old figures, which unfortuately is mostly impossible.
> >>
> >>
> >> On Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 5:52 PM, <puppetpro-AT-aol.com> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Thanks, Hobey.
> >>> I also loved your article a while back about the other Hastings
> >> marionette
> >>> discovered/uncovered/recovered !  Very interesting stuff. Did Sue
> >> Hastings
> >>> learn from Max Searle, Tony Sarg's builder?
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Rolande
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: Hobey Ford <hobeyone-AT-gmail.com>
> >>> To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
> >>> Sent: Sun, 12 Oct 2008 11:14 am
> >>> Subject: [Puptcrit] Hastings marionette details
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Have a look at some photos of a  Sue Hastings head and then a black
> >>> character of Sue's as well.  The knee joints were unusual for
> >>> Hastings
> >>> knees
> >>> because of the ball and socket fit of the joint.  It was
> >>> originally a
> >> black
> >>> character but Sue's couisin Jessie Morrow used it in a Rip Van
> >>> Winkle
> >> show
> >>> for empoyees at The Metropolitan Museum sometime in the mid
> >>> sixties.  I
> >>> discovered the body was black beneath a coat of paint and under the
> >> ribbon
> >>> covered wax hands.   The black head was an extra when I got it
> >>> but on
> >>> careful examination found that it belonged to this once black
> >>> body.  As
> >>> with
> >>> all the figures there was a lot of undoing of Jessie's
> >>> modifications to
> >> get
> >>> down to original parts.  I have around twelve figures and 20 or
> >>> so heads.
> >>> None were left intact by her cousin but were recycled into
> >>> birthday party
> >>> show figures.  You can find the Cepia and Celephane figures at
> >>> the photo
> >>> gallery as well.
> >>>
> >>> http://www.hobeyford.com/album/hasting-marionette-details
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> >>>
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