Joseph Bruen: You were born in Harlem New York. Explain to us what it was like growing up as a kid for you.
Noel MacNeal: My mom was a single mom. My father left us when I was 18 months old (and ran off with a woman whom he married, but never divorcing my mom and having another son, and never telling THEM about us – but that’s another story), so she worked two jobs to pay for private junior high/high school for me (rather than going to the public school where the kids g0t stabbed or the other where the kid got shot). But we weren’t in the projects or a walk up. We lived in the Lenox Terrace, in a two-bedroom apartment with a terrace and a doorman. (In fact, we are featured in the book, “Sacred Bonds” by Keith Brown.)
Joseph Bruen: When did you first become interested in puppets and that whole world in general?
Noel MacNeal: When I was a kid there were more puppets on TV; Burr Tilstrom still had “Kukla, Fran, & Ollie.” Shari Lewis had Lambchop. Mister Rogers. And Paul Winchell had “Jerry Mahoney Time.” (FYI: Did you know that Paul Winchell invented the artificial heart? See? Puppetry saves lives!) I had grown up with these and ones on local TV and they were either little hand puppets or marionettes.