Canadian siblings Sid & Marty Krofft are truly master puppeteers. Born in Quebec, Canada, they spent many years honing their craft before their television career began in earnest.
In the 1940s, Sid created his one-man puppet show, The Unusual Artistry of Sid Krofft, and performed it all over the world, with his father. 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 the late 50s, they developed Les Poupées de Paris, a puppet show for more mature audiences.
In the late 60s, they designed the characters and sets for Hanna-Barbera’s The Banana Splits on NBC. The Kroffts’ producing career began in 1969 with the children’s television series H.R. Pufnstuf, featuring a boy who was lured into an alternate fantasy world and can’t escape. The series introduced the team’s trademark style of large scale, colorful design, puppetry, and special effects. The team also established a storytelling formula that they would return often.
Some people have suggested that the Krofft brothers were influenced by drugs, although they have always denied these claims. 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.” 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.”
Other popular Krofft productions in the 70s included The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost, The Lost Saucer , Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and Wonderbug.
They also attempted to branch into the amusement park market, but their sole attempt in Atlanta shut down after 6 months due to poor attendance.
The Kroffts are often acknowledged for the ambitious vision and creativity of their projects. In addition to their extremely colorful programs, their children’s shows often had complex stories, unusual protagonists, and darker or more action-themed tones than most children’s shows.
Their children’s programs have developed an enduring following, largely among adults who watched the shows as children. They were also responsible for a large number of prime-time music and variety programs. These shows also tended to utilize a reliable formula, typically featuring a celebrity host or team of hosts, weekly celebrity guest performers, and flashy, colorful sets.
The Krofft Brothers have continued to create and produce programming since the 70s, and on through the years, as recently as 2017-2019 with Nickelodeon’s Mutt & Stuff.
In 2018, they were honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys for their numerous television contributions. In 2020, they were finally and deservedly awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
I was such a huge fan of their 70s shows, especially The Banana Splits and H.R. Pufnstuf. Their whimsy appealed to me, and the shows, while slightly bizarre, have held up well. They are truly a testament to my childhood.
Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]