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Legendary Puppeteer Bob Baker Dies At 90

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Bob Baker, iconic puppeteer and co-founder of the longest-running children's theater in L.A., has died today of natural causes at 90 years old.

Baker co-founded the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in L.A. in 1963 with his partner, Alton Wood, City News Service reports. The former run-down scenic shop turned institution was declared a historic monument in 2009.

Baker had a long history with puppeteering and performance art before he started his theater. He began building and selling marionettes when he was just a teenager attending Hollywood High School. He later went on to work as head animator at Puppetoons, and worked on shows like Bewitched and Star Trek. He also helped unionize puppeteers and get them accepted by SAG and AFTRA.

The future of the theater has been somewhat uncertain. It has come up against some hard times in recent years as dwindling audiences made it hard to keep afloat. Baker owed a considerable amount of back taxes and sold the building in 2013 with the hopes that whoever bought it would lease it back to the theater. This did happen, and the theater's lease is now up in April, Curbed LA reports. Most recently, a developer has been looking to build apartments above the theater. There have been rumors that the puppets were moving, though one puppeteer at the theater told Curbed LA in October that the theater does not plan to move. Currently playing at the theater is the seasonally appropriate Bob Baker's "Nutcracker," for which you can buy tickets here.

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In lieu of flowers, Baker's loved ones are requesting that any donations be submitted via a GoFundMe account to buy building and land where the theater sits and to preserve Baker's legacy.

Here are some videos of Baker talking about his love of puppetry and scenes from the theater's performances over the years.

LAist Interview: Bob Baker (2005)