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Mark Ritts
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    (June 16, 1946-December 7, 2009)
    Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania
    Puppeteer/actor/TV producer, director and screenwriter
    Portrayed Lester the Rat on Beakman's World (1992-98)
    Operated and voiced Kino, the puppet co-host of PBS's 'Storytime' (1994-97)
    Co-wrote the parenting book 'Mom I Hate You! Children's Provocative Communication: What It Means and What to Do About It' (2003)
    He thought Lester was a puppet he would operate before discovering that he was going to be wearing a rat suit.
    As Lester, he sported a constantly changing array of tattoos on his bare arms.
    When he won a local Los Angeles Emmy as best host for Storytime, he dropped and broke the statuette.
    His parents, Paul and Mary, were also puppeteers and he got his show biz start working as an assistant for their TV appearances.
    Beakman's World co-star Paul Zaloom said, 'He was the Costello to my Abbott.'
    He said about Storytime, 'There have been many, many occasions where I have felt like pinching myself. I'm back there with this little puppet on my arm thinking, 'Good Lord! You're doing a scene with Kirk Douglas.''

Credit: C. Fishel

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