Friday, July 18, 2014

Living Dolls Week:Doll-A-Day 183: The Muppet Show Scooter Doll

  I haven't really talked much this week about the original 'living doll': the puppet. Puppets have been around for hundreds of years. The oldest written information on puppetry dates from the 5th century BC. The word 'puppet' actually comes from an ancient Greek word, and means "drawn by strings", or "string pulling". This would refer, of course, to marionettes, which are figures operated by strings connected to various points. There are far too many types of puppets for me to go into them here, but the most common types that most readers will be familiar with are marionettes,glove puppets,(simple puppets that are worn on the hand of the puppeteer.)

Like these Punch and Judy characters, (which aren't actually Punch and Judy themselves.)
ventriloquist dummies...

Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd with 'Bergen', as they called him. (Otherwise known as Edgar Bergen.) Charlie's 'sister' Candice Bergen said Charlie had his own room in their house. Why not? He helped pay for it.
...rod puppets,(similar to glove puppets, with the addition of rods that control arms, etc.), and shadow puppets,(usually jointed,  flat rod puppets that are performed behind a back lit screen, like those from Indonesia and China.)
Like this guy.He's a shadow puppet and a rod puppet.

  As a kid I loved watching ventriloquists on TV. I even bought a Howdy Doody dummy, as I mentioned recently, and tried to learn ventriloquism.(In spite of what Ivy thinks, I'm really not that bad!) I did a puppet show for my 3rd grade class using hand or 'glove' puppets, which I ended up performing for all the other classes too. (The subject was Conservation, quite a big thing in the early 70's, when I was in 3rd grade.) I also considered being a puppeteer, brought on by my love for a group of puppets I had been watching on TV almost as long as I could remember.I'm talking, of course, about  the crowned heads of 'living dolls', The Muppets.
Muppets creator Jim Henson, (Uhh, he's the guy in the front, center...) with Muppets from Sesame Street,and The Muppet Show/movies.Henson was born in Mississippi in 1936.
The Muppets were the creation of Jim Henson.The name is a combination of 'marionette' and 'puppet'.("Muppet" that is, not "Jim Henson"...) He named his puppets that because that's what he considered them to be.

Muppet performers left to right: Back row: Richard Hunt with Scooter,Jerry Nelson with Floyd Pepper,Jim Henson with Kermit,Dave Goelz with Beauregard,Frank Oz with Animal. Front row: Kathryn Mullen with Camilla or a random chicken, (since she didn't perform Camilla), Louise Gold with Piggy Sue (No! It's not Miss Piggy!), and Steve Whitmire eyesight's not that good!

The Muppet characters are a mix of types. Some of the larger Muppets, like Sweetums, are actually a costume, with an operable mouth and eyebrows.

Muppets like Fozzie, Rowlf, and The Swedish Chef are 'two man puppets', with one puppeteer performing the mouth and one arm, and another puppeteer performing the other arm.
 Fozzie amazes Rowlf with his piano playing.

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Scooter, and Gonzo are rod puppets:one performer using the body as a glove puppet, but using the other hand to operate the rods that control the arms.

Scooter is keeping his rods to himself, but his uncle, J.P. Grosse apparently doesn't care who sees his rods! These days, even The Muppets use CGI, to digitally remove the rods from scenes where they show.

Which brings me to today's doll. It's Scooter. (Not Skipper's friend Skooter!)

This is the Fisher Price Scooter doll, made in 1978.
He has velcro on his hands so he can do...this?

He can also do this.
His orange yarn bangs are worn down quite a bit.He's a hard to find character though, and one of the few Scooters made, so I was really excited to find him at Salvation Army recently.

Cool Muppet Show logo on his jacket. It's supposed to be on his back, but , oh well.

I love his tennis shoes.

He can't really stand unsupported. He's doing a lot of leaning.

He's about 14 or 15" tall.

Tomorrow is another Skipper Saturday.See you then.

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