Bob Baker, Legendary Puppeteer, Dies At 90 Of Natural Causes

Legendary puppeteer Bob Baker died on Friday at the age of 90 of natural causes in his Los Angeles home.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Baker died in his home in Los Angeles.

Bob Baker was mostly known in recent years as one of the founders of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the longest-running and oldest children’s theater company worldwide.

However, the stage and screen career of Bob Baker (which lasted longer than eight decades) extended far beyond the walls of that building.

Bob Baker’s performances were featured in such popular films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind as well as Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

His marionettes were also seen on the big screen alongside Judy Garland in the 1954 remake of A Star is Born.

In addition to playing an instrumental role in the Bob Baker Marionette Theater since 1963, Baker also was the governor of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences in the past as well as the governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Quite a few film studios over the years relied on Bob Baker as their animation advisor.

Bob Baker first started playing with marionette puppets when he was 5-years-old. The Hollywood Reporter states that, at that age, he was taken to a puppet show at a downtown department store by his father. Henrie Gordon performed in the toy department of Bullock’s Wilshire the following year, which was when Bob Baker was introduced to her as his first teacher.

Baker trained with multiple companies in his local area throughout his childhood years, starting with the first professional performance when he was only 8-years-old.

Receiving a medical discharge from the Army Air Corps during World War II allowed the Hollywood High School graduate the chance to start an animation apprenticeship offered by George Pal Studios.

Less than one year later, Baker was the chief animator for Puppetoons.

During the labor union disputes, Bob Baker decided to leave George Pal Studios and started manufacturing his own toy marionettes for sale in the United States and Europe.

Baker was also known for creating the window displays that were used to showcase his toy marionettes in a wide variety of Los Angeles department stores. The Hollywood Reporter even states that the famous window displays currently being used on Main Street in Disneyland were originally created by Bob Baker.

[Image Credit: Laim Yours & The Hollywood Reporter]