H.R. Pufnstuf

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H.R. Pufnstuf
Pufnstuf.jpg
FormatChildren's television series
StarringJack Wild
Billie Hayes
Sharon Baird
Joy Campbell
Van Snowden
Buddy Douglas
Voices ofLennie Weinrib
Joan Gerber
Walker Edmiston
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes17
Production
Producer(s)Sid and Marty Krofft
Running time0:25 (per episode)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runSeptember 6, 1969 – December 27, 1969
 
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H.R. Pufnstuf
Pufnstuf.jpg
FormatChildren's television series
StarringJack Wild
Billie Hayes
Sharon Baird
Joy Campbell
Van Snowden
Buddy Douglas
Voices ofLennie Weinrib
Joan Gerber
Walker Edmiston
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes17
Production
Producer(s)Sid and Marty Krofft
Running time0:25 (per episode)
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runSeptember 6, 1969 – December 27, 1969

H.R. Pufnstuf is a children's television series produced by Sid and Marty Krofft in the United States. It was the first Krofft live-action, life-size puppet program.[1] The seventeen episodes were originally broadcast from September 6, 1969 to December 27, 1969. The broadcasts were successful enough that NBC kept it on the Saturday morning schedule until August 1972. The show was shot in Paramount Studios and its opening was shot in Big Bear Lake, California. Reruns of the show aired on ABC Saturday morning from September 2, 1972 to September 8, 1973 and on Sunday mornings in some markets from September 16, 1973 to September 8, 1974. It was syndicated by itself from 1974 to 1978 and in a package with six other Kroft series under the banner Krofft Superstars from 1978 to 1985.

Reruns of the show began airing on Nov. 29, 2013 on Me-TV Network.

In 2004 and 2007, H.R. Pufnstuf was ranked #22 and #27 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.[2][3]

Origins[edit]

The H.R. Pufnstuf character was originally created for the HemisFair '68 world's fair in 1968, where the Kroffts produced a show called Kaleidescope for the Coca-Cola pavilion. The character's name was Luther and he became the symbol of the fair.[4]

Plot[edit]

H.R. Pufnstuf introduced the Kroffts' most-used plot scenario: their fairy tale of good versus evil.[1] The show centered on a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy (played by 16-year old Jack Wild). He is 11 years old when he arrives on the island and turns 12 in the episode called "The Birthday Party." Jimmy and his friend, a talking flute named Freddy, take a ride on a mysterious boat, which promised adventures across the sea, to kooky Living Island, home of dancing, talking trees and singing frogs. The Mayor of Living Island was a friendly and helpful dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf (voiced by the show's writer Lennie Weinrib, who also voices many of the other characters). The boat was actually owned and controlled by a wicked witch named Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (played by Billie Hayes) who rode on a broomstick-like vehicle called the Vroom Broom. She used the boat to lure Jimmy and Freddy to her castle on Living Island, where she was going to take Jimmy prisoner and steal Freddy. But Pufnstuf found out about her plot and was able to rescue Jimmy when he leaped out of the enchanted boat with Freddy and swam ashore.

Jimmy was taken in by Pufnstuf, who was able to protect him from Witchiepoo, as the cave where he lived was the only place her magic had no effect. Apart from Jimmy and Witchiepoo, all of the characters on Living Island were realized via large cumbersome costumes or puppetry. Since everything on Living Island was alive (namely houses, castles, boats, clocks, candles, books, trees, mushrooms, etc.), virtually any part of the Living Island sets could become a character, usually voiced in a parody of a famous film star, such as Mae West, Edward G. Robinson or most notably John Wayne as "The West Wind." A frequent plot device involves Witchiepoo and her henchmen Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider, and Stupid Bat trying to steal Freddy only to be thwarted by Pufnstuf. Another concerns Jimmy and Freddy's efforts to return home from Living Island with the same lack of success.

Characters[edit]

Main characters[edit]

Other characters[edit]

Production[edit]

After creating costumes for characters in the live-action portion of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, Sid and Marty Krofft were asked to develop their own Saturday morning children's series for NBC. The plot was recycled from Kaleidescope, a live puppet show the Kroffts had staged in the Coca-Cola pavilion of the HemisFair '68 world's fair in 1968, including several key characters from this show, such as Luther the dragon and a silly witch.[5] Other ideas were cultivated from Sid's life. As a child, he'd charged friends buttons, not pennies, to view puppet shows in his back yard;[5] buttons were standard currency on Living Island. Sid and Marty had toured with their puppets as the opening act for Judy Garland, and they based Judy the Frog on her.[5] Ludicrous Lion bears more than a passing resemblance to Irving, the eponymous lion in a pilot they had made in 1957 called Here's Irving.

Sid's friend, Lionel Bart, asked him to view a rough cut of the movie adaptation of Oliver. Sid took notice of young actor Jack Wild and immediately decided that was the kid he wanted to play the lead in his television series.[6] Only two actresses auditioned to play Witchiepoo. The first was then unknown Penny Marshall,[6] but it was felt that she was not right for the part. Stage veteran Billie Hayes came in next, set into a maniacal cackle and hopped up on a desk. She was given the part on the spot.[5]

For Marty Krofft, the production was a particular headache. Marty accepted guardianship of Jack Wild while the teenage boy was in the United States filming the show.[5] He later described bringing Wild into his home as a mistake.[5]

Like most children's television shows of the era, H.R. Pufnstuf contained a laugh track, the inclusion of which the Kroffts were initially against. Sid Krofft commented "We were sort of against that, but Si Rose—being in sitcoms—he felt that when the show was put together that the children would not know when to laugh." Marty Krofft added "the bottom line—it's sad—you gotta tell them when it's funny. And the laugh track, [Si] was right. It was necessary, as much as we were always looking to have a real laugh track, a real audience. In comedies, if you don't have them [laugh track], you're in big trouble, because if you don't hear a laugh track, it's not funny. And that's the way the audience [at home] was programmed to view these shows."[7]

Witchiepoo later appeared in the Lidsville episode "Have I Got a Girl For Hoo Doo" where she was lands a date with Horatio J. Hoodoo. H.R. Pufnstuf appeared in a segment of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. The Krofft Superstar Hour also involved characters in two segments The Lost Island (which H.R. Pufnstuf was in) and Horror Hotel (which Witchiepoo, Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider, and Stupid Bat are featured with Hoodoo).

Theme song[edit]

The show’s theme song, titled "H.R. Pufnstuf," was written by Les Szarvas but is also credited to Paul Simon. Simon's credit was added when he successfully sued The Kroffts, claiming that the theme too closely mimicked his song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."[8] He is credited as the song's co-writer in TeeVee Tunes's Television's Greatest Hits Volume 5: In Living Color.[9]

A cover of the show’s theme song, performed by The Murmurs, is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.

Episode list[edit]

TitlePlotAirdate
1"The Magic Path "Jimmy and H.R. Pufnstuf infiltrate Witchiepoo's castle to rescue Judy Frog so that they can get directions to the Magic Path.September 6, 1969
2"The Wheely Bird"Jimmy and H.R. Pufnstuf use a bird-shaped "Trojan Horse" as a ruse to enter Witchipoo's castle and recover Freddy from Witchiepoo.September 13, 1969
3"Show Biz Witch"When shyster Ludicrous Lion convinces Jimmy that he has a super-duper pogo stick for sale that could bounce him home, H.R. Pufnstuf and Jimmy conduct a talent show to raise the money.September 20, 1969
4"The Mechanical Boy"Witchiepoo puts a spell on Jimmy that turns him into a mechanical boy and commands him to acquire Freddy for her.September 27, 1969
5"The Stand In"When H.R. Pufnstuf’s sister Shirley comes to Living Island to make a movie, Jimmy and Freddie get parts in it. Together, they hatch a plot to get Witchiepoo into the movie so that Jimmy can steal her Vroom Broom to escape.October 4, 1969
6"The Golden Key"When Jimmy buys a map to the location of the Golden Key which unlocks the Golden Door (a secret way off of Living Island), Witchiepoo captures H.R. Pufnstuf and imprisons him in her dungeon diverting Jimmy from his escape.October 11, 1969
7"The Birthday Party"Witchiepoo invites herself to Jimmy's surprise birthday party and steals Freddy by rendering the partygoers helpless with laughing gas.October 18, 1969
8"The Box Kite Kaper"Jimmy and Freddy attempt to fly from Living Island in a giant box kite during a kite-flying contest.October 25, 1969
9"You Can't Have Your Cake"Witchiepoo hides in a cake to steal Freddy.November 1, 1969
10"The Horse with the Golden Throat "The Polka-Dotted Horse accidentally swallows Freddy causing a big catastrophe with Dr. Blinky, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Jimmy.November 8, 1969
11"Dinner for Two"Jimmy and Freddy both age 70 years when the Clock Family's time machine malfunctions. Witchiepoo mistakes Jimmy for an old man and falls in love with him.November 15, 1969
12"Flute, Book and Candle"Freddy gets turned into a mushroom by the touch of Witchiepoo's evil mushrooms.November 22, 1969
13"Tooth for a Tooth"Disguised as a little girl, Witchiepoo visits Dr. Blinky about a bad tooth. But she breaks into fits of rage when the pain becomes too much forcing the doctor to calm her down via love potion.November 29, 1969
14"The Visiting Witch"Witchiepoo receives a message from headquarters that the Boss Witch is coming to Living Island for an inspection. In a plot to impress the Boss Witch, she ends up kidnapping H.R. Pufnstuf.December 6, 1969
15"The Almost Election of Witchiepoo"Witchiepoo runs for Mayor of Living Island challenging H.R. Pufnstuf.December 13, 1969
16"Whaddya Mean the Horse Gets the Girl?"H.R. Pufnstuf's sister Shirley stars in a movie to raise money for Living Island's anti-witch fund.December 20, 1969
17"'Jimmy Who?"Jimmy gets amnesia that Dr. Blinky and Witchiepoo take turns trying to cure with flashbacks.December 27, 1969

Cast[edit]

Krofft puppets[edit]

[10]

PerformerCharacter(s)Voice(s)
Sharon BairdStupid BatLennie Weinrib
Judy FrogJoan Gerber
Shirley Pufnstuf
Lady BoydEnd credits vocals
Joy CampbellOrson VultureLennie Weinrib
ClingNo voice
Roberto GamonetH.R. PufnstufLennie Weinrib
Angelo RossittoSeymour SpiderWalker Edmiston
ClangNo voice
John SilverDr. BlinkyWalker Edmiston
Ludicrous Lion
Jerry Landon
?
Jon Linton
Scutter McKay
Harry Monty
Andy RatoucheffAlarm ClockLennie Weinrib
Robin Roper
?
Felix SillaPolka-Dotted HorseLennie Weinrib

Voice characterizations[edit]

Film[edit]

While the television series was still in production, the Kroffts were approached to do a film adaptation.[11] A joint venture between Universal Pictures and the show's sponsor Kellogg's Cereal,[12] the film retained most of the cast and crew from the series and featured guest appearances by Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and Martha Raye as the Boss Witch. The movie was finally released on VHS in 2001 by Universal Home Video as part of their Universal Treasures Collection, and on DVD on May 19, 2009.[13] The film also included Googy Gopher, Orville Pelican, and Boss Witch's chauffeur Heinrich Rat who were exclusive to the movie. A main difference in the film is that the characters that were voiced by Lennie Weinrib were each voiced by Allan Melvin and Don Messick.

The Kroffts have long had plans for a new H.R. Pufnstuf film. Sony first attempted a remake in 2000, but dropped the project.[14] In September, 2008, it was revealed that a live-action feature film is again being developed at Sony.[15]

Tours[edit]

A number of USA stage show tours were run starring the same characters from the show. The most prominent of these was "H.R. Pufnstuf & The Brady Kids Live at the Hollywood Bowl", which was performed and recorded in 1973. This performance was released on VHS in 1997.

DVD releases[edit]

In 2004, Rhino Entertainment released H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series, featuring all 17 episodes on three discs, accompanied by interviews with Sid & Marty Krofft, Billie Hayes, and Jack Wild. The Complete Series has gone out of print, but individual (best-of) releases continue to be sold. Pufnstuf, a major motion picture released in 1970, was also released on May 19, 2009, by Universal Studios. SMK and Vivendi Entertainment has obtained the home video rights to the series and released the complete series on Jan. 11, 2011. Two versions of the release exist; one is a traditional complete series set, while the other is a collector's set, featuring a bobble-head of H.R. Pufnstuf.

H.R. Pufnstuf / McDonaldland lawsuit[edit]

H. R. Pufnstuf at Knott's Berry Farm, 1970s

The show was the subject of a successful lawsuit brought by the Kroffts against the fast food restaurant McDonald's, whose McDonaldland characters were found to have infringed the show's copyright. The case, Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 562 F.2d 1157, was decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977.[16]

Claims of drug references[edit]

The Krofft brothers have responded in several interviews to popular beliefs that subtle recreational drug references exist in the show.[17][18][19] For example, the title character's name "Pufnstuf" has been interpreted as a reference to smoking hand-rolled (H.R.) marijuana (puffin' stuff)[17][18][19][20][21][22] — Marty Krofft has said the initials "H.R." actually stand for "Royal Highness" backwards[21][22] The show's theme song lyric "he can't do a little, 'cause he can't do enough" has been read as referring to the addictive nature of drugs. Pufnstuf has quotes like "Whoa dude!" and other "hippie" slang words. Lennie Weinrib, the show's head writer and the voice of Pufnstuf, has said, "I think fans gave it a kind of mysterious code-like meaning, like ‘Ah, was Pufnstuf puffing stuff? Like grass?’ Was it psychedelic? Was it drug oriented? Not to us, it wasn’t."[23][24] In a 2000 interview, Marty Krofft answered the question by saying, "The Krofft look has a lot of color, but there were no drug connotations in the show." He addressed the topic at length in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2004, in response to the question, "OK, let's get this right out in the open. Is H.R. Pufnstuf just one giant drug reference?":

We've heard that for 35 years. We did not intentionally do anything related to drugs in the story. People thought we were on drugs. You can't do good television while on drugs. People never believe you when you say that, but you can't. The shows were very bright and spacey looking. They may have lent themselves to that culture at the time, but we didn't ascribe that meaning to them, and I can't speak to what adults were doing when they were watching the shows. We just set out to make a quality children's program.

—Marty Krofft[21]

Authors of books on the show and its contemporaries, however, have not always accepted the Kroffts' alternative explanations for apparent references to drugs. David Martindale, author of Pufnstuf & Other Stuff, maintains that the Kroffts' need to attract an audience that are now parents of impressionable children forces them at least to downplay the double entendres: "But to deny it, the shows lose some of their mystique. The Kroffts prefer to remain playfully vague."[17] Martindale said in another interview that he fully believes Marty Krofft's insistence that he did not use drugs, especially given that Marty's focus was that of a businessman, but Martindale describes Sid Krofft as "a big kid" and "a hippy," saying, "His comment when I told him we were going to do this book was — and I quote — 'Oh, far out.' He says these shows didn't come from smoking just a little pot, and you could say, 'Oh, yeah. It comes from smoking a lot of pot.' But I think he was very deliberately doing double meanings so the show could amuse people on different levels."[25] Kevin Burke, co-author of Saturday Morning Fever: Growing Up with Cartoon Culture, argues that the "consistency of thought" in the rumors of drug references has a basis, although his co-author and brother Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore College, insists "human beings are capable of achieving hallucinatory heights without chemical assistance."[17] Contradicting his own position, Marty Krofft has neither admitted nor hinted in occasional interviews that the references were made knowingly; in one case, a writer reported that when pressed as to the connotation of "lids" in the title Lidsville, "Well, maybe we just had a good sense of humor," Krofft said, laughing.[22] His comments to another interviewer were more direct; in a Times Union profile whose author observed, "Watching the shows today, it's hard to imagine a show with more wink-and-nod allusions to pot culture, short of something featuring characters named Spliffy and Bong-O," Krofft conceded that the show's title had been an intentional marijuana reference, as had Lidsville, but "that was just a prank to see if they could get them past clueless NBC executives".[26]

Parodies and tributes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b CD liner notes: Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, 1995 MCA Records
  2. ^ TV Guide's 25 Top Cult Shows - TannerWorld Junction TannerWorld Junction: May 26, 2004
  3. ^ TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever - Today's News: Our Take TV Guide: June 29, 2007
  4. ^ "New video boxed-set "The World of Sid and Marty Krofft"". Liveworld.com. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Sid Krofft and Marty Interview Part 1 of 5 at YouTube. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  6. ^ a b E! True Hollywood Story: The Weird World of Sid and Marty Krofft
  7. ^ "Sid & Marty Krofft - Archive Interview". Youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  8. ^ http://www.kiddiematinee.com/p-pufnstuf.html
  9. ^ "Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 5: In Living Color: Information from". Answers.com. November 5, 1996. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  10. ^ Erickson, Hal. Sid and Marty Krofft: A Critical Study of Saturday Morning Children's Television, 1969-1993. McFarland, 2007. p. 17, 41
  11. ^ Sid & Marty Krofft Interview on YouTube. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  12. ^ Passing Show, The Bridgeport Post, January 22, 1970 p. 21
  13. ^ http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/detail.php?p=85894
  14. ^ Beck, Jerry (November 1, 2000). "Sony Pictures Family Entertainment drops theatrical plans". kidscreen.com. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  15. ^ But it is unknown when a release date for the film will be announced. Fleming, Michael (September 10, 2008). "Universal back for more Krofft". Variety. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  16. ^ Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions, Inc. v. McDonald's Corp. at CoolCopyright.com
  17. ^ a b c d Owen, Rob. "'H.R. Pufnstuf' leads TV Land's foray into 'retrovision'," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 1, 1999, p.D1.
  18. ^ a b Boas, Liz. "When giant puppets walked the Earth, Sid and Marty Krofft creations like `H.R. Pufnstuf ' once roamed wild on kids' TV – now they're invading again: A Sid and Marty Krofft Primer," Austin American-Statesman, December 12, 1996, XL Entertainment section, p. 38.
  19. ^ a b Clodfelter, Tim. "Revival: the fantastic worlds of Sid and Marty Krofft are back in vogue again," Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), August 17, 2000, p.E1.
  20. ^ Triplett, Ward. "Who's your friend?" (Etc. column), The Kansas City Star, February 2, 2004, p.D3.
  21. ^ a b c Finney, Daniel P. "Creators are clear: 'Pufnstuf' was definitely an acid trip," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 17, 2004, p.D3.
  22. ^ a b c Walker, Kevin. "Masters of puppets," The Tampa Tribune, June 18, 1999, Friday Extra! section, p.20.
  23. ^ "H.R. Pufnstuf: The Strange World of Sid & Marty Krofft". E! True Hollywood Story. E!. 2000. 
  24. ^ Warren, Ellen; Armour, Terry. "Steppenwolf book impresses Metcalf, who should know" (INC. column; includes news brief on the E! special), Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2000, p.2.
  25. ^ Silva, Elda. "Head back in time with David Martindale's 'Reruns' column," San Antonio Express-News, April 20, 1998, p.1C.
  26. ^ McGuire, Mark. "Hey kids, it's Wink and Nod: Sid and Marty Krofft (mostly) made the '60s counterculture safe for Saturday morning television," The Times Union (Albany, New York), February 13, 2004, p.D1.
  27. ^ Richard Leiby. "Wham! Right on the funny bone: the high low comedy of 'Mr. Show'," Washington Post, October 23, 1997, p.B1.
  28. ^ Video clip of "The Altered State of Druggachusetts" on YouTube
  29. ^ Nike Dunk Low Premium SB (Pufnstuf), Nike Skateboarding at skiptomyshoe.com
  30. ^ "H.R. Pufnstuf - CHiPs Wiki". Chips-tv.com. February 5, 2008. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 

External links[edit]