There is terribly sad news in the puppetry community today; America’s preeminent puppetry historian and collector Alan Cook has passed away in Los Angeles, California.
Alan Cook was first inspired by puppet shows that he saw in Los Angeles department store during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Legend has it that he made his first puppet at a WPA puppetry class in a Los Angeles park in 1939, sparking a life long passion. Alan would go on to amass one of the world’s greatest puppet collections and work with almost every major Los Angeles puppet and stop motion studio during the mid 20th century, including the likes of Sid and Marty Krofft (Les Poupees de Paris), Pady Blackwood (Howdy Doody), Universal Studios (American Tale), George Pal Productions (Puppetoons), Clockey Productions (Davey and Goliath), and the Muppets (The Muppet Movie).
Almost everyone in the American puppetry community knew – or at least knew of – Alan. He was a fixture at Puppeteers of America festivals for decades, and curated puppet exhibits at museums, universities, and art galleries across the United States for over thirty years. He was also a pioneering member of the internet puppetry community. Despite the fact that by his own admission he wasn’t very adept at digital technology, he was one of he earliest and most enthusiastic members of the Puptcrit mailing list, one of the internet’s first online puppetry communities.
Thankfully, while Alan is gone his life’s work is in good hands. Several years ago with the financial support of Jacqueline Marks he donated his entire collection to the Northwest Puppet Center in Seattle, Washington, where it is now housed in The Cook/Marks Collection. His collection was also documented in the 2017 coffee table book Alan Cook – A Puppet Collector’s Odyssey.
Thank you Alan, you won’t be forgotten.