Oz Puppets of Childhood

This year I have spent far more time than I ever dreamed possible exploring the fascinating world of Oz puppets. The Spring 2018 issue of The Baum Bugle will be Club members’ first exposure to the result; as a preview I’m using my blog to cover one of the aspects of Oz puppetry that won’t make the Bugle pages—fun memories many members have of their own Oz puppets and childhood Oz puppet shows.

I have vivid memories of playing with Hazelle marionettes growing up. My sister had the Scarecrow, I had a bear, and we both had girls. Not quite the cast for an Oz puppet production, but many hours of fun in our homemade cardboard theater.

Today my collection includes the Hazelle set (above left), a vintage pair of handmade marionettes of the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow (right), and a delightful Tin Man I found on Etsy (below left). The pair was purchased from another collector so I don’t know who made them, but they were clearly used many, many times. Oh, and there are dozens of mass-produced hand puppets smiling up at me including a few from overseas.

We have lots of puppet stories. I remember Willard Carroll telling me about the afternoon he emptied and washed enough jam jars to get all three of the Return to Oz plush puppets in 1985. Or David Diket using Multi-toy dolls as puppets to act out The Wizard of Oz for his home movie productions.

Have you a story you’re willing by to share? Please use the comments feature of this blog to tell us about the Oz puppet adventures of your childhood. Puppets you made, shows you staged, and fun tales of acquisitions. Bring ‘em on!

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