We are very sad to hear that Joy Laurey, A.P. Films’ first puppeteer, and the woman who helped Gerry Anderson begin his puppet adventures, has died aged 90.
Early Life and Career
Joy, who was born Joy Dorothy Johnson on the 30th April 1924, was the great-granddaughter of Sam Laurey, the famous Drury Lane clown. Her mother, Dorrie, became interested in puppets in the 30s and, opting to continue using the stage name Laurey, founded the Laurey Puppet Company. During the war, Dorrie and her two daughters, Joy and Honor, performed with their marionette ensemble across the UK and Europe, entertaining the troops.
Joy’s first encounter with television was in 1950 when the BBC invited one of the Laurey Puppet Company’s creations, a young boy called Mr Snippet, to appear on television. This resulted in Joy being invited to create a new puppet character for a television series called Whirligig which led her to produce a vegetable marionette called Mr Turnip. Mr Turnip was a huge success – spawning a fair amount of tie-in merchandise – and Joy went onto create a whole array of vegetable marionette sidekicks.
The Adventures of Twizzle
In 1957 she was contacted by Gerry Anderson who was looking to produce a puppet television series called The Adventures of Twizzle for children’s novelist Roberta Leigh. Despite a brief encounter with marionettes for a Kellogg’s Ricicles advert featuring Noddy, Gerry ostensibly knew nothing about puppets and it was left to Joy and the Laurey Puppet Company to get that side of the operation up and running.
During August 1957 she visited A.P. Films a few times and after receiving her brief about what would be needed she decided to enlist some help from fellow friends and puppeteers Murray Clark and Christine Glanville. Joy built all of the puppets herself and together with her two colleagues operated the characters for all 52-episodes.
A Return to the Stage
Upon completion of the series in early 1958, Joy opted to return to stage work leaving the next series, Torchy the Battery Boy, in the capable hands of Christine Glanville, whose association with Gerry was to last for over four decades.
Joy married Wladyslaw Luczyc-Wyhowski in 1959 and had two children, Juliana and Christopher.
Later years saw Joy became an occupational therapist at Severall’s Hospital in Colchester where she was able to utilise her talents in painting, music and puppetry.
An Essential Contribution
In 2007 she auctioned off much of her puppet memorabilia, including many fascinating items relating to Twizzle and the early days of A.P. Films. Included in the lots were several items of correspondence showing what a key role she played in the formation of what would eventually become the company’s ‘puppet department’.
Following the success of shows such as Thunderbirds, Joy’s enormous contribution to A.P. Films’ future is often forgotten. However, without her, things would have been very different indeed. Here at Anderson Entertainment / The Official Gerry Anderson Website we remain indebted to her for helping Gerry on his way to success.
Joy Laurey (married name: Luczyc-Wyhowski) 1924 to 2014