vintage vitale

Frank Oz’s Dad and me.

This is Mike Oznowicz and me. Besides being very involved in puppetry guilds and organizations himself,and twice president of Puppeteers of America, Mike’s other claim to fame was his son, Frank.
Mike was one of the folks high-up and “in charge” of this particular puppetry convention, but I remember him being an incredibly sweet and down-to-earth man. And funny as hell.I sat at his table at lunch a couple of times and nearly cried I was laughing so hard.
I got to talk to him quite a few times during this festival, and it was he who gave me the confidence to go ask Frank for his autograph.I was young and ambitious and very determined back then to meet and greet whomever I could, but I got a little shy around Frank for some reason. In his thick Dutch accent, I can still hear Mike saying, “Elizabeth, don’t you worry, Frank does not bite. You go and you get that autograph— you’ll see he’s a very nice fellow”.

I had my doubts he could still be alive, but nevertheless, it was with great sadness that I found an obituary when I searched for him online:


Pondering a design….George Stinktooth..

I am seriously considering re-making my old, old puppet George Stinktooth(his last name used to be Fishbreath, but I had to change it a while back–didn’t know it was kinda naughty). Steve does a great voice that I think would be perfect for him, and he needs some practice working a really big puppet head anyway. Working a large set of puppet jaws requires some subtlety in choice of lip-synch; if you try to enunciate every syllable, you’ll wear yourself out,and a lot of unnecessary mouth flapping occurs.You sort of have to teach yourself when you need to combine several syllables into one opening of the mouth.
Just for the record, even though I obviously like the name, I have no idea why I named him George–he’s not a GH caricature in any way.
Maybe it’s the teeth?

Anyway, George(on the left in the photo) would be able to be made of newer, fresher materials, and he would be able to have a few features I wanted to add back then but didn’t know how. I’m still looking for my old sketch, but he had huge, tall antennas with tufts on the ends (what I affectionately call “Poongas” when they are ears)and a really thick, bushy black mane running down the back of his neck.He’s always had those cute lop ears, though, but I might make them longer and flopsier.
George’s mouth is huge,as long as my arm. His teeth are simply little foam rubber triangles that of course turned yellow and became squished over the years. I would like to make his teeth a little more sturdy. He would of course keep his distinctive blue tongue.
I’m a bit concerned about the eyes–they are made from the tops of L’Eggs Pantyhose containers, which were the godsend of craft materials back then. L’Eggs no longer come in these containers, and I’m not sure if I could find more.


Vintage Vitale: Stanley the Flamingo

Stanley was created strictly for the purpose of entering a contest. I was headed to my very first puppetry festival, in Tampa, Florida, and the theme was flamingos. A contest for flamingo puppets was going to be held, and I was determined to enter.
Back then, in the late 80’s, there still was little variety in colors of plush in the fabric stores. I was extremely lucky, I think, to find this shade of pink. It’s the same so-so quality plush you’ll find in any fabric store in the “fake fur” section. Wal-Mart even has the stuff now. I grabbed some pink robeweight velour in pink and in white for the legs and beak(finally realizing that a bird’s beak and legs are not ALWAYS THE SAME COLOR), a dash of black velour,a bit of black long fur, and I was stocked with the fabric I needed.


Tumbleweed and me,early 90’s?

I cannot remember what year this was. I do know it was at a Puppetry Festival here in Georgia, in a little town in the North Georgia Mountains called Helen. Helen has an Alpine theme, and although nowhere near captures the charm and magic of a German village like it used to(now it’s like a German-looking Panama City Beach, tacky and trashy), it’s still an unusual destination.

I’m standing outside the Helendorf River Inn, and I think we were all getting ready for a parade–that can only explain my hat.I’m holding my dear little flying palomino, Tumbleweed, and wearing a shirt that I painted with his likeness. Note my tacky boot-shaped earrings.