File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 235


Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 08:33:13 -0500
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Walton & O'Rourke


Love of Seven Dolls is the original story, a novel by Paul Gallico.  I 
haven't read it for years, but I remember being captivated.
Monica

On Oct 15, 2008, at 5:55 AM, segalpuppets-AT-comcast.net wrote:

> Alan,
> What is the history of the (seemingly little known) musical Carnival? 
> That was based on Lili, wasn't it?
> And where does the title "For Love of Seven Dolls" come from?
>
> Thanks,
> Mark
>
> -------------- Original message --------------
> From: "Alan Cook" <alangregorycook-AT-msn.com>
>
>> We googled Paul Walton & Michael O'Rourke tonight. References came up 
>> for MGM's
>> LILI, of course, noting that Paul worked Marguerite, Michael worked 
>> the Fox,
>> Wolo worked the Giant, and George Latshaw did Carrot Top. The full 
>> credits do
>> not appear at the end of the movie.
>>
>> Jim Menke has already pointed out that LILI is based on a short story 
>> in the
>> Saturday Evening Post in 1950, called "The Man Who Hated People" 
>> written by Paul
>> Gallico.
>>
>> Helen Deutsch wrote the LILI script for MGM (1952). The words for "Hi 
>> Lili, Hi
>> Lo" basically appeared in a story she had written previously, and 
>> were set to
>> music by Branislau Kaper. Because the words were not original to the 
>> movie, the
>> song was not eligible for an Academy nomination, but the film score 
>> was.
>>
>> During the filming, Helen Deutsch had lunches with George Latshaw, 
>> asking him
>> lots of questions about hand puppetry--the techniques and the 
>> philosophy behind
>> the art, how characters are created, etcetera. I like to think a bit 
>> of George
>> ended up in the script. It would be part of the reason LILI is highly 
>> regarded
>> by puppeteers. And of course, Leslie Caron proved to be an ideal 
>> audience of
>> one, the way she related to the puppet characters in LILI.
>>
>> Like Fran Allison & the Kuklapolitans, Leslie had no interest in 
>> seeing the
>> puppets when they were not onstage.
>> That helped to keep them alive.
>>
>> AFTER the film's 1953 release, Gallico expanded his short story into 
>> a novel. I
>> think he incorporated some of Helen Deutsch's script concepts. The 
>> original
>> magazine short story was set in a TV studio, if I remember correctly, 
>> so it
>> would appear that Helen Deutsch really did study up on puppetry and 
>> contributed
>> much to the film's story development.
>>
>> In one printing, he dedicated the novel to Burr Tillstrom, who was an 
>> influence
>> on the whole thing (pioneer puppeteer on American TV from Chicago, 
>> where a great
>> deal of American TV was invented).
>>
>> Burr surprised me once, that he had considered suing for basing the 
>> LILI puppet
>> show on "Kukla, Fran & Ollie". You had puppets on their stage, and a 
>> human being
>> out front talking with the puppets. Early TV in America was a very 
>> LOCAL affair,
>> with LOCAL stations (no networks) and many of them had their own 
>> puppet shows
>> based on the same format. Bud Root worked that way in Topeka KS, just 
>> to mention
>> one example.
>>
>> A hundred years earlier, a Punch Show might have a person out front. 
>> G I BLUES
>> with Elvis used the same format with Bob Baker puppets on the puppet 
>> stage. The
>> format could be considered generic. I'm glad Burr gave up the thought 
>> of a
>> lawsuit.
>>
>> Michael grew up in Seattle. The Mantell Manikins appeared on 
>> Vaudeville programs
>> there and were born in nearby Everett, W and made 3 tours, reaching 
>> Australia &
>> Singapore as well as crossing the USA where a young Bil Baird saw 
>> them.
>>
>> Michael (then known as Carlyle) drew numerous sketches, including 
>> renderings of
>> his sister Huberta Swensen's husband, while living 4 years in the 
>> Swenson's
>> Seattle household. Those sketches became the basis for one of Walton &
>> O'Rourke's marionettes which still exists.
>>
>> Michael went to sea with the merchant marines, visiting Japan, where 
>> he got to
>> look at traditional puppets there. Probably Bunraku puppets, since he 
>> spoke of
>> puppet hands with moving fingers, animated eyes, mouths, even 
>> transformation
>> heads which could look like lovely maidens, then change into horned 
>> and toothy
>> beings.
>>
>> I really don't know when either Michael or Paul began puppet work. 
>> Both were
>> artists to begin with. Paul attended Otis art school in Los Angeles. 
>> At some
>> point, Michael worked in movie special effects, and spoke of a mentor 
>> who must
>> have been Charles Cristodoro. That seems to have been before puppet 
>> work. But
>> Cris also built puppets.
>>
>> I wish we had thought to ask Paul where he grew up, or how he got 
>> into puppet
>> making. His girl friend Stella (who lived in Pomona then), later ran 
>> a doll &
>> puppet shop in Los Angeles, and Paul & Stella were lifelong friends 
>> so that
>> could be a factor?
>> (In old age they were married).
>>
>> Michael loved the mechanics aspect and the design element.
>>
>> They were both so good at what they did, and already had a fine 
>> reputation when
>> I met them, it just seemed that they always had been puppeteers.
>>
>> Kaper's music certainly deserved an Oscar, for the way the score 
>> related to each
>> scene, some people saying that it held the movie together. Actually 
>> just about
>> everything fit together and worked together....the cast, the puppets, 
>> the
>> dances, the music
>>
>> At the time of the MGM Auction, it was possible to wander about the 
>> back lots.
>> Lot #3 had the bridge, and the shops and harbor (without water) 
>> featured in the
>> film. For a fan, it was thrilling to tread the area.
>>
>> I just wish they had let Walton & O'Rourke make the dancers' masks. 
>> They would
>> have looked more like the puppets.
>>
>> In some references on the internet, it is stated that Walton & 
>> O'Rourke founded
>> their Olvera Street Puppet Theater (1935) in Hollywood. Well, their 
>> address at
>> #21 Olvera Street is right in the center of the birthplace of LOS 
>> ANGELES, not
>> in Hollywood. You can easily walk from there to City Hall.
>>
>> I can see why many think of the LILI score as equivalent to an actor 
>> in the
>> film, since it has many emotions.
>>
>> ALAN COOK
>>
>>
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Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre
319 N. Calhoun, POB 330
West Liberty, IA. 52776
http://www.puppetspuppets.com

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