Sid and Marty Krofft are a sibling team of television producers who were influential in children’s television and variety show programs, 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.
The Krofft brothers, Sid (b. July 30, 1929) and Marty (b. April 9, 1937), 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, R.I., and then to New York City. 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.
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.” 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 shit 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
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 to the CNN Center when the site was converted to the present CNN headquarters.
The Kroffts’ achievements
he Kroffts’ memorable children’s programs have developed a wide and enduring following, largely among adults who watched the shows as children. Krofft productions are also included prominently in an entertainment category known as camp.
The Kroffts 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.
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.
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.
The Kroffts’ “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.
List of Projects 1957-2009
* 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)
o Horror Hotel
o The Lost Island
* The Brady Bunch Hour (1977)
* The Krofft Supershow (1976)
o Dr. Shrinker (1976)
o Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976)
o Kaptain Kool and the Kongs (1976)
o Wonderbug (1976)
o Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977)
o 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 Adventure Hour (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.
* 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)
* Land of the Lost (2009)
* Side Show (1981)
* Middle Age Crazy (1980)
* Pufnstuf (1970)
* Comedy Kings (1988)
* A Broadway Baby (1984)
* Fol-de-Rol (1968)
* Kaleidescope (1968)
* Circus (1966)
* Funny World (1966)
* Les Poupées de Paris (1961)
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