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Marty Krofft, Creator of ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’ and Other Iconic Kids Shows, Dies at 86

Marty Krofft, Creator of ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’ and Other Iconic Kids Shows, Dies at 86

Marty Krofft, the creative force behind beloved TV classics like Land of the Lost, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Donny and Marie, has died. He was 86. A pioneer in children’s television and primetime programming, Krofft passed away at his residence in Los Angeles on Saturday. Surrounded by loved ones, he succumbed to kidney failure.

Krofft, often hailed as the “King of Saturday Mornings,” achieved widespread recognition in the 1970s when he collaborated with his elder brother, Sid, to establish Sid & Marty Pictures.

Sid and Marty Krofft, already renowned theatrical puppeteers, were approached in 1968 to create costumes for the live-action segment of NBC’s The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Their four lovable animal characters (Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky), who formed a rock band, became an instant sensation on the Saturday morning show. The show aired from September 7, 1968, to September 5, 1970, and has since been in perpetual reruns.

In the following year, NBC approached them to develop their own Saturday morning children’s show. The brothers then created H.R. Pufnstuf, a story about a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy (played by Jack Wild) who finds himself on a magical island. The main character, Pufnstuf, was an enhanced version of Luther, a friendly dragon initially designed for a 1968 HemisFair show in San Antonio.

Across a remarkable 50-year career, Krofft Productions became known for exceptional family entertainment. Their portfolio includes beloved shows like Pryor’s Place with Richard Pryor, the delightful sibling duo Donny and Marie Osmond in Donny and Marie, and the whimsical adventures of The Bugaloos and Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.

Marty Krofft Gets a Call From the President

In the late 1980s, the Kroffts created D.C. Follies, a syndicated series. Fred Willard played a bartender who warmly welcomed puppet caricatures of politicians into his bar.

The show showcased a group of life-size puppets impersonating a variety of political figures, from Richard Nixon to Arnold Schwarzenegger. President Ronald Reagan, with a light-hearted approach to elected officials, even took the time to personally call Krofft from the White House to express his appreciation for the humorous portrayal of himself.

Before building a television empire, Krofft served as the creative director for Six Flags. He produced captivating live shows in theme parks throughout America. In 1976, he unveiled the World of Sid & Marty Krofft amusement park in downtown Atlanta.

In 2018, Krofft, along with his brother Sid, was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Their remarkable contributions to the industry were recognized once again in 2020. The dynamic duo was bestowed with a star on the illustrious Hollywood Walk of Fame.