LOS ANGELES, December 7, 2000 — E! Entertainment Television will premiere “H.R. Pufnstuf and the Strange World of Sid and Marty Krofft: The E! True Hollywood Story” on Sunday, December 24 at 9:00 PM ET/PT. This one-hour installment reveals the behind-the-scenes drama on many of the Kroffts’ television shows of the 1970s and 80s and examines the often strained personal and professional relationship of brothers Sid and Marty Krofft. Interviews include the Krofft brothers, actors Billy Barty, Rip Taylor, Jack Wild and Billie Hayes.
The Krofft Brothers, best known for their children’s television program “H.R. Pufnstuf,” began collaborating in 1960 with a nude puppet show, “Les Poupee des Paris,” performing it in their own small Los Angeles theatre and later at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. In 1969 the Krofft brothers created and produced their first television program, “H.R. Pufnstuf,” a psychedelic and fantastical children’s show that found a cult following with an acid-dropping counter-culture. The program proved to be popular with viewers, but nonetheless put them a million dollars in the red. They followed up “H. R. Pufnstuf” with “The Bugaloos,” “Lidsville,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost,” “Far Out Space Nuts,” and other popular Saturday morning kids’ programming as well “The Donny and Marie Variety Show,” “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” and “D.C. Follies.”
In addition to television, the Kroffts ventured unsuccessfully into the theme-park market with the opening of the Atlanta-based “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft.” After the amusement park debacle, the Kroffts put their full efforts into a slew of prime-time variety shows, but with mixed success. By the mid 1980s, viewers had tired of the variety show format and Sid and Marty expanded into different projects that included a return to television puppetry.
Quotes from the program:
Marty Krofft on the death of his father and its influence – “My father left us a note that said, ‘Dear boys, I had a good life. I love you all, but I’ve left you no money, and by doing this I’m doing you a favor. It’ll give you guys a chance to be self-made men.’”
Marty Krofft on H.R. Pufnstuf – “Little did I know that when I sold NBC Pufnstuf, that I’d lose a million dollars.”
Lennie Weinrib, actor/writer, on the title of the series – “We thought of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon,’ the song sung by Peter, Paul & Mary. And then we thought Puff and his different stuff. And H.R. was supposed to be Royal Highness turned around.”
Marty Krofft, when NBC ordered the first episodes of the series – “I sent my assistant to the bookstore to buy a book on how to produce a television series, because I didn’t know how to do it.”
Sid Krofft, on the money spent for the large-scaled production show – “I would not accept anyone to cut my ideas. I wanted everything.”
Hal Erickson, television historian, on the cult following – “You’d see a crazy witch. You’d see talking trees. You’d see talking mushrooms. And this just drove the people who were drugged out crazy!”
Lennie Weinrib on the drug connection – “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.”
Marty Krofft, on the failed attempt to create a successful fantasy theme park – “The park was the eighth wonder of the world. But we were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.”
The award-winning “E! True Hollywood Story” is a series of one- and two-hour docu-dramas chronicling the lives of some of entertainment’s most celebrated people, places and events. Utilizing E!’s unparalleled access to the entertainment industry, the program provides a true insider’s view of Hollywood, putting the star-making machine under a microscope with each new installment. “The E! True Hollywood Story” began life as a series of specials with the March 30,1996 premiere of “Dark Obsession: The Stalking and Murder of Rebecca Schaeffer” and quickly established itself as the network’s most successful programming franchise. It currently airs seven nights a week at 9:00 PM ET/PT.