Said to be the oldest children's theater company in Los Angeles and longest-running puppet theater in the United States, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has delighted children and children-at-heart for 55 years. However, the theater will soon be losing it has performed in for nearly six decades and is now offering its final performances there between now and November 23, 2018.
Bob Baker was a puppeteer whose relationship with puppets goes back to age eight when he began learning to perform with Los Angeles puppet companies. By the time he was in high school, toy marionettes that he made were being sold as far away as Europe.
After high school and in the years after World War II, Baker entered the film industry where he ended up working and advising in feature films such as Bluebeard, A Star is Born, G.I. Blues, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and in television programs such as Bewitched, Star Trek, Land of the Giant and NCIS.
In 1963, Baker and partner Alton Wood opened the Bob Baker Marionette Theater at 1345 West First Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Their marionettes regularly performed there since. The theater was designed a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Landmark in 2009.
In 2014, after 82 years of puppeteering, Bob Baker died at age 90. His theater, however, continued to carry on his work and concepts of puppetry and performance. It now operates as a non-profit arts and educational organization.
Due to a planned apartment development project at the theater’s Downtown Los Angeles location, it was announced in October 2018 that, after 55 years in that venue, it had to move. The theater performed the Best of Bob Baker – The Farewell 1345 Shows at the 1345 West First Street location through November 23, 2018 (which, incidentally, was the same day in November, 55 years ago, that the theater opened). The following day, on November 24, Bob Baker Marionette Theater opened Baker's Nutcracker at the Pasadena Playhouse, with performances through December 30, 2018. Sometime in 2019, the theater plans to continue with new performances at a yet-to-be-disclosed new venue in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Downtown News (Goodbye Puppet Palace, Nov. 12, 2018), the developer of the theater’s original site stated that he intends to offer the Bob Baker Marionette Theater the opportunity to return to its original location in Downtown Los Angeles.
Bob Baker's Marionettes - the oldest children's theatre company in Los Angeles and a local cultural icon.