Melvyn B. Helstien received his PhD in theater from the University of Minnesota in 1962. He became a UCLA professor in the
Department of Theater Arts in 1963, served as department vice-chair from 1971-1973 and again from 1981-1985. He retired as
UCLA Professor Emeritus in 1986 and served as President of the national branch of Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA-USA)
from 1986-1987. The collection consists of research files, correspondence, production books, performance notes, photographs,
videotapes, audiotapes, audiocassettes, slides, sketches, puppets, and musical scores documenting Melvyn Helstien's career
as a professor, researcher, and world-renowned puppeteer. The collection also includes records of his work with the UNIMA,
the Puppeteers of America, and the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.
Melvyn Biron Helstien was born on February 2, 1920 in Denver, Colorado. In 1947, Helstien earned his Bachelor of Arts from
the University of Washington. He then obtained his Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama in 1948. In 1962, he
received his PhD in theater from the University of Minnesota. On February 28, 1963, UCLA hired Helstien as a professor in
the Department of Theater Arts. He served as department vice-chair from 1971-1973 and again from 1981-1985. Helstien was also
active in the development of the UCLA Museum of Cultural History, established by Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy in 1963 as
the Museum and Laboratories of Ethnic Arts and Technology. In 1971 the museum name was changed to the Museum of Cultural History,
and today it exists as the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Helstien worked with Patricia Altman to increase the museum's puppet holdings
in preparation for their 1976 exhibit, Asian Puppets: Wall of the World. Helstien also directed, produced, designed, and performed dozens of UCLA theatrical productions. He retired as UCLA Professor
Emeritus in 1986 and served as President of the national branch of Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA-USA) from
1986-1987. Helstien's extensive research, education, and exhibition work in South and Southeast Asian puppet genres in the
1960s had a deep impact on developing the study of Asian puppet forms in the United States, and led to his international recognition
as a puppetry expert. Melvyn Helstien died in Los Angeles at the age of 70 on March 6, 1990, after suffering a stroke.
16.8 Linear Feet
(14 cartons, 2 shoe boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes, and 1 flat box)
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