Albert Einstein Holding an Albert Einstein Puppet (Circa 1931)

The Yale Pup­peteers, con­sist­ing of For­man Brown, Har­ry Bur­nett, and Rod­dy Bran­don, came togeth­er in the 1920s and spent almost the next sev­en decades tour­ing the Unit­ed States, putting on satir­i­cal per­for­mances that fea­tured pup­pets in star­ring roles. They also staged per­for­mances at the Turn­about The­ater from 1941 to 1956, turn­ing it into a Hol­ly­wood insti­tu­tion.

In 1965, while speak­ing to the Los Ange­les Times, Har­ry Bur­nett reflect­ed on his career and recalled how the pup­pet troupe “enter­tained Charles Chap­lin, Gre­ta Gar­bo, Lionel Bar­ry­more,” and even “pre­sent­ed a spe­cial show for Dr. Albert Ein­stein when he vis­it­ed the street while teach­ing at Cal­tech.” That’s like­ly the ori­gin of the ear­ly 1930s pho­to above, which fea­tures Ein­stein pos­ing with an Ein­stein mar­i­onette. The web­site Retro­naut pro­vides a lit­tle more back­ground on the pho­to:

Ein­stein saw the pup­pet per­form at the Teatro Tori­to [a pre­de­ces­sor to the Turn­about The­ater] and was quite amused. He reached into his jacket’s breast pock­et, pulled out a let­ter and crum­pled it up. Speak­ing in Ger­man, he said, ‘The pup­pet wasn’t fat enough!’ He laughed and stuffed the crum­pled let­ter up under the smock to give the pup­pet a fat­ter bel­ly. This is a won­der­ful pho­to­graph that Har­ry trea­sured. Har­ry Bur­nett also kept the let­ter in a frame and loved to retell the sto­ry and at the end give his pix­ish laugh.

The sto­ry of Bur­nett and his com­rades was told in a 1993 doc­u­men­tary, Turn­about: The Sto­ry of the Yale Pup­peteers. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it’s not avail­able online.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lis­ten as Albert Ein­stein Reads ‘The Com­mon Lan­guage of Sci­ence’ (1941)

“Do Sci­en­tists Pray?”: A Young Girl Asks Albert Ein­stein in 1936. Ein­stein Then Responds.

Ein­stein for the Mass­es: Yale Presents a Primer on the Great Physicist’s Think­ing

The Musi­cal Mind of Albert Ein­stein: Great Physi­cist, Ama­teur Vio­lin­ist and Devo­tee of Mozart

Free Physics Cours­es in our Col­lec­tion of 825 Free Online Cours­es

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