File puptcrit/puptcrit.0810, message 84

Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2008 13:01:36 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Topo Gigio & other puppet patents /plus thoughts

Here is a link to Hazel marionettes patent.  To find patents online you
might know about google patent search. You open up google and on the right
side of the menu bar click "more" and at the bottom of that window click on
"even more" and on the next page you will find patent search where her
patents can be searched easily  Here are three.

On Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 7:00 PM, Alan Cook <> wrote:

> David Covarrubias-
> Please post the U.S. Patent number and filing date for Topo Gigo. With it,
> it is easy to access a copy at several patent departments of major Public
> Libraries, including the central Los Angeles Public Library. Without the
> number and date, it can take a couple of days searching.
> I have not checked, but would not be surprised if nowdays it could be found
> also on line.
> Hazelle Marionettes claimed a patented marionette control. Has anyone ever
> found THAT patent? I've always wondered how you could patent a basic
> airplane control for marionettes. Maybe because it was painted red?
> Many patentable puppet ideas cost to much to process. Others have probably
> been filed which were already in wide use.
> Early Disney animatronics patents according to rumour, were buried in
> different patent locations, instead of being of a piece, making it difficult
> to verify if they really were patentble or  not, thus discouraging
> competitors. When I worked with the Krofft puppet show at Six Flags Over
> Texas (Amusement Park in Arlington TX) the park management hired an
> "ex-Disney employee" to create an animatronic lifesize  figure of Will
>  Rogers.
>  I could never understand why the animatronic puppet was set up outdoors in
> an open-air performance space, subject to a lot of airbourne Texas Dust.
> Not surprisingly, the figure's premiere public appearance proved to be a
> dud, a failure. After a few more tries, poor Will was whipped, never to be
> seen in public again.
> Perhaps a few gleeful glasses were raised in Disney corporate offices.
> Ernest Woolff built a miniature (rod) puppet opera in the basement of his
> Chicago home, with the help of his mother , Esther. Their invention was
> patented August 17, 1943  Patent #2,327,234. The pictorial diagram is shown
> on page 348 in Paul McPharlin's THE PUPPET THEATRE IN AMERICA, but to get
> the explanatory text, you need to check the rest of the patent.
> Ernest did mini opera for RCA's World Fair exhibit. When he joined the U.S.
> Navy, the puppets were installed at the Kungsholm Restaurant's lovely puppet
> theater where they became a major tourist attraction. Many other puppeteers
> built similar rod puppets for Kungsholm, some with added improvements. Some
> were built in the basement of puppeteer Ruth Hill's family home, where many
> Chicago Puppet Guild meetings and a marionette stage shared space. As a
> visiting puppeteer, I even slept there a few times.
> Kungsholm's first opera, LA TRAVIATA, opened February 1942. A fire caused
> extensive damage in 1947. The theater was rebuilt in 1948, and I vsited it
> in one weekend (1954) while at Ft Sheridan, (north of Chicago) a whole two
> weeks. Fredrik Chramer, who had a toy theater as a boy, loved owning the
> restaurant's miniature opera. After his death the opera was supposed to
> continue under new ownership, but in a couple of years, the opera was done
> with. Some of the many puppets were displayed at the Field Museum for a
> time.
> When museums lack puppet partisans on staff or lack outside pressure to
> care for puppets in their possession, they often get lost.
> Does anyone in Chicago know what happened to the Kungsholm figures?
> Also in PUPPET THEATRE IN AMERICA, on page 346, another patent pictorial
> diagram is shown. which was filed by Mathurin Dondo for rod puppets. Filing
> date was July 22, 1924, #1,502,236.
> In the 19th Century and early 20th century, large marionette companies were
> known to build a tent around their marionette stage, to keep prying eyes
> from learning trade secrets of staging and puppet construction.
> The tent was cheaper than filing patents. But of course, other marionette
> troupes basically used the same "secrets".
> Tony Sarg, often thought of as the George Washington of American puppetry,
> was not allowed backstage at marionette shows in England. So he'd sit in the
> front row and try peeking upward at the marionette controls and from that
> began figuring out how things were done.
>  The Puppeteers of America, in early years fostered the sharing of
> construction and performing secrets, realizing that the real secret was in
> the atistry and talent of the performer. You can't exactly patent that!
> And of course,. for the most part, every string puppet show was using the
> same basic "secrets" anyway.
>  From the 1920s on, many how-to books have let most of the cats out of the
> bags.
> Betsy Brown, headquartered in Southern California, was teaching puppetry at
> many different colleges beginning in the 1960s,  including Los Angeles
> Valley College, Cal State U Northridge and University of California Irvine.
> Most of the students were classroom teachers, and many made effective use of
> puppets to enliven their students' interest.
> But one phrase Betsy used frequently in her puppet courses, was "anyone can
> be a puppeteer". My brain would say to itself, "anyone can be a brain
> surgeon too, but I would be careful which one I picked."
> I felt that what was overlooked in those puppet classes, was pointing out
> that our top professional puppeteers WERE better than average, WERE
> deserving of special respect and admiration, and WERE a source of
> inspiration Anyone can paint a picture, too, but not all of us are
> Rembrandt, Picasso or Vincent van Gogh. It is fine to encourage fledgling
> puppeteers, but a dose of humility is also helpful.
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