Puppeteer Ginny Weiss’ tribute to Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

On Friday, the St. Louis Medical examiner’s office confirmed what family, friends, and the St. Louis theatre community already suspected, that famed puppeteer Bob Kramer had died in a fire on January 20.

The iconic Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes theater was located on the first floor of the building, Kramer and his longtime business and life partner Douglas “Dug” Feltch, lived in the apartment above it; the entire building was destroyed by fire on Jan. 20.

Ginny Weiss, a long-time president of the St. Louis Puppet Guild and 2021 Jewish Light Unsung Hero, knew Kramer for more than 50 years and penned the following tribute in his honor.

A Tribute to Bob Kramer’s Marionettes

If the residents of St. Louis city and county knew only one thing about puppetry, it would be the Bob Kramer marionettes. Fifty years ago, when Bob Kramer and Dug Feltch founded their theatre, their shows inspired a love and interest for puppetry that never existed.

Their colorful marionettes, considered works of art in themselves, lit up the stage. The lively music, dances and stories, brought to life through the skillful manipulation of Bob and Dug, brought joy to audiences young and old. Bob was a genius at designing puppets and he and Dug spent hundreds of hours building them.

Bob once told me it took six weeks, day and night to complete one marionette. Dug was a showman both in front of the curtain and onstage. Together they were the perfect team for achieving theatrical success.

Their puppetry store was the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. There were puppets of all types from all over the world. I made most of my puppets, but once I splurged at Kramer’s on a beautiful life-size Folk Manis puppet. My biggest acquisition was a life-size Afghan hound marionette. I would schlep it to birthday parties and bring it out for the finale. It was a huge hit.

For me, starting out as a puppeteer 50 years ago, Bob and Dug would help me get jobs. Children would see their shows and then beg their parents to hire a puppeteer for their birthday parties. Puppeteers like myself would then be contracted to do the shows. Schools would bring classes to Kramer’s theatre and then follow through by hiring a puppeteer to teach the children how to make puppets or put on a puppet show.

Bob and Dug were sometimes asked to do puppet shows for Purim or Hanukkah. Since I was Jewish, they would consult me on the script.

Bob and Dug were two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I am honored to have been their friend for fifty years. From the moment I met them, they were always friendly, helpful and supportive. My husband and two daughters always loved going to the Kramer’s because of the welcome they were given by Bob and Dug.

Bob and Dug were invaluable members of the Puppet Guild of St. Louis. For the last few years, we held our meetings and annual picnic at their theatre. All through the years, they have hosted our Halloween and Christmas parties, always delighting us with a performance. They also performed at our public guild events.

I am completely devastated by the loss of Bob and the marionette theatre.  My puppet friends are equally heartbroken. I hope and pray that Dug can find a way to keep their legacy alive.

How to help

GoFundMe page has been setup to help Dug Feltch, Bob Kramer’s partner, who lost everything in the fire.