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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thunderbirds Creator Gerry Anderson Has Died

This blog is in honor of Gerry Anderson who died this past Wednesday.

Gerry was the creator of The Thunderbirds television show that was not only hugely popular for me as a kid, but when I was in Japan back between 1990-1993 was hugely popular there... I know, because I used to amuse my students by pretending to be a marionette for them - just like the cast of the Thunderbirds were/are.

Gerry died at age 83 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and was the main mover behind a number of puppet series commissioned by Lew Grade's Independent Television Corporation. They made the company a fortune from the space age: perhaps the best known was Thunderbirds (1965-66), and among the others were Fireball XL5 (1962-63), Stingray (1964) and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68).

Anderson embarked on Thunderbirds in 1964. For Grade, international sales – particularly into the US market – were a key concern. So Thunderbirds focused on the Tracy brothers, with first names borrowed from the US astronauts Scott Carpenter, Virgil Grissom, Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Gordon Cooper. Enormously popular in its time, the series is still being repeated today.

For me... it was Alan Tracy's girlfriend Tin-Tin (Malaysian for 'Sweet') that made the show. I was in love with that beautiful puppet and named my first dog - a blue roan cocker spaniel after her.

Of course... try telling the Japanese junior high school students about Tin-Tin... there is no Ti alphabet in Japanese, so they substitute the Chi sound, making her Chin-Chin... a slang way to say penis. Yes... I was in love with a puppet named 'penis'. Let the hilarity ensue.

In Japan, Tin-Tin is known ans Min-Min.

As well, in the photo above, you can see the model kit I bought in Japan and built and painted there. The model sits on a shelf about four feet to my left as I write this, with the original box for it a couple of feet higher on a shelf filled with the paints I bought to paint it - long since dry, but I'm too sentimental to throw it out. Besides... it still holds other parts of the model, too small to display.

Ahhhh Gerry... thank-you for your gift. This child smiles in your honor.

Andrew Joseph

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