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One year ago: Steve Meltzer

Meltzer Steve Meltzer's job was a labor of love. For more than a decade, he ran the Santa Monica Puppetry Center.

"I wanted to do what I am now doing when I was 4," Meltzer told L.A. Weekly in 2008. "Paul Winchell was a huge TV star back then, and my idol. I knew his partner, Jerry Mahoney, was not a living person, but Paul acted as though he was, and he made me believe it.

"I do this . . . for the sheer joy that I have with the audience as we laugh . . . and sing . . . and believe together."

Meltzer died a year ago at age 56.

When the Bob Baker Marionette Theater near downtown Los Angeles sought historic-cultural landmark status, Meltzer staged a march of the marionettes before the Los Angeles City Council.

 "He went to bat for us" and won, Baker told The Times. "He was always trying to help people, and he loved to perform."

 Meltzer's news obituary appeared in The Times on Dec. 7, 2009.

--Keith Thursby

 Photo: Steve Meltzer in 2000.

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