Hope and Morey Bunin were the creators and operators of the puppets for The Lucky Pup Show and The Great Foodini show. For years they played theatres and night clubs with their troups of puppets. When the shows came to television, they became better known to more people from the four months on CBS than in their 20 years of trouping.

Morey Bunin was born in Chicago in 1910. Morey and his brother Lou worked for famous puppeteer Bil Baird in 1932 where they performed stringed marionettes in windows of Macy's department store. The brothers began to produce shows using string, rod, hand, shadow and animated puppets. He started working for the New York State Welfare Department in Syracuse and worked in various venues for the WPA.

Morey and Hope (Shippee) built puppets and performed free shows in schools and parks in the new York area as a part of the WPA Children's Project in the 1930's. During the Second World War, they joined the Army USO and spent a year entertaining troops in New Guinea, islands in the Pacific and the Philippines.

After the war, they performed on vaudeville circuits in England and the mid-western states of the United States. They worked at Radio City Music Hall and were contracted in 1948 by CBS to do a children's show. "The Adventures of Lucky Pup" would run live for three years at 6:30 pm Monday - Friday and as a kinescope rebroadcast on Saturdays. Lucky Pup was seen in the 1951 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Morey Bunin collaborated with David Seville to produce the puppets of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Morey had made a large puppet of a duck with articulated head and mouth to sit on the head of singer David Seville when he appeared in 1958 on Dick Clark's American bandstand show singing "The Bird Sitting on My Head." He also made a witch doctor puppet to accompany the singing of that bigger Seville hit. The Bunins also made puppets who appear on the opening credits of the Ziegfeld Follies (MGM 1946) Bunin did many characters for early television commercials such as "Bucky Beaver" for Ipana toothpaste.

The puppets created for Alvin & the Chipmunks

Witch Doctor, the Duck (Bird on my head) and assorted others


In 1963, along with cartoonist, puppeteer and radio/TV broadcaster Hank Stohl, Morey and his second wife Charlotte developed an innovative form of video animation which employed some puppetry techniques which was patented as "Aniforms." Aniforms was a characterized as a process of live animation, as opposed to video animation. It was used to a great degree at trade shows, where a hidden operator manipulated the character with rods (similar to a rod puppet, but operated with the puppet lying on a table, as opposed to standing behind a screen or stage), and could the have live interaction with a person. So, for example, if you were passing by, the Bullwinkle character could say, "Hey, Prof. Bryson...nice tie you're wearing today." Video was the mechanism through which it was used on TV, but it was as a "live" cartoon that it was most effective. When someone commented on the Aniform that it was the most important development in animation since Disney, Morey's response was "not really, but it was the most important advancement in puppetry in 300 years."

Aniforms first appearance was on Captain Kangaroo where a character named Fred was manipulated.Fred's voice was Cosmo Alligretti. Aniforms were featured on The Gary Moore Show, What's My Line, The Dick Cavett Show, To Tell The Truth and The Surprise Show.

Morey was a "Silver Circle Awards Inductee" into the New York Emmy organization in 1995.

Morey Bunin died on February 26, 1997 at 86. Upon his death, his family donated all of the puppets, old reels of film, fan letters and other memorabilia to the Museum of the Moving Image, in Long Island City, NY.

Recently a fellow fan of Foodini contacted me and shared with me some pictures of the Bunins and his parents, Maurice and Betty Frank and my new friend (who was a young fellow at the time.) The Franks were lifelong friends of the Bunins (with Maurice and Morey being born the same year (1910) in Chicago.

The pictures are of the Franks and Bunins "fooling around with the puppets anf of young Frank with his Foodini beanie - with the spectacular rubber Foodini on the top!) I thank Arthur for sharing these wonderful and candid pictures with us.











The Cast
The Bunins
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©2004 Rhett Bryson
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Last Updated 03/18/2004