Marty Krofft, 'H.R. Pufnstuf' creator, dies

November 28, 2023

Marty Krofft, the children's TV producer behind imaginative 1970s shows like H.R. Pufnstuf, has died. He was 86. 

Together with his brother Sid, Krofft brought a subversive touch to children's TV with shows like H.R. Pufnstuf, a short-lived psychedelic romp about a shipwrecked boy on a magical island inhabited by fantastical creatures.

The eponymous H.R. Pufnstuf is a benevolent, googly-eyed dragon in go-go- boots who protects the lonely boy from an evil witch.

'Pufnstuf' creator dies

The show only ran for one season of 17 episodes, but it left a mark on popular culture.

The colorful, surrealistic imagery of the Kroffts' creations led to speculation that they used drugs to fuel their creativity.

"If we did the drugs everybody thought we did, we’d be dead today,” Krofft once said, adding, “You cannot work stoned.”

Krofft went on to earn the nickname "The King of Saturday Morning" with popular shows like The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Land of the Lost.

“We screwed with every kid’s mind,” Marty told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s a Krofft look — the colors. There’s an edge. Disney doesn’t have an edge.”

While mostly known for their outlandish puppet shows, the Kroffts also created more conventional variety shows like The Brady Bunch HourThe Donny & Marie Show, The Bay City Rollers Show and Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.

The brothers opened an indoor amusement park based on their work, The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, in Atlanta in 1976, but it flopped and closed after six months.

For promotional purposes, the brothers told a made-up story that they came from generations of puppeteers, but their father was a clock salesman from Greece.

Their journey into show business began when Sid, then working as a full-time puppeteer, lost his assistant in the 1950s.

The Montreal-born brothers had their first taste of success with Les Poupées de Paris, a live puppet act with mature themes.

Brother pays tribute

In a touching tribute to his little brother in the Los Angeles Times, Sid described their partnership as "the dreamer and the businessman."

"When I look back, I am so very grateful to Marty and everything he did for me back then. There was something really beautiful that happened when Marty and I worked together as a team. We made memories that will live on through our fans forever," Sid wrote. "I love you, Marty."

Marty Krofft married former Playboy model Christa Rogalski, who died in 2013.

He is survived by brothers Harry and Sid; daughters Deanna (and her husband, Randy), Kristina and Kendra (Lou); grandchildren Taylor, Karson, Griffin, Georgia and Drake; and great-grandchild Maddox.

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