Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Miss B: The Dancing Bird Figure"

Miss B: The Dancing Bird Figure marionette was made from piano mechanisms, cabinet parts, wire and felt by The Pianistas, a very busy people who were also adept at utilizing their free time. During the long winter months, activities were created to pass the time and entertain... Children would use whatever scraps of materials leftover to make their own figurines, dolls, games and other amusements... like the Dancing Bird Figure... During the turn of the 20th Century, at a road-side general store in New Jersey, Cyrus Braintree acquired the Dancing Bird Figure from a member of the Pianistas tribe... Braintree gave the bird figure the name: Miss 'B', the Incredible Dancing Bird and created one of the most popular Vaudeville shows of its time. With the help of a friend who was a bicycle repairman, he made a coin operated juke box outfitted with a mechanism that would cause the small bird figurine to dance to the music... Miss "B" reached the height of popularity in 1927... Tragically, the bird figurine was destroyed in a hotel fire on East 42nd Street in Manhattan during November of 1929, where Braintree, down on his luck, was trying to stage a comeback tour. Braintree survived the fire, but never recovered from the loss. He made several attempts to create new versions of the bird figure (of which the 10 inch tall "Dancing Bird Figure" is an example), but with no success...

Thanks to M. Frassinelli, for information on this video clip

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