Syd & Marty Krofft

For the greater part of the 1970′s, Sid and Marty Krofft defined Saturday morning children’s television with high-concept stories, ominous themes, alternative realities, hallucinatory production design, trippy music, giant puppets, inadvertent references to skin flutes and more abandoned children than a Dickens retrospective. From the fantastical and frightening H.R. Pufnstuf to the frightening and frightening Land of the Lost, the Krofft brothers spun magic time and time again with shows whose freakish images couldn’t have burned more into a child’s mind if they were attached to the end of a branding iron.

Sid Krofft (born July 30, 1929) and Marty Krofft (born April 9, 1937), are a sibling team of television producers who were influential in children's television and variety show programs in the USA, particularly throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.

They are largely known for a unique brand of ambitious fantasy programs, often featuring large-headed puppets, high-concept plots, and extensive use of low-budget special effects. The team also dominated the arena of celebrity music/variety programs during the period.

Early years

The Krofft brothers, Sid and Marty, were born in Montreal. For many years, they claimed to have been born to a family of fifth-generation puppeteers, but they revealed in 2008 that this story was invented by a publicist in the 1940s. Their father was, in fact, a clock salesman who moved from Canada to Providence, Rhode Island, and then to New York City.[1] Sid Krofft became a noted puppeteer who worked in vaudeville and was a featured player with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the 1940s, Sid created a one-man puppet show, "The Unusual Artistry of Sid Krofft," and performed it throughout the world. His father joined him on tour in Paris while Marty stayed in New York, where he started using his older brother's puppets to earn money by staging performances. By the 1950s, the Krofft brothers were working together, and in 1957, they developed Les Poupées de Paris, a puppet show with more mature themes.

Nice to Meat You (1971)
A young Mersey lad, Jimmy Jim, who eats nothing but fast food gets shot in the head and wakes up in Pattiesburgh, a city “founded, incorporated, governed in a democratic-republican fashion and outfitted with an extensive, financially-prudent mass transportation system by huge, talking hamburgers,” according to the less-than-memorable theme song lyrics. The show revolved around the town’s good-hearted leader “Burgermeister,” the power-pop trio “The Pickle Chips” and the curiously out-of-place “Asian Salad with Premium Spring Salad Mix” all trying to help Jimmy Jim get back to his own world. Unfortunately, the child actor playing Jimmy spent the entire series screaming in utter, unstoppable terror at the sight of the large-headed, anthropomorphic food puppets, resulting in every episode focusing on the costumed cast sitting around playing cards, talking about summer stock theater and dropping dead from heat exhaustion.
Psychotropical Paradise (1974)
A young brother and sister make friends with a talking brownie inside a mirror-walled kewpie doll teetering on the edge of a teacup in a pirate ship sailing against the tide of button-up conformity, as embodied by Billy Barty playing a corn fritter festooned with talking medallions. Although Sid and Marty Krofft have categoricallly denied that Psychotropical Paradise was influenced by–or made any reference to–drug use, the show’s 42-minute opening theme song (in which an old woman moans “I am the one scratching inside the wall behind your bed” over and over again while a xylophone learns to play itself), the use of the same plot for every single epsiode (boy and girl try to find way home, meet cow, the lichen take arms, a beatiful egg hatches from a constable’s eye and the rain echoes the sound of chocolate) and host Syd Barrett (who would end each show demanding to know how the viewers found his home address before retiring to his mother’s basement) all make for a strong counterargument. Despite attempts to impart life lessons (such as the importance of writing your name on your hand, phoneticaly, should you forget who you are), the program baffled critics and scared the bejesus out of four-year-olds, who were its target market. Eventually the show was pulled and replaced with another Krofft series, Clap, Clap, Clap, about giant hands that made thunder noise for a living and the little British boy who winds up in their world for some inexplicable reason or another.
Crash Course (1976)
Three clean-cut teens (Pam, Billy and The Black One) find and fix-up an old jalopy only to realize that not only is it alive but it also embodies the spirit of little-known founding father Arthur Middleton (voiced by Richard Burton). “Artie”–as he is dubbed by the kids much to his dismay–tries to teach the trio about the historical significance of the Revolutionary War and the very importance of the upcoming Bicentennial, but the gang instead decides to enter the car in one demolotion derby after another to help raise money for their hippy band, “The Daisy Chain.” Much of the show’s humor derived from “Artie” slowly losing not only his posh accent but also his motor skills, cognitive abilities and eventually his very sense of self due to the horrible collisions he endured on the derby circuit on a daily basis. By series’ end the immobile “Artie” could only form bubbles from his grille and demand pancakes at an ever-increasing volume, forcing the kids to abandon him for a sentient skateboard voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly.

Las marionetas de Marty Krofft. 1962

 

 

 

Television productions

After designing the characters and sets for Hanna-Barbera's Banana Splits series, the Kroffts' producing career began in 1969 with the landmark children's television series H.R. Pufnstuf. The series introduced the team's trademark style of large scale, colorful design, puppetry, and special effects. Featuring a boy who has been lured into an alternate fantasy world and can never escape, the team also established a storytelling formula they would often return to.

Some people suggested that the Krofft brothers were influenced by marijuana and LSD, although they have always denied these claims. In a 2005 interview with USA Today, Marty Krofft said, "No drugs involved. You can't do drugs when you're making shows. Maybe after, but not during. We're bizarre, that's all."[2] Referring to the alleged LSD use, Marty said in another interview, "That was our look, those were the colors, everything we did had vivid colors, but there was no acid involved. That scared me. I'm no goody two-shoes, but you can't create this stuff stoned."

The Kroffts also favored quirky superhero stories, often with children involved as the heroes or part of a hero team. Particularly visionary and popular Krofft productions have included The Bugaloos (1970), Lidsville (1971), Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973), Land of the Lost (1974), The Lost Saucer (1975), Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976), and Wonderbug (1976).

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft[edit]

Main article: The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
In 1976, a developer asked the Kroffts to develop an amusement park for the new Omni International complex in downtown Atlanta. The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was the world's first indoor amusement park, but due to poor attendance it was closed after just six months. The Omni International building that contained the amusement park was renamed the CNN Center when the site was converted to the present CNN headquarters.[4]

Achievements[edit]

The Kroffts' memorable children's programs have developed a wide and enduring following, largely among adults who watched the shows as children. They were also responsible for a large number of prime time music/variety programs. These shows also tended to employ a reliable formula, in this case featuring a celebrity host or team of hosts, weekly celebrity guest performers, flashy and colorful sets, and frequent interludes of scripted banter and gag-driven, "corny," good-natured sketch comedy.[4]

The Kroffts have occasionally departed from their successful formula, notably a new version of Family Affair (2002), and the political puppet satire D.C. Follies (1987). The team has recently attempted to update some of their most popular series for a younger generation, including new versions of Land of the Lost, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and H.R. Pufnstuf.[4]

The Kroffts are often acknowledged for the ambitious vision and creativity of their projects. In addition to their recognizably colorful and hyper-kinetic programs, they often created children's shows with complex stories, unusual protagonists, uniquely modern sensibilities, or with darker or more action-themed tones than most children's shows.[4] Their "camp" popularity stems largely from their shows' low-budget production values, the often surrealistic feel of many of the programs, and the uniquely "'70s" style of music and design.[4]

List of projects 1957-2009[edit]

TV series[edit]
Family Affair (2002)
Land of the Lost (1991)
D.C. Follies (1987)
Pryor's Place (1984)
Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (1980)
Pink Lady and Jeff (1980)
The Krofft Superstar Hour (1978; aka The Bay City Rollers Show)
Horror Hotel
The Lost Island
The Brady Bunch Hour (1977)
The Krofft Supershow (1976)
Dr. Shrinker (1976)
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976)
Kaptain Kool and the Kongs (1976)
Wonderbug (1976)
Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977)
Magic Mongo (1977)
Donny & Marie (1976; aka The Osmond Family Show)
The Lost Saucer (1975)
Far Out Space Nuts (1975)
Land of the Lost (1974)
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973)
Lidsville (1971)
The Bugaloos (1970)
H.R. Pufnstuf (1969)
The Banana Splits (1968) - Created the costumes for the stars, but did not produce the show
The Dean Martin Show (1965) - The Krofft puppets had a brief, semi-regular stint on the show.
TV specials/pilots[edit]
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (2001, unaired pilot)
Krofft Late Night (1991)
Sid & Marty Krofft's Red Eye Express (1988)
The Patti LaBelle Show (1985)
Rock 'n' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular (1985)
The Cracker Brothers (1985)
Saturday's the Place (1984)
Anson & Lorrie (1981)
Bobby Vinton's Rock 'n' Rollers (1978)
The Krofft Komedy Hour (1978)
The Bay City Rollers Meet the Saturday Superstars (1978)
Kaptain Kool and the Kongs Present ABC All-Star Saturday (1977)
The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976)
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) - Did not produce, but includes Witchiepoo & other Krofft regulars
Jimmy Osmond Presents ABC's Saturday Sneak Peek (1976)
Really Raquel (1974)
The World of Sid & Marty Krofft at the Hollywood Bowl (1973)
Fol-de-Rol (1972)
Here's Irving (1957, unaired pilot)
Films[edit]
Land of the Lost (2009)
Side Show (1981)
Middle Age Crazy (1980)
Pufnstuf (1970)
Live shows[edit]
Comedy Kings (1988)
A Broadway Baby (1984)
Fol-de-Rol (1968)
Kaleidescope (1968)
Circus (1966)
Funny World (1966)
Les Poupées de Paris (1961)
References[edit]

Jump up ^ [1] Los Angeles Times, "Sid and Marty Krofft are still pulling the strings"
Jump up ^ "'The World of Sid and Marty Krofft': Marty Krofft". USA Today. January 21, 2005.
Jump up ^ The Krofft Oeuvre
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Martindale, David (1998). Pufnstuf & Other Stuff: The Weird and Wonderful World of Sid amd Marty Krofft. Los Angeles, California: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1-58063-007-3.
External links[edit]

Sid and Marty Krofft on Myspace
Sid Krofft at the Internet Movie Database
Marty Krofft at the Internet Movie Database
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft
Rhino Entertainment - Krofft productions
Krofft.net - The Krofft Fan Network
Interviews[edit]
Google Video - Archive of American television interview (Parts 1-7) (July 27, 2000) (Flash)
USA Today: 'The World of Sid and Marty Krofft' - Transcript of Reader Questions & Answers to Marty Krofft (January 21, 2005)
Tavis Smiley interview (transcript and RealPlayer audio) (May 25, 2005)
Marty Krofft Interview at SuicideGirls (May 23, 2006)
Marty Krofft on the Time Travel Radio Show (November 17, 2006)
Dave Itzkoff, "Mr. Pufnstuf, Your Table Is Ready" at New York Times (December 3, 2006)
Marty Krofft Interview on public radio program The Sound of Young America (May 22, 2007)
[hide] v t e
Sid and Marty Krofft
Television shows
H.R. Pufnstuf (1969) The Bugaloos (1970) Lidsville (1971) Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973) Land of the Lost (1974) Far Out Space Nuts (1975) The Lost Saucer (1975) Donny & Marie (1976) The Krofft Supershow (1976) The Brady Bunch Hour (1977) The Krofft Superstar Hour (1978) Pink Lady and Jeff (1980) Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (1980) Pryor's Place (1984) D.C. Follies (1987) Land of the Lost (1991) Family Affair (2002)
Krofft Supershow Segments
Dr. Shrinker (1976) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976) Kaptain Kool and the Kongs (1976) Wonderbug (1976) Magic Mongo (1977) Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977)
Krofft Puppets appeared in
The Dean Martin Show (1965) The Banana Splits (1968) The Great Space Coaster (1981)
Pilots and TV specials
Here's Irving (1957) Fol-de-Rol (1972) The World of Sid & Marty Krofft at the Hollywood Bowl (1973) Really Raquel (1974) Jimmy Osmond Presents ABC's Saturday Sneak Peek (1976) The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976) Kaptain Kool and the Kongs Present ABC All-Star Saturday (1977) The Bay City Rollers Meet the Saturday Superstars (1978) The Krofft Komedy Hour (1978) Bobby Vinton's Rock 'n' Rollers (1978) Anson & Lorrie (1981) Saturday's the Place (1984) The Cracker Brothers (1985) Rock 'n' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular (1985) The Patti LaBelle Show (1985) Sid & Marty Krofft's Red Eye Express (1988) Krofft Late Night (1991) Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (2001)
Films
Pufnstuf (1970) Harry Tracy, Desperado (1980) Middle Age Crazy (1980) Side Show (1981) Land of the Lost (2009)
Live shows
Howdy, Mr. Ice of 1950 (1949) Les Poupées de Paris (1961) Circus (1966) Funny World (1966) Kaleidescope (1968) Fol-de-Rol (1968) Comedy Kings (1988)
Other
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft Theme Park Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions Inc. v. McDonald's Corp.