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Collections Cameo, October 2013

Lindman Marionettes, late 1950s-early 1960s

This wonderful collection includes seven puppets used by educator Margaret Lindman (right) in the 1950s and 1960s for her children’s marionette shows. Dr. Lindman donated them to the Historical Society in 2001. A few of them, including Rumpelstiltskin (pictured at left), were featured on “Just Imagine,” a children’s story hour televised on WTTW.

A Chicago native, Margaret Rohner Lindman came to Lake Bluff about 1948, when during the summers she taught preschool at the Lake Bluff Children’s Home. During the 1950s she taught at Lake Bluff East School and Lake Bluff Middle School. She found it natural to merge her training in education with her background in theater, drawing on childhood elocution lessons and college drama experience to create theatrical lessons for her students.

Click here or the image below to view a photo gallery of the Lindman Marionettes in our collection.

It was during this period that Margaret, her husband Richard Lindman, and her sister Mary Griffith formed the Lindman Marionettes. The troupe created over 200 marionettes and hand puppets through the years. Richard Lindman did most of the rough cutting of the puppets, many of which were made of basswood, as well as carving and assembly. Margaret would also carve and paint the puppets’ faces. She and Mary would write plays for children and then act out the performances, serving as both characters and puppeteers. Richard would build the sets and help with the stage crew, lighting and sound. Many of the plays were based on classic children’s stories, fairy tales, and poems, and often they incorporated audience participation.

The Lindman Marionettes often performed at Ravinia’s Murray Theater, and each year at the Miracle of Books Fair at the Museum of Science and Industry; they even took the show on the road to an arts festival in Utica, New York. Their plays proved popular enough that by the early 1960s, Margaret Lindman had her own television show. “Just Imagine” aired on WTTW, Chicago’s channel 11, each Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. They would tape the program early in the morning, at 6 a.m. at the Museum of Science and Industry. Then by 4:30 in the afternoon the neighborhood children would gather at the Lindman house to watch it with the “stars.”

When “Just Imagine’s” run ended, the next stage of Margaret Lindman’s career involved teaching the teachers. She received her Ph.D. from Loyola, served as an advisory editor for United Educators publications, and in the 1970s started at Northeastern Illinois University as a professor of education, becoming involved in race desegregation and curriculum development.

     

Left: This photo is similar to the one that appeared on the cover of The Chicago Tribune TV Week on February 10, 1962, with Margaret Lindman surrounded by several of her puppets from "Just Imagine."

Right: The Lindman Marionettes in the Ravinia Festival Association 1962 program. "Gerda, the Girl" from "The Snow Queen" is one of the puppets in our museum collection.