Cat Marionette

Description (Brief)
This marionette from the 1930s was created and used by female puppeteer, Molka Reich . The cat is made of painted canvas and paper mache ,and is operated by a wood airplane control with seven strings. It has a moveable mouth and its body is very flexible.
Molka Reich.originally from New York, moved to Florida and initially was a member of the Federal Writers Project doing research, on the culture and development of South Florida . She was a strong believer in puppet shows as education for young children. She became a member of the Federal Theater project and established a marionette program in South Florida. As supervisor of the Marionette Project she depended on donations of old cloth and accessories to make the puppets. Molka taught women from the Sewing Project, established for unskilled workers who needed employment, to help make the puppets and scenery.
Created by Roosevelt during the depression , the Federal Theater project employed jobless theater professionals and made the performing arts available to the vast numbers of citizens who had little money to spend on entertainment. Active from 1935-1939, the Federal Theater project produced over 2700 plays and was seen by about 30 million children and adults most of whom had never before seen a play. FTP averaged 100 shows a week in 22 states.
Reich stayed in Florida and continued to travel and perform puppet shows throughout the state. She was especially fond of producing puppet shows for children and a strong proponent of using puppet shows as an educational tool to teach young children life lessons. During World War ii she played to service men and hospitals in addition to Saturday morning performances for children and their parents. After the war she opened two companies that featured acting and another for marionettes. Reich moved from Florida to New Jersey in 1956 and performed puppet shows until 1986.
A collection of her puppets can be found at George Mason University, in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington DC,
Currently not on view
date made
Reich, Molka
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
canvas (overall material)
paper mache (overall material)
overall: 10 in x 16 in; 25.4 cm x 40.64 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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