The Rufus & Margo Rose Collection
of Classic Children’s Stories Puppets
Puppeteers Margo and Rufus Rose, of Waterford, Connecticut, the leading team of husband and wife puppeteers of their day, were often billed as America’s Foremost Artists of the Marionette Theater. Trained in the pioneering Tony Sarg Studios in New York City, where they met in 1928, the Roses established their own puppet company in 1936 and remained active until the mid-1970’s.
Their work first drew wide public attention during the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The Rose production of Scrooge made television history in 1949 as the first live broadcast of a full-length marionette production. The best-known Rose creation is the character “Howdy Doody,” who appeared on every American child’s television screen during the 1950’s. Margo designed and sculpted the characters for the Howdy Doody show, and Rufus operated “Howdy."
The Roses’ national touring productions included Aladdin (1934), Pinocchio (1936), Snow White (1937), Treasure Island (1938), and Rip Van Winkle (1939). Puppets from these early shows, many never exhibited before, are on display in this exhibition.
Margo designed and modeled each figure, and was a superb manipulator, whose delicate handling of a marionette was reminiscent of plucking a harp. Rufus built all of their marionettes and developed many innovative approaches to control design and stringing methods. Following Margo’s death, the Rose Puppet Collection came to the University of Connecticut’s Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry, the sponsor of this exhibit.
Babbidge Library, Gallery on the Plaza