I don’t know the specific name of this puppet. I got him for Christmas one year when I was a kid, probably around 1980 or so.
The “illusion” is that the owner (wearing a white garden glove) is holding a small, furry critter. The secret is that the white glove is actually stuffed and sewn to the top of the critter’s head, while the owner’s hand is actually inside the critter. The illusion is pretty convincing, and I remember tricking a few of my friends into thinking, at least for a moment, that I was actually holding some sort of crawling critter.
Occasionally people would incorrectly guess that the critter’s legs were motorized. Sometimes I would try on purpose to make the movements look jerky. About the time they guessed it was robotic I would make the critter leap toward them. Got ’em, every time.
I found this guy in a box labeled “puppets” out in my garage while doing some spring (fall) cleaning. Sadly, it appears my hand will no longer fit inside. Time to pass this one along to the next generation.
Before there was Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator, there was Wayland Flowers. Technically, Flowers was less a ventriloquist and more a puppeteer, but the basic premise remains the same. He did shows and skits with puppets. One of his most famous puppets was an old hag named Madame. Maybe “hag” isn’t so nice, but, man, was this broad misshapen, particularly in the chin and mouth area. Not only did she have a distinctive look, but she had a distinctive gravely voice as well. Flowers and Madame appeared on The Andy Williams Show, Hollywood Squares, and Laugh-In, and she also had her own sitcom, Madame’s Place. But I know her best from her many appearances on Solid Gold. Like so many things I saw in my really young days, I couldn’t understand Madame and was pretty much traumatized by her. But I don’t find her scary today. At least, not as scary.
What’s better than owning an Animal puppet? How about two Animal puppets!!
The one on the left was a Christmas present for my sister back in the early 80s. (Somehow I ended up with it.) According to MuppetCentral.com, it was released back in 1978. His hands and feet have small squares of Velcro attached that allow you post him, to a certain extent. There’s also a bar inside his head that allows the puppeteer to control Animal’s eyebrows.
The one on the right is much newer. It was made in 2003 by Sabba Toys, and I got him at a garage sale for a quarter. Personally I like the vintage one much better as this one looks a bit too friendly. I guess by the time we got to the 2000s, I guess midriffs were out.
“Go home! Go home! Bye-bye.” – Animal, The Muppet Movie