Kramer’s Marionettes

As featured on the show “Show Me St. Louis” – January 24, 2013

A few nights ago, I watched a news story. It was an interview with Dug Feltch. Dug was one half of a St. Louis institution called, “Kramer’s Marionettes.” The other half was Bob Kramer.

About two weeks ago, there was a tragic fire at the home and business of “Kramer’s Marionettes.” Bob Kramer died in the fire, and Dug was taken to the hospital where he stayed for almost a week. Fortunately, Dug survived, but all his and Bob’s lifetime of work – some 800 marionettes – were destroyed in the fire.

“Kramer’s Marionettes” has been around for more than 50 years. It was located in a large, older home located in the West Pine-Laclede neighborhood in the city of St. Louis. I took my kids there several times when they were growing up. The shows were put on in Bob and Dug’s home.

Kramer’s Marionettes was mostly a two man operation. They built the puppets, and they put on the shows with Dug being the voice and speaker of the show. Bob Kramer was always in the background, working the puppets. The shows were low tech. The music was recorded and played over speakers. But the artistry of the puppets was magnificent. And human personalities shown through when the music was playing and the puppets were moving. Every show I saw was pure delight.

Dan and I went to a show of Kramer’s Marionettes here in St. Charles, shortly after we moved here nearly 11 years ago. Lindenwood College, located in St. Charles, hosts a free holiday event each December for the community. They line their sidewalks with luminaries and have stations along the path with holiday activities – a chorus in the church, a cookie station, and various other activities – many of which are for children.

One year, they featured a presentation of Kramer’s Marionettes, and while we are not children and didn’t even bring along any children, we went to the Lindenwood College event. The child in me wanted to see the Marionettes again. It was Dan’s first time seeing the Marionettes, and every time Dan laughed at the subtle antics of the puppets, I knew he “got it,” and he was enjoying the show.

Little did we know that would be the last time we’d see a Kramer’s Marionette’s show.

St. Louis really lost a treasure when that fire destroyed their home completely and all the marionettes inside. And of course, Bob Kramer. A life’s work – completely gone in a matter of minutes. The words “horrible” and “tragic” don’t even begin to describe the depths of the loss.

But out of the ashes rose hope. The interview with Dug warmed my heart. The community rallied around Dug. Last look, the GoFundMe for him had raised over $71,600 – all for Dug. Dug mentioned when he starts to go down that “sad road,” he remembers all the love and support he has felt from the community, and he thinks he must choose a different path. Dug talks about creating a Puppetry Center in St. Louis. I sure hope he does.

How sad to think of the loss of such a talented man, Bob Kramer – and the life’s work of two men who did what they loved to do. They did it so well, so beautifully.

I remember this quote:

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss

And then I also remember the delight and joy of seeing a Bob Kramer’s Marionettes show. And I think of how many thousands and thousands of others, how many adults and children, enjoyed the artistry, the entertainment, and the humor of every show. A fire can’t destroy all those wonderful memories.

And just like Dr. Seuss says, I am so glad it happened.


  1. OH that is sooo sad. I would have loved to have seen the all the marionettes and a show. When I think of marionettes I think of The Sound of Music. When my sister and I were kids our mom made us a set up puppets out of wooden spoons with painted faces and clothes that she sewed. I think my sister still has them. There was a 3 sided tall theater thing with a window so we could put on shows. I am glad the community has stepped up to support Dug. That does not surprise me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny that you mentioned the Sound of Music. I saw an interview with Dug yesterday where he talked about his partner, Bob Kramer. He said Bob wrote the puppeteer who did the Sound of Music when he was in the 4th grade! Later, Bob would work with this man. Kramer’s Marionettes tried to inspire creativity in children – just like your mom did with you and your sister! I think when a child is encouraged to be creative, it can last a whole life long . I am so glad the community stepped up, too. It helps to ease such a loss. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you have a great day. P.S. I will read your post later today. I have to go to the dentist. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for watching the video. I thought it was such a sweet video. I was so sad about it all, but when I saw Dug being interviewed, I felt better. He said all the love and support was like the “wind beneath his wings.” I know it won’t be easy for him going forward, but I do see possibilities. Thank you also for the prayers for him. I believe in the power of prayer, and I know it will be a blessing for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh what an absolutely terrible tragedy. It is such a sad ending to their life’s work but as with your famous quote, I know they brought years and years of joy and that will always be remembered.


    • Thank you, David. I know many in St. Louis were so sad when hearing this news. But I believe all the joy that Bob and Dug gave out, is coming back to Dug. I hope for that puppetry center – maybe even named after Bob Kramer. That would be a wonderful, lasting legacy. I know I will always remember those marionette shows. They were such a delight – as was Dug.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought the same thing as Meg posted – Sound of Music. What an amazing thing that he worked for the writer later. These stories and priceless. Heart-sickened for the loss. Inspired by their work. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, their work was very inspiring. I talked with Dug a few times after the shows we went to, and he was so nice. Kramer’s Marionettes was a real treasure for St. Louis – for many years. And just to clarify – Bob Kramer worked with the man who did the puppets in the Sound of Music – Bill Baird. It was before your time. 🙂 The scene is the song “The Lonely Goatherd,” and you can see it on YouTube if you are interested. It is quite the work of art in the marionette world.


    • Many, many years ago I saw a puppet show put on by some people visiting from Germany. The puppets were paper and were so very clever. I’ve never seen anything like it since, but I have never forgotten it.


    • You are welcome, Bill. I have heard that Dr. Seuss quote a number of times, but I thought it really fit this situation. I am glad you liked the video. I know this post is sad, but you are right – it is filled with heart. And I hope others see the meaning in that. Hope you have a great day, too!


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