Autonomatonophobia is the fear of ventriloquists’ dummies, animatronic creatures or wax statues – anything that falsely represents a sentient being. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.
Puppets and ventriloquist dummies, like clowns, have always terrified me, but there are five that scare me a little less. Perhaps this has to do with their kindly personalities. Or maybe it is because they do not remind me of my imaginary wooden friend who fell into my family’s favorite rapid feed wood chipper. Oh the humanity!
In any case, for your edification and recollection my five favorite puppets and dummies with links to videos are (from top to bottom):
Howdy Doody (a freckle-faced boy marionette with 48 freckles, one for each state of the union, until January 3, 1959);
Charlie McCarthy (Edgar Bergen’s wooden sidekick, based on an Irish newspaper boy he knew. Here shown with Mortimer Snerd);
Kukla, Fran and Ollie (Fran Allison, on whom I, at three years old, had a crush, is the sentient being; Kukla and Ollie are an alligator and little bald man, respectively; the puppets were created by Burr Tillstrom);
Jerry Mahoney (Paul Winchell, a tv personality, created Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff – not shown here because he wanted too much royalty. Mahoney was carved by Chicago-based figure maker Frank Marshall);
Danny O’Day and Farfel the Dog (Created by Jimmy Nelson, Danny and Farfel are best known for television commercials for Nestlé’s Quik which ran from 1953 to 1965. Farfel’s mouth would close with a distinctive clap).
(Read about the Starbucks logo makeover here.)
(Sunday’s Daily Heller on the power of seemingly benign symbols here.)