Remo Saraceni, Creator of ‘Big’s Walking Piano, Passes Away at 89

by Madonna

Remo Saraceni, the innovative mind behind the iconic Walking Piano featured in the movie “Big,” has passed away at the age of 89. He died on June 3 in Swarthmore, Pa., due to heart failure, according to Benjamin Medaugh, his assistant and caretaker.

Mr. Saraceni was renowned for his creations in interactive electronics, which included a clock that could speak the time, a stethoscope stereo system synced to one’s heartbeat, and Plexiglas clouds that illuminated in response to sounds. His inventions operated on what he termed “people energy,” harnessing human touch, voice, and body heat.


The Walking Piano, spanning nearly 16 feet, became a cultural touchstone after its appearance in the film “Big.” In a memorable scene, Tom Hanks, playing the character Josh Baskin, and Robert Loggia danced on the giant keys at F.A.O. Schwarz, performing tunes like “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks.” This spontaneous display of joy led to Josh’s promotion within the toy company, setting the movie’s narrative in motion.


Originally showcasing his musical innovation as the “Musical Daisy” in 1970, an interactive sculpture at the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum, Mr. Saraceni continued refining his concept until unveiling the Walking Piano at his Philadelphia studio in 1982. Its popularity soared after F.A.O. Schwarz acquired one, becoming a sought-after attraction for visitors and a favored location for film and television shoots.


Mr. Saraceni’s legacy extends beyond his inventions; he enriched popular culture and inspired countless individuals to engage with technology in playful and imaginative ways.


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