One of the more colorful denizens of Washington Square Park, Syers first encountered former journalist/tenants’ rights activist Doris Diether when she started watching his shows and bringing him some of her past articles about marionettes. Although she rarely spoke, she always managed to communicate with Syers. Inspired by her big personality, he couldn’t resist making a puppet in her image. When presented with it, Diether was charmed, both by her tiny doppelganger and by its maker. Thus began their lovely friendship and partnership. She learned to maneuver the marionette of herself and perform alongside Syers. After a while, Diether started expressing herself in words as well as actions (and articles). It turns out she’d been unable to speak for a year. She finally had surgery to correct the problem. After that, there was no stopping her. Daily, she would pass through the park chatting with everyone like she was the mayor.
When filmmaker David Friedman encountered the duo in the park, he decided to make a documentary short about them for AARP exploring their beginnings. Both the film and the friendship are thoroughly charming. I hope you enjoy them as I did!