Friday, July 29, 2011

Bob Baker's Marionettes...Witch and Queen at DL Paris

These handmade string puppets of the Witch and Evil Queen are located in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel at the Disneyland Resort in Paris. Having not yet had the opportunity myself of visiting this theme park, I first learned about these fantastic marionettes when I came upon this image by British photographer Disney Dan.

Witch and Queen photo shot February 2010. Courtesy of Disney Dan. Use with permission.

Bob Baker, the artistic mastermind behind these marionettes, was born in 1924, and at the age of only eight, he'd already learned the art of puppetry. By the time he was attending high school in Hollywood, his own fabricated marionettes were being sold to customers in both North America and Europe.

Bob at age 12. Image via Bob Baker Marionettes.

In 1937, he worked at Robinson Department Stores in Los Angeles creating window displays and helping to develop a puppet play for the holidays. That show turned out to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A big fan of Disney, Bob developed other puppets shows over the next few years including one with Dumbo that Walt Disney himself attended. Read the account by Jim Korkis at Mouse Planet.

By 1944, Bob had started his own garage puppet factory. In the 50s, he was putting on puppet shows for his own TV program called The Adventures of Bobo. He then went on to work with Walt Disney to create window displays for the opening of Disneyland.

The Los Angles based Bob Baker Marionette Theatre officially opened in 1962 and is still going to this day. It currently has an inventory of over 3,000 puppets. With shows almost daily, it is the longest running puppet theater in America.

Bob at his theater in LA, 2009.

Bob has a long list of credits where his puppet work has appeared in both television and film. He even created the Quinto puppet who sang (voiced by Mel Blanc) to Carol Heiss in Snow White and the Three Stooges (reviewed by Kurt Raymond in an earlier post). Since the early 1970s, Baker has been the only officially licensed creator of Disney marionettes. His limited edition of Pinocchio is patterned after the original puppet that was used in the creation of the film. After the movie was completed, Bob was given the head which he used as a guide to create this special edition for Master Replicas.

Quinto the puppet in Snow White and the Three Stooges, 1961 + Pinocchio Master Replicas Limited Edition.

This brings us back to the Witch and Queen marionettes on display at the Paris Disneyland Hotel. Created by Bob, each is a limited edition of only 500. The Queen wears a crown on her head and a medallion around her neck. In her left hand sits the ill-boding heart box. The Witch clutches the poison apple in her left hand and sports a broad yet sinister grin. Both measure approximately 28" in length, the Witch slightly shorter.

Evil Queen, February 2010. Image courtesy of Disney Dan. Use with permission.

Additional Queen and Witch images shot June 2011. Courtesy of Disney Showcase Key. Used with permission.

Both puppets have long since sold out, but if you're lucky enough to find one from a reseller, it's likely to retail for well over $1500 (USD). These two marionettes have been on display at the Disneyland Hotel since it opened in 1992.

Here's a few other Snow White marionettes to come out of Bob's puppet workshop...

Images via Bob Baker Marionettes.

Read an interesting 2009 interview at suite101 where Bob shares stories from his days with Walt Disney and the animators.

Special acknowledgment goes to H.P. for his assistance with this post, to Disney Dan for use of his Witch/Queen photos, and especially to Disney Showcase Key for not only taking additional photos but also for tracking down the information about Bob Baker.


2013 UPDATE: CaseAntiques put the Queen (#28) and Witch (#29) up for auction.The pair sold for $1,860.00.

Additional images via CaseAntiques.


  1. Absolutely beautiful works of art....each and every one of them! I need to get over to Bob Baker's theater and see one of his shows. In my entire life, I've never lived further than 30 minutes from his theater and I've never been!

  2. You're very welcome ASWS !
    These puppets are familiar to me because I usually go to the DLH .
    It has been a pleasure to me to collaborate with this blog one more time. I was waiting for this post and I must say that it is great !
    I thing I will post soon about his general artwork on Disney Showcase Key .
    They are so rare, it 's sad !
    One of Disneyland Paris pride ; ) .

  3. Interesting read - did not know of Bob Baker.
    Snow White and the Three Stooges ... completely forgot about that one!

  4. Wow, those are great puppets! I've never seen any of them. I remember seeing a large marionette of Bad Pete in one of the shops on Main Street at Walt Disney World many years ago. I wonder if that was a Bob Baker Marionette, too.

  5. Tokyo-- I agree, beautiful work. Yes, if you get the chance to see Bob's puppeteering in action, you should. He's a living legend.

    DSK-- Thanks again for all your help with this post. It would not have happened without you.

    Tony-- Thanks. Yea the SW installment in the Stooges canon is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Moe, Larry and Curly/Shemp/Curly Joe.

    Dan-- Bad Pete could have been one of Bob's. He's done a lot of them.

  6. These marionettes are incredible! We are definitely going to make a stop or try to stay at the DLH. It would be unbelievable if we could ever get our hands on one for our collection (although it might cost an arm and a leg, haha!).

  7. I actually have a Queen one that I purchased many years ago - same one - I would never sell it for less than $5000, so I guess it's just worth more to me. It's large and beautiful!

  8. I listed the Queen on Ebay for Offers around $4750 in case anyone is interested. Thank you.

    1. Forgot Link - DUH - Disney Wicked Queen Bob Baker Marionette - Rare Gem - Snow White Limited Puppet

  9. Puppets just got a whole lot scarier! Wouldn't want one of those witches in my house *shudder*

    Caged Canary - Live The Fairytale