Waldo Sullivan Lanchester was born on this day the 6th May 1897, the son of James Sullivan and Edith Lanchester (Fred’s sister, and find out more about their extraordinary meeting here). His younger sister was the actress Elsa Lanchester – “The Bride of Frankenstein“. Two of the earliest puppets he created were named “Baldo and Belsa”, the pet names of himself and his sister Elsa.
Waldo was a British puppeteer who founded the Lanchester Marionettes, a puppet theatre that was based in Malvern, and later in Stratford-upon-Avon. His book ‘Hand Puppets and String Puppets‘ was first published in 1960 and a copy is held at the Lanchester Interactive Archive.
He commissioned George Bernard Shaw to write his last completed play “Shakes versus Shav” in 1949. Mr Shaw commented on his commission in The Times 5/8/1949.
“I accomplished this feat, and was gratified by Mr. Lanchester’s immediate approval.”
Waldo passed away in Stratford upon Avon on 15 December 1978
The archive has recently acquired some Lanchester puppets, designs and drawings and we will be bringing the story of this exciting new acquisition soon.
Other footage of the puppets online:
Here is Waldo in his shop featuring in a British Pathe film about Stratford
Remounted version of Waldos ‘Peter and the Wolf’ – Waldo first did this in 1939. The National Puppetry Archive staged it for their 90th anniversary.
The Lanchester Marionettes performing the chair balancing act from The Circus show
Coppernob Clowns footage – acrobatics using a seesaw