A story on the University of Washington website caught my eye recently: Aurora Valentinetti, daughter of Italian immigrants and Seattle native, received the UW Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award this summer. Valentinetti has been affiliated with the UW School of Drama for 50 years — first as student, then as lecturer and associate professor.
Valentinetti is a puppeteer, reveling in the centuries-long art so entwined with the cultural history of Italy. She created her own puppet show for KCTS/Channel 9 in the mid-1960s called the “Puppet Playhouse Workshop,” which was immensely popular. She staged puppet shows during the holidays in the great showroom windows of the old Frederick & Nelson department store and took her productions on the road to fairs and festivals. She was involved in all stages of the production — hand-sewing the costumes, writing the scripts, and operating the marionettes.
Valentinetti donated much of her puppet collection to the Valentinetti Puppet Museum in Bremerton, which opened in 1999. Now 98, she lives in Wenatchee. Watch for a profile of her in L’Italo-Americano, coming soon!