When I was a kid, I checked this book, “Tom Tichenor’s Puppets”, out of our library quite frequently. Written by Tom himself, I enjoyed the matter-of-fact but warm and fatherly tone of his writing. Reading his book truly felt as if I were a learning apprentice, and he soon became one of my heroes. I can remember seeing a scant few of his puppets on public television when I was small and visiting relatives in Tennesssee.
One of the most important things I learned from this book is the use of color and patterns; do not use patterned fur or fabric on a puppet’s face, as it will hide and obscure the features, and do not ever make an all-black or similarly dark-colored puppet, because it will look like a hole.
Tom’s career began at age 15, performing at the Nashville Public Library,and here is an excerpt from the Library’s article on this talented and versatile entertainer:
Tichenor’s association with the library, both as volunteer and staff member, spanned 50 years, including a period in the 1940s and 50s when he worked for commercial radio stations WSM and WSIX.
From his nationally televised Poindexter series to his outstanding work with the Circle Players and the Nashville Children’s Theater, and his stunning contribution of puppetry in the Broadway musical Carnival!, Tichenor’s professional career was exciting and varied.
In 1967, after the completion of his daily children’s program Birthday House, broadcast on WNBC-TV in New York, Tichenor returned home to the Nashville Public Library. By the time of his retirement in 1988, he had marked “fifty years of enchantment” and was a much-loved figure to generations of audiences who treasured his marionette shows.
Nashville suffered a great loss upon Tichenor’s death in 1992, but his work lives on today. Wishing Chair Productions(the current full-time performers at the Library) is proud to preserve Tichenor’s memory through the continued use of his beloved marionettes and puppets. The Nashville Public Library honors and embraces the legacy of the unique craftsman, artist and storyteller that was Tom Tichenor.
One of my favorite puppets made by Tom Tichenor is his notorious green walrus,Horrible Henry,from the 1961 musical Carnival.