Fator, a master of puppets, was born in Brooklyn in the fall of 1928, the only child of German immigrant parents. His mother, Joanna (a dancer) and his father, Charles, were both artists — one of his best friends was the New York sculptor John Varvatos. As a child, Fator made models and made his own props, which he wore around the house.
Fator had a lot to learn growing up in public school. He had to memorize the lyrics to “The Music Man.” (He learned the tune by heart.) He wanted to be a doctor, but he dropped out when he was 16. He later worked in the movie industry as a makeup artist on “The Seven Dwarfs of Smaug.”
Fator’s talent for puppetry came from the movies he seen and read. He once saw a woman fall off of a horse, and he immediately wanted to use puppet horses as a tool for comedy. He started his own company, Fator Models, in 1948 and in 1954 hired puppeteer Harry Hayfield of New York City. Hayfield soon became an international icon for the puppet genre and he and Fator teamed up again in 1951 for the production of two Oscar-winning films in which Hayfield acted as puppeteer, puppeteer, and stuntman.
Fator’s first film as a puppeteer came in 1953 with “In Which He Was Never Born.” This is where Fator made his name and it’s also where the series began. Fator wanted to create a film that focused on the life of Harry Hayfield as a child.
Fator wanted to create a film that focused on the life of Harry Hayfield as a child.
Hayfield directed two films for TV in the 1950s. One, “The Star,” was a comedy about a man who’s about to marry a rich, powerful woman. The film had an interesting formula: a story starts with a small baby who’s lost, but when he finds it again, all hell breaks loose. The second film, “The Last Unicorn,” was a very dark movie that would be considered an Oscar contender. The movie was inspired by the story of Fator’s own father, who was murdered by a man who was jealous that Fator’s father was married to another woman. The death of Fator’s father was the impetus for his idea of animating animals, and he and his partner Harry built a series of animal puppets (
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