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Chapter III:

Topo Gigio’s first steps.

As soon as born I was confronted with the reality of show biz, a difficult show where I had to entertain. With the fast forwarded voice of Domenico Modugno, and I was puppettered by Maria and Federico, who made me do a lot of takes as they demanded a perfect synch and a movement of ballet (dance) to a rhythm, but above all entertaining and creative. At the end of the show I was so very tired, but the applauses of the audience made me forget my fatigue.

I thought with such applause my career would be launched without difficulty. I imagined going around theaters singing “La Sveglietta” (“My Little Clock”) forever, but it was not like that as Maria decided to take me out the market until I was ready - an exceptional puppet - original and perfect. First of all the concentrating on the “movement”.

The puppet that appeared on the first show moved its legs with some sticks tied to its heels, but this system had a lot of problems, and thinking and rethinking finally one day Maria saw the solution as she yelled: “This is what I have to do–mix the techniques.”. What entertains me of a marionette?

“It’s his fast movements, comic, cordial, that is obtained by inserting the hand and arm into the glove, and this puppet has to have these qualities, and its similarities closer to reality and gracefulness... therefore...” she put me together and took me apart a bunch of times. Turned me inside out, took off my shorts and put me on my long pants, drilled my back out through my pants and legs. Maria’s fingers moved me, she was the only one who dared, as the rest of the crew didn’t want anything to do with this new technique of animation, as the found it unnecessary and difficult.

But they were reluctant to accept the innovations (as it was the case when Maria and Federico used a judge’s black toga against the black background as provided by RAI’s (the National Italian Broadcasting Co.) - tailoring shop, instead of the usual uniform of the black pants a sweater. But as they saw the phenomenal results, they fell in love with the concept and tried to appropriate the system for their own use.

But this did not worry me or Maria too much, day by day, our beautiful relationship developed. “Dear little Gigio, you can’t continue to be mute”, so she stalked Peppino Mazzullo, whom she knew well and respected, as he was the voice of a bunny, another of Maria’s characters that she herself moved.

The bunny had held court for over a year on a TV program in the afternoons entertaining children, interpreting beautiful stories about little animals living in the forest. Peppino was not so happy about leaving the bunny, to which he was so close to, to change to a mouse whose tone was a fast forward version of the Domenico Modugno voice. But Maria with her fingers in my legs and with dexterity, doing all the fun movements, making cartwheels and a thousand other cute cajoles, finally Mazzullo caved in and said “Yes”.

The Team was ready, but RAI had no real intention of making Topo Gigio a series, as he was a difficult and expensive character to manage, therefore only using Topo Gigio in an occasional evening program. I remember Guglielmo Zucconi (father of the great journalist Vittorio Zucconi that for years has been living and writing from the United States) and a journalist himself, that frequented the Perego studios, a crossroad and meeting place for cultural and journalism icons. Guglielmo fell in love with the Topo Gigio innovation in the field of marionettes, and therefore he invited me on his evening show.

Chapter IV - Topo Gigio was a success, but there is no real work for him in Italy, so he goes on to work in foreign countries, where he finds much success, so he lands in the exciting world of American show business, precisely on the “Ed Sullivan Show” >>