French travelling puppeteer. Hector Duchemin owes his celebrity to the popularity of two characters, Tape-à-l’oeil and Bastian, which he performed with at fairs and religious festivals of small villages and towns throughout Provence and part of Languedoc. His performances included Tape à-l’oeil perd la tête (Clap-Eye Loses his Head), L’Omelette de Bastian (Bastian’s Omelette), À menteur menteur et demi (Liar Liar and a Half)… Duchemin improvised, sprinkled some Provençal into his dialogues, grabbed his public’s enthusiasm through his great vivacity, and didn’t hesitate to call his puppet booth (French: castelet) “Grand Théâtre des marionnettes du Grand Chemin” (Great Duchemin’s Grand Puppet Theatre).

Previously a wine merchant clerk, Hector Duchemin discovered puppetry through his marriage to Adelaïde Ducastor, daughter of a puppeteer from Nîmes whose business he took over. On May 18, 1887, during a fit of insane jealously, he killed his wife by setting fire to his theatre, and with that exchanged his theatrical fame for that of regional miscellaneous news item.

(See France.)