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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

JOSEPH, HELEN HAIMAN - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

JOSEPH, HELEN HAIMAN (28 Aug. 1888-15 Aug. 1978) was acknowledged as the "grandmother of American puppetry" because of her practical and scholarly knowledge of marionettes. Born in Atlanta, Ga., she came to Cleveland with her family at the age of 7 and graduated from CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL. After attendance at Vassar, she received a degree from the College for Women (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY) and married Ernest A. Joseph in 1918. Both were active in the early years of the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, he as a trustee and she as a puppeteer. Mrs. Joseph attacked her assignment seriously enough to author the first authoritative English-language history of the subject, A Book of Marionettes, published in 1920. Following the death of her husband in 1919, she went with her 2 daughters, Anne and Ernestine, to Europe to pursue her studies in puppetry, which were sufficiently advanced to qualify her to write the entry on puppets and marionettes for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Joseph returned to Cleveland in 1924 to establish a puppet theater, the Pinocchio Players, which performed both locally and nationally. She wrote many of the company's plays, some of which were published in 1927. In 1938 she became director of puppet productions at CAIN PARK THEATER, an activity curtailed by WORLD WAR II. Mrs. Joseph then became an advertising copy writer for Fuller & Smith & Ross, while maintaining her interest in puppetry as a charter member of the Puppeteers of America. Among her civic activities, she was a founder of the progressive Park School in the 1920s and a board member of the LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS (LWV) OF CLEVELAND and the WOMEN'S CITY CLUB.

Last Modified: 17 Jul 1997 02:46:31 PM

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