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Picture Yourself in the World of Adventure- The Sid and Marty Krofft Story

Posted by hughrandle@gmail.com on April 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM


John Lennon wrote, “ Picture yourself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.” Wow, what an imagination. Marshmallow pies, cellophane flowers of yellow and green, kaleidoscope eyes. Listening to the lyrics of that song as an adult, I had to wonder what magical, mystical substance Lennon and his co-lyricist Paul McCartney had gotten into before writing. The same wonder comes over you when you watch any of the early to mid 70‘s television shows of Sid and Marty Krofft.. April 9 is the birthday of Marty Krofft, we will take a look at the vivid imagination and amazingly eclectic bunch of Saturday morning and prime time television that the brothers Krofft developed. Marty Krofft, younger of the two brothers who were to revolutionize Saturday morning television for children was born on April 9, 1937. As promising young puppeteers in the 1960‘s they happened upon Walt Disney who gave them some great advice, “Always put your name over everything you create,because someday it will be worth something.” Heeding that advice, the Krofft brothers first designed the costumes for the Hanna and Barbera Saturday morning hit,The Banana Splits . They designed puppet shows for both the 1962 Worlds Fair in Vancouver and the 1964/65 New York Worlds Fair. In all, Les Poupees des Paris was seen by over nine million people. By the end of the 1960‘s, at the end of the psychedelic period in both music and film, Sid and Marty Krofft put their own Saturday morning television show in circulation, HR Pufnstuf. H.R. Pufnstuf seemed like it could have been a music video right from the crazy sixties music of tangerine trees and marmalade skies. The show revolves around Jimmy and his talking flute (still with me?) who are invited on an adventure by a magical talking boat. The boat, however, is only disguised as a beautiful boat bound for adventure and really belongs to the chief nemesis of the show Witchiepoo. She captures Jimmy and his flute, but they are rescued by the six foot tall yellow dragon Pufnstuf, who doubles as mayor of Living Island. Got it? Not quite? That’s okay.. not everyone is quite awake on Saturday morning and to a generation of children, including me, H.R. Pufnstuf was the stuff weekend mornings were made of. Here is the theme song: Although it ran for just a year, big plans were in the offing for H.R. Pufnstuf. A movie was released with Martha Raye and Mama Cass Eliot from the Mamas and Papas as additional witchy characters. Fresh on the release of the movie, the Krofft brothers added The Bugaloos to their Saturday morning line-up. The Bugaloos, roughly described were The Monkees, but with British accents, oh and let’s not forget- they’re insects. After the Bugaloos, came Lidsville, starring Butch Patrick, young Eddie Munster from a decade earlier. As with the previous two shows, this show tapped into not only the imagination of youth, but also served as a cult following for many drug crazed teens still abuzz from their Friday night activities. Over the years, the Krofft brothers have adamantly denied that their shows were drug driven or created, but their is much debate, especially with characters such as pufnstuf, and falling into oversized top hats, much as Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole. In 1974, Sid and Marty Krofft created Land of the Lost, about a professor and his two children who get lost in a pre-historic world. As they try to escape they are pursued by dinosaurs and Sleestaks, seven foot tall lizard people. Land of the Lost seemed to reach a broader audience and despite attempts in recent years to put out new Lidsville, Pufnstuf and Bugaloos movies, Land of the Lost made it to the big screen with comedian Will Ferrell. Although, razed by critics, the movie brought a whole new generation in touch with the Krofft’s and their crazy imagination. In addition to their Saturday morning forays, the Krofft brothers produced the variety show that was an extremely popular genre in the 70‘s. Shows from the Brady Bunch, the Osmond family, the Bay City Rollers and the Mandrell Sisters all made it to the airwaves in the mid to late 70‘s with varying success. What I found so inspiring about Marty Krofft and why we celebrate his birthday today is that in spite of limited commercial success ( no show of theirs lasted over two seasons), they used tremendous imagination, left no fantasy stone unturned, and continued to believe in their dreams. And those dreams are vivid- they definitely belong in a world of plasticine porters with looking glass ties as Lennon would put it.


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