Cora Baird

In a reverse of the usual sequence of events, Cora Eisenberg Baird started playing with dolls when she grew up and got married to puppeteer Bil Baird. Baird studied dance with Martha Graham before joining the notable Group Theatre and taught Graham’s dance technique at the Toy Theater, where she also performed. She appeared in a number of Broadway shows before meeting Bil Baird on the set of Orson Welles’s 1937 production of Dr. Faustus. The couple married four weeks after they met, and Cora gave up acting and dance to become a full partner in Bil & Cora Baird Marionettes. They performed at the 1939 and 1940 World’s Fairs and in the 1941 Ziegfeld Follies. In the 1940s and 1950s, they created educational and public service films, which allowed them to hire blacklisted friends thanks to loopholes in the rules regarding children’s entertainment. Always supportive of fellow creators, Baird also founded the American Puppet Arts Council. In 1965, the Bairds opened the Bil Baird Theatre, entertaining a quarter of a million people with twenty-eight puppeteering productions over the years. That year, they also created one of their best-known pieces, the “Lonely Goatherd” sequence for The Sound of Music.

Topics: Dance, Film, Theater
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Though she studied dance with Martha Graham and was a member of the legendary Group Theatre, Cora Baird (1912-1968) found her ultimate destiny linked with her husband and the Bill & Cora Baird Marionettes. Together they performed for vaudeville, Broadway, television and industrial film audiences, entertaining and teaching hundreds of thousands of children and adults.

Institution: Private collection

Date of Birth
Birthplace

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Cora Baird." (Viewed on May 23, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/baird-cora>.

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