Master of the strings

Published 1:25 am Saturday, March 18, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Northside Child Development Center got a visit from some former TV stars Thursday afternoon. Applesauce the dragon and Gee Whizzer both made an appearance in Johnson Marionette's production of ‘Neptune's Kingdom' for students at the school.
The show was put on by Greg Johnson of Walled Lake. Johnson's father Ed created many of the string puppets and produced the shows himself for 44 years.
During the mid-1950s, characters created by Ed, including Applesauce and Gee Whizzer, appeared on ‘Milky's Movie Party', which aired on TV in southeastern Michigan.
Johnson has continued the tradition for the last 22 years, doing the shows in schools and libraries around the state.
Johnson still uses the original 60-year-old Gee Whizzer, a gold-colored wizard capable of stirring up magic spells.
He has added an octopus and seahorses to the collection that also includes fish, a turtle and human characters like Willie and Mollie.
Johnson created the elaborate set himself, which includes a stage, curtains, audio system, background scenes and a platform in the very back for the controller of the puppets to walk back and forth on.