Friday, September 28, 2012

A gallery of grotesque celebrity puppets from "Spitting Image" (1987)

A group shot of royal puppets from Spitting Image

England's bizarre satirical puppet show Spitting Image ran for an astonishing 132 episodes on ITV from 1984-1996. With its extremely topical parodies of politics and show business, the program was something like our Saturday Night Live... only with a much nastier edge and with all the celebrity parts being played by foam and latex doppelgangers of the rich and famous. These three-dimensional, often unflattering caricatures became the show's trademark. Although the original British series never quite caught on in the States, the puppets did have a brief window of notoriety in America thanks to their appearance in the "Land of Confusion" video by Genesis in 1986 and a few prime time network specials. Although America's interest in the show was short-lived, the fad did manage to produce at least one souvenir book. 

In 1987, Harcourt Brace Jonavich published Spitting Images, a collection of photographic portraits of some of the puppets, with accompanying text by National Lampoon's Sean Kelly. In the interest of preserving pop culture history, I have decided to scan some of the better ones. The captions are directly from the book. The photos are by John Lawrence Jones

Bette Midler: America's Happiest Camper

Bruce Springsteen: For unto Us a Savior is Born in the U.S.A.

Johnny Carson: He Do Re-run-run-run, He Do Re-run-run

Bill Cosby: Call Him a Doctor? Okay. He's a Doctor.

Clint Eastwood: Dirty Harry Says, "Have an Ice Cream. Or Else!"

Jack Nicholson: Not Invited? But I'm Always Invited!

Mick Jagger: Rolling Stone Youth Formula: Removes Lines, Wrinkles, Moss!

Muammar Al-Qaddafi: Radical Sheik

Leonard Nimoy: To Be Spock or Not To Be Spock? That Is the Question.

Pee-wee Herman: Disney Just Drew Mickey Mouse. Pee-wee Is Mickey Mouse!

Prince Charles: The Dunce and Future King

Richard Pryor: A Blazing Talent Gone to the Dogs

Queen Elizabeth: A Scepter is Haunting Europe

Ronald & Nancy Reagan: What Did the President Know and When Did She Know It?

Sylvester Stallone: All He Wants Is for His Country to Love Him As Much As He Does

Barbara Streisand: The Biggest Star So Far (By a Nose)

Margaret Thatcher: A Tory Party Animal - A Minister in Her Prime

Woody Allen & Mia Farrow: Hanna and Her Sisters Meet the Brothers Karamazov

If you enjoyed this article, here's the sequel.