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Life on a String: The Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Theatre Audio Tour


17.Unknown, Albert Einstein, 1931


Albert Einstein first visited Los Angeles in late 1930 as a research fellow at the burgeoning California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Yale Puppeteers were still at the Teatro Torito on Olvera Street at the time, eager to perform for Hollywood celebrities and their illustrious guests.


Harry made a wonderful puppet of Einstein, and Einstein through a friend came over one Sunday afternoon and we did a special performance for him and his friends. And he was delighted with the show, he laughed, and he carried on and thought it was wonderful and he wanted to examine the puppet.


Harry let him take it and Einstein, in a rumpled grey suit and broad-brimmed hat that balanced precariously on his head, studied it very carefully.


He held it up and said:' Gut, aber nicht dick genug!' (laughs) which I know means 'good, but not fat enough.' So, he reached into his pocket and brought out a letter and he [ inaudible] in a little wad, put it up under the puppet's smock and he laughed. This was one of our biggest moments in our puppet lives.


This photograph was taken shortly after in front of the Caltech Faculty Club where Einstein was staying. It is perhaps the best-known image to ever have emerged from the Turnabout Theater and beautifully captures the playful nature of this brilliant physicist—and the clever inventiveness of the puppeteers.