He was born in the creative environment of Robinson, Illinois, birthplace of novelist James Jones, and the Heath candy bar.
In 1961, Tom Bonham’s family moved from Robinson to the Saint Louis suburb of Webster Groves, Missouri. Tom eventually moved to a 100+ year old Victorian house in the historic Lafayette Square area of St. Louis. That home had large fish ponds and a small grove of banana trees in the backyard. His current residence is now in Saint Peters Missouri about 30 miles from downtown Saint Louis. He still has a fair sized fish pond with his large butterfly koi and various ornate goldfish.
Tom Bonham has a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from Saint Louis University and Missouri Life-time teaching certification in speech, drama, and English.
He worked as a full-time (HS English) and as a substitute teacher (primarily elementary art), an entertainer with my his puppet company, lead puppeteer for Sid & Marty Krofft, set and prop work at dinner theaters, created special costumes for children’s theater in Chicago, a visual presentation assistant at Famous Barr, customer service and physician relations for HMO’s, manager for boat transport company, manager for a commercial lawn and irrigation company, and manager for a residential lawn company.
Now, besides puppetry, he does web and digital image work, and am also a part-time service tech representing HP and Dell. He also writes business application software, and creates and edits photos, soundtracks, and movies on the computer. (He designed and created this entire website with its composite photos, movies, and slideshows.)
Tom Bonham who began performing in 1957, has been a professional puppeteer since 1972. He performs with rod, hand, and muppet(TM)-style puppets, and, with string puppets (marionettes). While he currently performs primarily in his local area, Tom Bonham has presented his shows in such places as Washington, DC; New Orleans; Denver; Salt Lake City; San Jose, CA; and Minot, ND (in February). He performs in schools, libraries, shopping centers, private clubs, community festivals, and similar events. For seven years he was the puppet company for Westfield Shoppingtown’s Kids’ Club program in all their Saint Louis County, Saint Peters, and Cape Girardeau shoppingtowns (the programs actually started when the center were owned by Centermark Properties). .
Tom Bonham creates all of the puppets which he uses in the show, as well as the scenery and staging. He operates most performances alone, although a few shows do require an assistant puppeteer. Tom Bonham is known for imaginative uses of puppetry from his yarn boa that changes shapes into many different creatures, to the highly imaginative puppets in Land of Imagination, to unusual effects such as a rod puppet (with rods to his hands) that puts on a shirt. His latest production “The Carnival of the Animals” is constructed from plastic bottles, plastic tableware, brushes, and various dollar store items in a highly imaginative way. As one teacher said “I will never look at a toilet brush the same.”
Tom Bonham who began performing in 1957, has been a professional puppeteer since 1972. Originally based in Saint Louis MO, and now Saint Peters, MO, he has toured throughout the United States. He has performed and given puppetry workshops at many national, regional, and local puppet festivals. He is a member of The Puppet Guild of Greater St. Louis, Inc., Puppeteers of America, Inc., and UNIMA-USA.
Tom also appeared in a 4 minute opening segment of season seven of America’s Got Talent – The Saint Louis Auditions on May 29th, 2012, but due to problems with legal clearances had to create a new act at the last minute and only succeeded in impressing Howie Mandel, and getting a hearty laugh from Sharon Osbourne.