116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
PIECE OF HISTORY: Bucknell Marionettes
Cedar Rapids couple’s puppets were pretty famous
By Tara Templeman, - The History Center
May. 23, 2023 5:00 am
The Bucknell Marionettes are well-known as exemplary puppets in circles of experts but are better remembered by Linn County residents for the joy and wonder they inspired during school and public performances.
For more than 50 years, Bruce Bucknell built more than 300 marionette puppets and also performed with them.
After he married, he continued to construct the marionette faces, bodies and controls while his wife, Nola, created the elaborate costumes and helped develop the puppets’ personalities.
Each puppet took as many as 300 hours to construct. The Bucknells performed both together and separately all over the United States and into Canada, showcasing the puppets as many as 150 times each year.
The best-known marionette was Billy Boulder, who gained fame in the 1960s on television commercials. The Bucknells continued to perform into the 1970s, but most of the business halted after Nola Bucknell died in 1988.
Several of the Bucknell marionettes will be included in a new exhibition that opens Saturday at The History Center, 800 Second Ave. SE. The exhibition will run for six months and give viewers a chance to relive a childhood moment of magic and share your memories with the next generation.
Tara Templeman is curator at The History Center. Comments: email@example.com