Background Image
Skip to content
Open: Weekdays 10am - 5pm Weekends 10am - 4pm

Happy birthday to master puppeteer Waldo Lanchester!

6th May 2020

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.

Hand Puppets and String Puppets book coverWaldo 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.

Lanchester puppet donated to the LIA Nov 2019Lanchester puppet donated to the LIA Nov 2019Lanchester puppet donated to the LIA Nov 2019









Lanchester puppet designs donated to the LIA Nov 2019

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





More Blog Posts

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to ‘ingeniator’ Fred Lanchester – born 153 years ago today

Today we celebrate the 153rd birthday of the engineer, scientist, inventor, author, poet and possibly the first ‘ingeniator’ – Fred Lanchester. On October 23rd 1868, in Lewisham Octavia and Henry welcomed Fred Lanchester into the world and alongside his brothers […]

Read More
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission.

Pure Ingenuity: Contra-rotating propellers, a piece of Wright Brothers’ history and a little Lanchester on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover, having survived its own hair-raising landing on Mars, has released a unique machine that is set to become the first vehicle to undertake powered flight on another planet. The Ingenuity helicopter didn’t have far to travel (about […]

Read More

International Women’s Day – The story of Edith ‘Biddy’ Lanchester: A woman of substance and controversy

We would like to share with you a story which tells of the life of Edith ‘Biddy’ Lanchester, younger sister of Henry, Frank and Frederick. In the late 1890’s Edith was making the front pages of newspapers from Birmingham to […]

Read More