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Puppets: Topo Gigio
Topo Gigio
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History of Topo Gigio

History of Topo GigioThe delightful little Italian mouse was created by Maria Perego from Milan, Italy.  Topo Gigio had already been around for awhile before Ed Sullivan, but almost everybody remembers him best for being a recurring guest on "The Ed Sullivan Show".  Topo Gigio was the star of his own Italian movie in 1961 called "Le Avventure di topo Gigio" ("The Adventures of Topo Gigio").  In 1965, this film would be released on CBS-TV and called "The Magic World of Topo Gigio".  However, Topo made his first American appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on April 14, 1963.  In 1965, Mrs. Maria Perego Caldura received an American patent for the complex mechanisms of the Topo Gigio puppet.  It took three people to operate Topo Gigio, with a fourth supplying the voice.

    Topo was ten inches tall and made of a half pound of foam rubber.  He was controlled by sticks (not strings, like most puppets).  The puppeteers wore black hoods, black velour clothing, and worked against a black backdrop so they were invisible to the audience.  And if you remember seeing Topo, you KNOW they're invisible.  The little mouse looks like he's a lifeform of his own!

    The puppeteers moved Topo with their hands and three inch sticks.  Maria Perego, Topo's creator, moved Topo's mouth and legs.  Frederico Giolo moved Topo's arms, while his wife Annabella controlled the puppets oversized ears.  The man who gave Topo his voice was Peppino Mazullo (some sources have called him Giuseppe Mazullo), who provided it offstage.

    Topo Gigio appeared on Ed Sullivan over 50 times and closed the final show in 1971.  Although finished in America, Topo found new fame as his creators took him to South America, Spain, and Japan.  Topo also appeared on a weekly Italian TV show and a 1980s Japanese cartoon series.