Break-Away Skeleton

BREAK-AWAY SKELETONThe old-time marionette showman never failed to thrill his audience and mystify it by a dancing figure, generally a clown or skeleton, which flew apart and came back together again. The skeleton's head was of wood, with a hinged jaw that clacked as it shut. The rest of the figure was also carved of wood, sometimes with covered-wire ribs. Wrist, elbow, ankle and knee joints were made of interlocked screw-eyes, all-too­flexible and clicking. But screw-eyes at the shoulders and hips were not fastened together. Therein was the trick!

From one control stick ran strings to support the shoulders and head, and the jaw-string. The head was not fastened to the neck at all, but hung from a single string. Screw-eyes at the temples, through which the shoulder strings passed without fastening, kept it from turning.

From a second stick ran a pair of strings through the shoulder screw-eyes, fastened to the upper-arm screw-eyes; and another pair through the hip screw-eyes, fastened to the thigh screw-eyes. From a third stick ran strings through elbow screw­eyes, fastened to screw-eyes at the knees.

The marionette dances in a low light against a dark background. The first two control sticks are held in one hand, the third in the other. By raising its end alternately the marionette is made to wave its arms and legs about. Pull up on the central string that supports the head; it will float and drop back into place. Hold the first stick in the teeth, lower the second with one hand and continue to manipulate the third in the other. The arms and legs will dance off into the air, and reunite with the trunk when the second stick is brought up again.


My NotesAt one time there was a video posted on the net that actually showed the action that is attained by this type of trick. That original video is no longer available but a shorter version of it that does show the marionette in action, although not showing the break-away feature, can be found at one of the links below. The first link shows the longest version of the video I have been able to find.
Metacafe.com
On Guzer.com
On Planitvids.com