Monday, May 25, 2009

The incomparable PADY BLACKWOOD

I used to go to the World's Fair in Queens just to visit the Chrysler Show-Go-Round. Not that I cared at all about cars (when I finally learned to drive @ age 23, my friend asked what kind of car I wanted, and I said "orange.") No, the Chrysler Show-Go-Round was home to THE BIL BAIRD MARIONETTES.

I would watch it over and over, get back on line, and watch it again. But that's another post for another time.

(pictured: Carby Carburator, more often than not manipulated by Rod Young)

Then one day I discovered there was another puppet show on the Fair grounds - - LES POUPEE de PARIS (pronounced Paree)

It was created by Sid & Marty Krofft, several years before they hit it super big in TV with the clunky HR PUFENSTUFF et al.

The show was an extravaganza - - filled with celebrity puppets and spectacle and glitz. It was really pretty great. After the show they would let us go backstage! You'd enter an auditorium door SR, they'd lead you across the backstage area, then out you'd go into the Fair SL. But not me. I was backstage and I wasn't leaving. I saw an artistic-looking fellow in black, and I caught his eye and blurted out "I'm a puppeteer too." He said "I bet you are." "I even make my own puppets" I said. "That's what a real puppeteer does" he replied in a way that I never forgot (no, duh.)

Then he asked if I "would you like to watch the next performance from back. . ." "YES!!!!!" ". . stage?" He showed me where to sit (if I remember correctly through these rosy bifocals) it was on a raised platform off-stage left. Ocassionally during this amazing production, he would come over to make sure I was alright, that I could see OK, etc. It was thrilling. After the show, this puppet artist who made such a great impression on me, shook my hand at the stage door - - (once the audience had filled past yet again) - - and said "My name is PADY BLACKWOOD" and off I went, walking on Air-Thru-The-Fair, thinking about Pady Blackwood. Somehow - - I found myself on line once again at the Show-Go-Round.

Next post, Olga reminices about many a Pady shenanagin at Baird's theater. . .


  1. Dear Craig,

    I remember seeing The Chrylser Show Go Round Theater at
    The 1964/1965 NYC World's Fair.

    It was one hell of a show!

    My family and I watched and I enjoyed it..I don't know how my

    parents and brothers felt about the show?

    I enjoyed the conversations that "Carby The Carborator"had with

    the car Company exec in the film and with the host of the live

    puppet show.

    I saw that puppet once more years later..when my brother and I

    attended Lincon Center's anniversary..the center had the Bil Baird

    Puppets on exhibit on glass display cases.

    As far I as I know?

    Mr.Baird didn't do any live puppet shows at Lincon Center for

    it's anniversary..he did do a puppet show on tape for a children's

    tv special honoring the center for NBC TV's and Howard Johnson's

    "American Rainbow"minni series of kids tv specials back in the


    ("Carby" was not a part of that taped puppet show the puppets

    that Mr.Baird used were soldiers on horseback)

    Sadly,I never got to see The Krofts do their puppet show at The

    Fair..I wouldn't get to see them perform..until they made their tv

    debut on NBC a decade later with"H.R.Puffinstuff".

    Thanks For Sharing these pieces of puppetry history,


  2. My name is Paul Ransom. I attended a puppet making class given by Rod Young at the Museaum of the City of New York in the early 1960's. Rod Young. I think he was the director of the NYC Marionette Theater at Swedish Cottage in Central Park at that time.

    I attended Puppeteer's of America Day at the 1965 season of the New York World's Fair where I ran into Rod Young. I remember Frank Paris was performing at the United States pavilion that day. I left the P of A exhibit to check out the rest of the fair. While at the Bourbon Street Pavilion I saw through an open door a puppet show in progress. The room was completely dark, I went in and felt around and found something to sit on to watch the show. I thought the performance was terrible but stayed anyway. At the end of the show they turned on the lights and who did I see but Rod Young. It was just he and me in the audience. The puppeteer came out with one of the marionettes and talked to us. Rod Young introduced me to the puppeteer, Larry Crane (AKA Walter Berger) of the World on Strings Marionettes. When I got home I decided that this show was so terrible that they absolutely needed my help so the next day I went back to the theater and asked if he could use my help. Larry said he could but couldn't pay me; however, he had a puppet concession stand by the rear exit which he would be willing to give me 20% of what ever I sold. I worked there from June to the end of the fair and then after the Fair at the Renata Theater on 11th Street in Manhattan.

    By the way I was 13 years old.

    Paul Ransom

  3. Hey Paul:
    I too was in Rod Young's class at the Museum of the City of New York. Do you remember the show we all put on at the end? BTW: I remember seeing that lower-level puppet show at the Fair as well. Did you stay with puppetry?

  4. It's me again.

    I worked at the 1965 season of the 64-65 NY World's Fair and got familiar with, I think, all of the regularly scheduled shows and many of the puppeters.

    Les Poupee de Paris
    Paddy Blackwood
    Roelf Roediger (I think that's how he spells it)
    Biff (the stage manager)
    Van Snowden
    Others, I can't remember their names, all nice people.

    Chrysler Pavilion
    Joe Jacoby
    Carl Harms (stage manager when I met him)
    Gustav Hashfi (I ran into him again at Expo 67)
    David Syrotiak
    Franz Frazkas
    (I heared that Paddy Blackwood also work there as well but I didn't know that at the time)

    Punch & Judy (at the Belgian Village)
    Man and a Woman can't remeber their names

    World on Strings Marionettes
    Me (Paul Ransom)
    Larry Crane (aka Walter Berger)
    Thomas Trovatto
    Frank Bonowicz

    NBC Pavilion
    Addis Williams

    There were some other exhibits with mechanically operated figurines that they called puppets but of course I don't agree (IBM Pavilion,

    I had a 'blast' that summer and fall.

    Paul Ransom

  5. I remember performing Obratsov's "Mortal Danger" and meeting Frank Paris.