For 53 years, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been entertaining Los Angeles families. These days, people who came to see the puppets as children now bring their children and even their grandchildren.
What they find is a place very much as they remembered it, friendly and cozy and fear-free, even on Halloween.
the theater is performing its annual Halloween Hoop-de-Doo, which features chills and thrills just enough to make a toddler squirm.
The theater has been living on the edge for years now, mortgaged to the hilt and behind on its taxes. Bob Baker, 88, isn't sure how long the situation can continue. For those who haven't been, he says, "You better hurry up."
The theater is the subject of my latest City Beat. Read the story
Here's what I sent out on Twitter from the scene:
View the story "Watch a Bob Baker puppet show while you can" on Storify] Watch a Bob Baker puppet show while you can The Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been on the edge of downtown LA for 53 years now. It may not last much longer, Baker says. Blame a huge mortgage, back taxes, changing times.
Storified by LA Times City Beat � Wed, Oct 31 2012 09:05:03
For my next City Beat, I head to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, currently performing its Halloween Hoop-de-Doo.LA Times City Beat
It is easy to drive by this boxy building on the edge of downtown LA: http://pic.twitter.com/QplsRNUFLA Times City Beat
A lot of people mean to stop by and catch a show but don't get around to it: http://pic.twitter.com/Dje1PCFXLA Times City Beat
Bob Baker is 88 now. He says his theater won't be around much longer -- without a lot of help: http://pic.twitter.com/qqgaWelnLA Times City Beat
Over the years, he and his staff made hundreds of puppets -- for performances, and for Disney to sell: http://pic.twitter.com/1JCSxjDlLA Times City Beat
Baker has storage rooms full of puppets -- about 3,000 in all. This one is meant to be him: http://pic.twitter.com/k8AGaBiTLA Times City Beat
Check out all the lovely ladies: http://pic.twitter.com/YrYTsNqrLA Times City Beat
And these handsome gentlemen: http://pic.twitter.com/ALuHRwymLA Times City Beat
Baker has a wonderful library of old 78 records http://pic.twitter.com/bIm4dng1LA Times City Beat
Tapes http://pic.twitter.com/FMCGfKm6LA Times City Beat
And puppet books: http://pic.twitter.com/kqO2V1kxLA Times City Beat
Baker's puppet theater has been open for 53 years. But it's heavily mortgaged and owes back taxes: http://pic.twitter.com/Rk9RRGm8LA Times City Beat
Come join the kids and pay a visit to Bob Baker's theater: http://pic.twitter.com/3NE3NkJdLA Times City Beat
You'll see strange creatures pop out of flying saucers: http://pic.twitter.com/aXz8FX9FLA Times City Beat
And maybe some glowing sheets that dance: http://pic.twitter.com/De2j53XmLA Times City Beat
And when the show's over, you'll get free vanilla ice cream: http://pic.twitter.com/m43dbOGSLA Times City Beat
Coming to see shows helps support the theater. So does buying puppets: http://pic.twitter.com/mgM5Uk0PLA Times City Beat
Ursula Heinle, 77, has made so many puppets: http://pic.twitter.com/P2QSCeKmLA Times City Beat
Here's some of the thread she uses: http://pic.twitter.com/4vS1XhHnLA Times City Beat
And Pinocchios in progress: http://pic.twitter.com/bElVXIrfLA Times City Beat
Come visit the Bob Baker Marionette Theater so it can have fewer of these days: http://pic.twitter.com/RBuLO4RKLA Times City Beat
And more of these: http://pic.twitter.com/Dr5yjUR0LA Times City Beat
The Bob Baker Marionette Theater -- my latest City Beat: http://lat.ms/Ug6LrjLA Times City Beat
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City Beat: At Bob Baker's puppet theater, Halloween without fear
-- Nita Lelyveld
Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Adrian Rose, left, controls
her marionette during a performance of Halloween Hoop-de-Doo at the
Bob Baker Marionette Theater. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times