Monday, April 27, 2009

BIL BAIRD'S "Alice In Wonderland"

I am loooooooong overdue for a posting about the late great puppet master of his domain; the marionette monarch of all he surveys, the one and only BIL BAIRD! I'm going to do a jam-packed post real soon, but right now his production of Alice In Wonderland has been floating around Cyberia, so this here is dedicated to that there.

After his wife CORA passed away, Bil despaired of ever finding a female puppeteer of superior skill to take her place. Then one day, answering an ad in the trades along with 300 other applicants, in walks OLGA FELGEMACHER. Olga is a graduate of Northwestern University, and she cut her puppetry teeth touring the country with the wonderful Nicolo Marionettes. Bil was her childhood idol, and there was no turning back. So, after stealing her courage, she climbed onto that FRICKIN' SCARY RAIL-LESS MARIONETTE BRIDGE and? Nailed it! For the next eight season, Olga became leading lady at the Bil Baird Marionette Theater in New York City and on multiple national tours.

Bil & Olga. Her first roles were Christopher Robin, Tigger and one of the two Cottleston Pie Mice in WINNIE THE POOH. Bil was Eeyore.

Olga went on to play the female lead in every production at the theatre (and most of the boy leads too, including Pinocchio), as well appearing on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and dozens of commercials. ALICE IN WONDERLAND was the last show Bil produced at his theater.
Autographed poster hangs in our living room.

Olga not only played the live-action Alice seen when the show opens . . .

. . . she also puppeteered and voiced both the marionette Alice and the Red Queen. . .


. . . in her Alice costume!!!!
It was great all around that Olga walked in that day and got to work so closely with the genius that was Bil Baird. I'm pretty lucky too. I met Olga right when Bil closed his theatre and she was working for the Muppets on Sesame Street & the first Muppet Movie. We fell in love, started our own Flexitoon company, I married her, we have a son Gabriel, and we're partners in everything this life has to offer.

Olga backstage in Alice costume.

Photos of Olga in her Alice costume by Steven Widerman


  1. I LOVE ALICE IN WONDERLAND! wow that is awesome! what a great person Olga is she is the real Alice in wonderland love her costume and all that it is its friggin awesome and the puppet show looks crazy!

    For more alice in wonderland check her out here!

  2. Dear Craig,

    This brings back wonderful memories..I remember seeing Olga's

    work with Bil Baird's Puppet Theater in NYC's Greenwich Village

    back in the 1970's.

    She was wonderful as a live Alice and as her puppet cpunterpart.

    She was also engaging as The Queen of Hearts and as Pinocchio.

    It';s sad that we lost Poor Bil after his puppet musical version of

    Alice eneded.


    This bloq will maintain his legacies of puppetry?

    Thanks for sharing this rare look at Olga's early work as one of

    Bil Baird's most creative and talented proetegs,


  3. Does anyone remember the name of the 50s TV show starring Bill Baird puppets in which the characters lived on a cloud or in the clouds?

  4. I think that was a Bell Telephone training film.