Sunday, February 16, 2014

Promoting Public Policy Programs...with Puppets

During the Great Depression, politicians supported puppet shows to combat unemployment and to boost morale.


According to puppeteer Bil Baird (1904-1987), in 1934, New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia supported a marionette company as part of a public works program.


"Two years later," he writes, "President Franklin Roosevelt thought it might be a good idea to organize fifty marionette companies to tour the United States and explain the processes of democracy and the philosophy of the New Deal."

Unfortunately, "the project became mired in partisan politics and never got off the ground. It was a lost opportunity, and about as close as we have ever come, I guess, to having Federal support for puppetry."

Image: NW Puppet Center Opens Great Depression Exhibit
Quote from the book: The Art of the Puppet by Bil Baird.

6 comments:

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

My grandmother was a young woman during the depression, as a result of losing everything in bank failures, she never trusted banks again. There aren't many people alive today that remember those times. Interesting story about the puppets, shame it didn't work out for them.

planetpailly said...

What an interesting piece of history. It's a shame that didn't work out. Imagine if puppet shows had become an American political tradition!

arturoquimico said...

Sad to say, puppet shows by politicians are all too common these days...

Simone said...

So politicians back then seriously entertained the idea of using puppets to represent them? Priceless! Were they union puppets?

K_tigress said...

I thought our leaders are the puppets. They certainly get controlled by special interests from the top rich.

Randy CA said...

Lefty politicians wanting to use puppets to manipulate the populace into supporting their politics shows you what low regard they had for the people they were supposedly serving.

The whole thing reminds me of the propaganda trains the Bolsheviks sent out into the Russian countryside after the communist revolution.