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October 10, 2015

The Five: Creepy puppets

by Adam Finley, posted Aug 20th 2006 1:07PM

puppetsBob's recent post about Madame got me thinking about all the puppets that have appeared on television over the years, and specifically the ones that creeped me the heck out. If you're like me and some of those characters that were meant to entertain you only left you with nightmares and a life-long fear of anything even remotely puppet-like, share your tales of woe in the comments. Think of this as group therapy. Let's get started:

Madame: This aging diva may have been hilarious, but as a very young child when I saw her on shows like Hollywood Squares and Solid Gold she only managed to send me cowering behind the sofa. That jutting chin! That piercing voice! Those horrible satanic eyes! Clearly, she was the Banshee of Celtic lore, and I imagined that after every show she returned to her real occupation: flying around screaming to portend the death of Irish family members.

Lady Elaine Fairchild: There were two types of puppets in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood of Make Believe: scary and boring. Most fell into the latter category, but Lady Elaine Fairchild, the outspoken curator of the Museum Go Round, had a face that looked as if it had been held against a stove. She may have brought joy to some children, but to me she was the star of several nightmares, chasing me around with a hatchet and chanting her incessant rhymes. Fred Rogers actually named the character after his adopted sister. I'm hoping he didn't base Lady Elaine's likeness on her, too.

Howdy Doody: Obviously I'm too young to have seen the original Howdy Doody Show, but this puppet that was so beloved by Andy Kaufman is enough of a television icon that we all recognize his freckled face and big, dumb grin. The Peanut Gallery may have loved his shenanigans, but I can't look at him without thinking of that killer clown doll from Poltergeist.

The Spitting Image puppets: Okay, I actually loved Spitting Image, the satirical British puppet show featuring grotesque caricatures of political and pop cultural celebrities of the era. Most people will recognize them from Genesis' Land of Confusion video. Nevertheless, those were some damn creepy-looking puppets. I'm just sayin'.

Mr. Snuffleupagus: While I still have an aversion to the aforementioned puppets, I've since come around and learned to love Mr. Snuffleupagus. When I was a little kid however, something about this huge lumbering beast always unnerved me. I don't know if it was the deep baritone voice, those long eyelashes, or the fact that he was somewhat dimwitted, and that like Lenny from Of Mice and Men, he might try to protect you but only manage in suffocating you with his massive trunk.

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Tim P barrus

Howdy Doody was certainly beloved by Andy Kaufman. A lot of people think Andy faked his death like Howdy but in reality it was simply an orchestrated misunderstanding. www.AndyKaufmanLives.com

August 21 2006 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Evan Erwin

Dude! I certainly remember the Land of Confusion video (and thanks for the link!).

It gave me some -serious- nightmares when I was 7 or 8 years old. Freaky puppets, indeed.

August 21 2006 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I don't really find puppets creepy. Ventriloquist's dummy's on the other hand.... I always got the feeling that the dummy usually knew more than the guy working them and in their off hours were up to no good.

August 20 2006 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I work in a middle school library. On top of several of the bookcases sit a dozen puppets, the kind whose entire heads flop back in order to open the mouth.

I hate them. I'm certain they're going to wait until a day I'm alone, crawl down and kill me.

August 20 2006 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Feebles are great. It was the very first thing I ordered off Amazon, back in about 1998. That movie is great, especially the Vietnam flashbacks and the musical number about sodomy. Jackson is one twisted guy.

August 20 2006 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

Oh, but I have meet the Feebles, but that's movies, not television. :)

August 20 2006 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's obvious you haven't met the Feebles.

August 20 2006 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bill p

I always thought Lady Elaine Fairchilde was just a big rummy drunk, hence the purple-ish nose. Just look at her...


August 20 2006 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with all, though Snuffy never scared me.

It may have been before my time, but had the Thunderbirds been on when I was a kid I would have had nightmares for years.

At least now I can enjoy those type of puppets thanks to Team America.

August 20 2006 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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