Legendary puppeteer Bob Baker, founder of one of the world’s oldest and longest-running children’s theater companies and who orchestrated marionette work for scores of films and TV, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 90.
A Los Angeles native, Baker’s marionettes entertained children and adults worldwide for more than 70 years. He began manufacturing marionettes while attending Hollywood High School, and after graduation became an apprentice at the George Pal Animation Studios.
After World War II, Baker served as an animation advisor at many film studios, including Disney. His work was featured in fims ranging from Disney’s Bedknobs And Broomsticks to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and A Star Is Born (1954 version). His TV work included Bewitched, Star Trek and Land Of The Giants. He created the hand puppet series Time For Beany on KTLA and worked in local TV with the series Adventures Of Bobo in the late 1940s.
He launched the Bob Baker Marionette Company with partner Alton Wood in 1963. In 2009, the theater’s location on First Street was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
Baker was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and served as governor of the animation branch of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.