is a person who manipulates an inanimate object — a puppet
— in real time to create the illusion of life. The puppeteer may be visible to or hidden from the audience. A puppeteer can operate a puppet indirectly by the use of strings, rods, wires, electronics or directly by his or her own hands placed inside the puppet or holding it externally. Some puppet styles require puppeteers to work together as a team to create a single puppet character.
There are a wide range of styles of puppetry but whatever the style, the puppeteer's role is to manipulate the physical object in such a manner that the audience believes the object is imbued with life. In some instances the persona of the puppeteer is also an important feature.
The relationship between the puppeteer and the puppet-maker is often assumed to be similar to that between an actor and a playwright. This may be so, but one of the characteristics of puppetry is that very often the puppeteer assumes the joint roles of puppet-maker, director, designer, writer and performer. In this case a puppeteer is a more complete theatre practitioner than is the case within other theatre forms.
"Puppetry is a highly effective and dynamically creative means of exploring the richness of interpersonal communication. By its very nature, puppetry concentrates on the puppet rather than the puppeteer. This provides a safety zone for the puppeteer and allows for exploration of unlimited themes through a safe and non-threatening environment for communication."
Puppetry is a live medium and this distinguishes it from animation in which animators make a puppet appear to move by using a stop motion film technique in which the puppet is moved tiny fractions between each frame.
List of notable professional puppeteers
- Anton Aicher founder of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
- Gretl Aicher artistic director of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
- Gerry Anderson, another famous and influential modern puppeteer, used a marionette puppet system called Supermarionation to a number of successful science fiction television shows like Thunderbirds.
- Cosmo Allegretti (Captain Kangaroo's Mr. Moose and Mr. Bunny Rabbit)
- Don Austen
- Bob Baker (400 movies, first puppeteer on TV - Los Angeles KHJ in 1939.)
- Bil Baird
- Trace Beaulieu (Mystery Science Theater 3000's Crow T. Robot)
- Marek Becka - founder of Buchty a Loutky ("Cakes and Puppets") and lecturer in puppetry, Alternative and Puppet Department of the Prague Academy of Performing Arts
- Edgar Bergen (Charlie McCarthy and others)
- Richard Bradshaw OAM one time director of the Marionette Theatre of Australia, President of UNIMA Australia and master shadow puppeteer
- Simon Buckley (British TV and film puppeteer)
- Ronnie Burkett (Canadian puppeteer, creator of Street of Blood, Tinka's New Dress, Happy (Memory Dress Trilogy), Provenance, 10 Days on Earth, among others)
- Fran Brill (Prairie Dawn, Zoe, Little Bird, Roxie Marie)
- Kevin Clash (Elmo on Sesame Street)
- Tommy Duren
- John Eccleston
- Wayland Flowers (Madame)
- Christine Glanville (One of Gerry Anderson's lead puppet operators)
- Dave Goelz (Gonzo the Great)
- Jim Henson (1936 -1990), is one of the best known of modern recent puppeteers who with his associate Frank Oz developed The Muppets for television. Their work has entertained children for decades on television series such as Sesame Street and the adult oriented The Muppet Show. Henson and Oz also frequently worked in film, including directing and puppeteer work in the 1982 film The Dark Crystal and the 1986 film Labyrinth. Oz is also well known for his work with the puppet of Yoda in the popular Star Wars movie series and as a director of movies such as the musical Little Shop of Horrors.
- Richard Hunt (Scooter, Beaker, Sweetums)
- Max Jacob Founder of the Hohnsteiner Kasper Theatre in Germany in the 1920s.
- Alex Kahn Giant puppet creator for New York's Village Halloween Parade
- Bill Kincaid/Doug Kincaid (creators of TV's "DB. Doorbell", "Grouchie Gator", and other "Kincaid Karacter" Puppets)
- Roberto La Morticella (made giant street theater puppets during the Summer of Love)
- Scott Land Lead Puppeteer in [Team America World Police], [Princess Diaries 1 & 2], www.thepuppetman.com
- Shari Lewis (Lamb Chop and others)
- David Logan (playwright), director and master puppeteer
- Rick Lyon (created the puppets for, and starred in the original Broadway cast of the Tony-award winning musical Avenue Q)
- Mat McCoy (Farscape)
- Paul McPharlin Paul McPharlin Collection at the Detroit Institute of Art
- Basil Milovsoroff (In 1983 received the President's Award of the Puppeteers of America)
- Kevin Murphy (Mystery Science Theater 3000's Tom Servo)
- Jerry Nelson (Dr. Julius Strangepork, Herry Monster)
- Sergey Obraztsov (1901-1992), frequently cited as the father of artistic puppetry, was highly skilled in finger puppeteering, but also extended the range of the form by exposing the manipulation techniques involved.
- Frank Oz (Miss Piggy, Yoda, Bert, Fozzie Bear, Grover, Cookie Monster and many others)
- Ramdas Padhye - Ventriloquist,Puppeteer and Puppet-Maker from India. His ventriloquist dummy Ardhavatrao, and Bunny (the rabbit that starred in the commercial Lijjat Papad) are well known on the sub-continent. His son Satyajit Padhye is also a Ventriloquist and Puppeteer who is carrying this art of Puppetry to future generations.
- Pantopuck (first puppeteer on television, author of "The Magic Tower and other Plays" & "Modern Puppetry.")
- Count Franz Pocci founding director of the Munich Marionette Theatre, shadow puppeteer and writer of countless puppet plays
- Pietro Radillo 19th century Italian master of the marrionette
- Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood)
- Albrecht Roser German master puppetter based in Stuttgart - famous for his puppet Grandmother
- Peter Schumann (b. 1934) has also been a highly influential puppeteer. Schumann formed Bread and Puppet Theatre in 1963, using puppetry as a form to campaign politically and educate socially as well as entertain. His work has also been formally experimental, and influenced a wide range of theatre practitioners including Julie Taymor.
- Bruce Schwartz
- Peter Scriven famous founding artitsic director of the Marionette Theatre of Australia - his Tintookies and Little Fella Bindi toured all over Australasia
- Robert Smigel (Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog)
- Larry Smith
- Zdar Sorm, in charge of technological design of puppets for animated films - Barrandov Studio, Prague, Czech Republic
- Caroll Spinney (Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street)
- John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Johnny and the Sprites)
- Burr Tillstrom Creator of Kukla, Fran and Ollie
- Miroslav Trejtnar - Czech master puppeteer and teacher of puppetry
- Winston Tong (1978 Obie Award winner for Puppetry)
- Jiri Trnka, master puppeteer and animator
- Willie Tyler (Lester)
- Eka Vogelnik, Slovene puppeteer and illustrator with numerous puppet performances for theatre and TV
- Señor Wences (Johnny, Pedro, many others)
- Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog, Ernie, and many others since 1990)
- Paul Zaloom (Beakman's World)
Famous people who dabbled in puppetry