Many of my regular readers know that I have taken classes at Puppet School founded by master puppeteer Michael Earl. Several days ago, he updated his Facebook with some news, which he doesn’t do all that often. It was revealed that he has been diagnosed with colon cancer.
A friend and former student of his set up a fundraising page for him to help with the medical expenses. The outpour of support from everyone was really amazing to watch. The initial goal of $10,000 was reached within 24 hours. I can’t help but think, how much good will has the man built up over the years for this to happen?
He’s always been a gentle, kind soul, and a good friend and mentor to many people. Looking at the messages people left on the page, I saw a bunch of former students (many of us know one another, naturally) and a number of big names (in the puppeteering circle, anyway) too. He has deeply influenced many people.
His classes was where I first received professional training in puppeteering. I still remember watching him do demonstrations in class and being in awe of what he could do with the puppets. I still remember our class singing him happy birthday in class (with puppets, naturally) at a time when Puppet School wasn’t even established and it was just him renting studio time to teach the classes. And we were still blown away with his performances during our shows, even though we were all perfectly aware of how these things work.
Even if you didn’t know him personally, you might have seen his work in projects such as Sesame Street, Muppets movies, and Team America. He was best known as the original Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street. (You can see him in this interview when the local news came to visit and he ended up talking about it and doing the voice.) Many have been touched by his work, without realizing it.
He’s now taking a leave of absence from teaching, and we all wish him a speedy recovery. (Well, I don’t think these things are ever speedy, but ASAP recovery doesn’t sound right either.)
Here’s a link to the fundraising page, if you would like to help the man in his battle: