American puppeteer. For twenty years the Sue Hastings’ Marionettes were one of North America’s largest puppet companies with as many as a dozen troupes out on the road and a stock of puppets exceeding two thousand.
Sue Hastings did her first work with puppetry at Columbia University in 1924. She studied briefly with Tony Sarg and then launched her own company that became a major competitor to Sarg. Puppeteers of the 1930s frequently worked several of the major companies. Frank Sullivan was a puppet manipulator who worked for Sarg, then Sue Hastings, and later Bil Baird.
By 1930, five Hastings companies were on tour. The Sue Hastings’ Marionettes had seasons at three world’s fairs: Chicago, Century of Progress (1933), Dallas, Texas Exhibition (1936), and the New York World’s Fair (1939). A special agreement with The Walt Disney Company allowed her to create the Mickey Mouse Circus. The company performed at Steel Pier in Atlantic City (New Jersey) from 1924 to 1942. In 1935, they performed in Scotland and England, culminating with an engagement at the London Palladium. In 1937, they were invited to perform at the White House. Peter Rabbit, Sinbad the Sailor, and Hansel and Gretel played at Martin Beck Theater on Broadway (1927-1928).
Sue Hastings worked on three satirical shows for Broadway audiences, each using caricature puppets: Americana (1932) with marionettes (string puppets) of Herbert Hoover and John D. Rockefeller, At Home Abroad (1935) with a puppet of Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hooray for What? (1937), which included a puppet of the show’s star comedian, Ed Wynn.
With touring impossible during World War II, Sue Hastings “retired” in 1942, but quickly began a new role as a teacher of puppetry at Miami University. Under her direction, students performed on Miami television from 1957 to 1962.
“Linn” Lynnea Roberts Linsley became the company manager in 1947. Linn bought the company and, in 1952, the Linsleys moved the Sue Hastings’ Marionettes to Dallas, Texas, where they were frequently seen on television until 1962.
(See United States of America.)
- Grubidge, Dorlis M. Sue Hastings: Puppet Showwoman 1924-1942. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin, 1989.
- Grubidge, Dorlis M. Sue Hastings: Puppet Showwoman. North Vancouver (BC): Charlemagne Press, 1993.
- Hastings, Sue, and Dorcas Ruthenburg. How to Produce Puppet Plays. 1940.