H.R. Pufnstuf Creators Sid and Marty Krofft Are Still Hollywood’s Masters of Puppets

The visionary puppeteers—who are still developing shows—are being honored with a well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1930

Few acts in Hollywood have been as durable and impactful as Sid and Marty Krofft, Montreal-born puppeteer brothers who have created some of the most iconic television shows of the last 50 years and continue to head one of the most endearing and enduring independent studios in Hollywood.

The pair first hit it big in the ’60s with Les Poupées de Paris, a racy, celebrity-filled marionette show seen by millions at world fairs and theme parks. Since then they have unleashed a torrent of fanciful characters, from jolly H.R. Pufnstuf to the terrifying Sleestaks of Land of the Lost, from the living hats of Lidsville to a foam Dolly Parton used in D.C. Follies, many of whom now reside in their 5,000-foot Hollywood warehouse.

Following H.R. Pufnstuf’s recent 50th anniversary, the brothers will finally be honored this month with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, fittingly located in front of the Funko toy store on Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood Museum will follow with a massive retrospective of their work in June. “We’ve done 20 pilots in our career,” says 82-year-old Marty. “We got 18 on the air, and 17 were hits. We did better than Joe DiMaggio.”

Clockwise from top left: In the 1990s Rhino released this DVD, including episodes of The Bugaloos, Lidsville, and the Far Out Space Nuts; a hand puppet based on Witchiepoo; a life-size foam version of Bette Davis that was among the puppet patrons of a bar run by Fred Willard in the 1987 Krofft show D.C. Follies; Sigmund and the Sea Monsters plush; Marionettes based on celebrities like W.C. Fields made up the cast of Les Poupées de Paris; this original Sleestak costume was worn on ‘Land of the Lost’ by the future 6-foot-11 basketball star Bill Laimbeer. Center: A recent mosaic based on the children’s show H.R. Pufnstuf adorns the Kroffts’ office wall

Ryan Schude

Sid and Marty’s parents lost everything in a hurricane when Sid was nine years old, and Marty was just an infant. “A couple that didn’t have any kids sort of adopted me because I was, like, the dreamer,” Sid, 90, remembers. “They worked at a theater and took me to the opening day of The Wizard of Oz. It was the first movie I ever saw. I didn’t know if I wanted to be an actor, but I knew I wanted to be in that world—and I was too tall to be a munchkin. The next week they took me to a stage show, and there was a puppet act.” Sid was hooked. His first marionette production was in front of the family home, soon after that he joined the circus. He started playing nightclubs, and by the 1950s he was touring with Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Judy Garland. Marty joined him in creating Les Poupées de Paris and turned a puppet show into an empire.

The duo continues to develop shows. A new generation knows them from their Nick Jr. show Mutt & Stuff and the Amazon Prime reboot of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. The brothers remade Land of the Lost as a movie with Will Ferrell and Sigmund with David Arquette in the lead role. “There’s always scary stuff at the beginning of a Disney movie, some moment of tension,” says Arquette, who presented the brothers with their lifetime achievement Emmy last year. “Some of [the Kroffts’] characters were scary, like Witchiepoo and the Sleestaks, but you can’t be too scary. I was too scary when we started, and they told me to tone it down.”

The duo continues to develop new shows, have a line of collectible toys, and a traveling pop-up is in the works called the Psychedelic World of Sid & Marty Krofft. Both brothers have long denied that their creations were fueled by reality-altering substances. “If I did as many drugs as they said I did,” says Marty. “I’d be dead today.”

Sid and Marty Krofft receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Thursday, February 13, 11:30 a.m.; 6201 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.


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