A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object — a puppet— in real time to create the illusion of life. Depending on the type of puppetry, the puppeteer may be visible to or hidden from the audience. A puppeteer can operate a puppet indirectly by the use of strings, rods, wires, electronics or directly by his or her own hands. Some puppet styles require puppeteers to work together as a team to create a single puppet character.
There are a wide range of styles of puppetry, and all require puppeteers. There are shadow puppets, rod puppets, marionettes, table-top puppets, body puppets, finger and glove puppets. Whatever the style, the puppeteer's role is to manipulate the physical object in such a manner that the audience believes the object is imbued with life. In some instances the persona of the puppeteer is also an important feature. Similarly, animators can make a puppet move on film by using stop motion, where the puppet is moved tiny fractions in between each frame.
List of notable puppeteers
Sophie Taeuber-Arp (member of the Swiss Dada movement)
Michael Ian Black (American actor)
Peter Brook (British theatrical producer & director)
Alexander Calder (American artist)
Bob Clampett (American animator)
Jean Cocteau (French writer & filmmaker)
Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian playwright)
Alfred Jarry (French writer)
Ted Milton (British poet, performer and musician)
Oskar Schlemmer (German Bauhaus artist)
Pete Seeger (American folk singer) 
Jon Stewart (American comedian)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German artist, scientist & writer)
Phil Vischer (American animator, director, author, co-founder of VeggieTales)
Mike Nawrocki (American animator, director, co-founder of VeggieTales) Non-Puppetry related
Larry Niven's Known Space science fiction stories in which Puppeteers are an alien race.
For information about puppetry technique or the use of puppets, see the respective articles on each kind of puppet.