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Marty Krofft dead: HR Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost creator dies

Marty Krofft, the TV creator behind the iconic children’s shows “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “H.R. Pufnstuf” and “Land of the Lost,” died from kidney failure on Saturday in Los Angeles, his representatives told the Associated Press. He was 86.

Dubbed the “King of Saturday Mornings,” Marty and his brother Sid were puppeteers-turned-producers whose kids shows, which prominently featured elaborate dolls and puppets, changed the children’s TV landscape. The two were also behind the classic series “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” and “D.C. Follies,” and primetime variety shows “Donny and Marie” and “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.”

Sid paid tribute to his brother in an Instagram post on Saturday night.

“I’m heartbroken over the loss of my baby brother,” he wrote. “I really know that all of you meant the world to him. It’s YOU that made this all happen. Thank you for being there with us all these years.”

The brothers (and the fantastical “H.R. Pufnstuf”) returned to TV in 2016 with the Nickelodeon show “Mutt & Stuff”; Marty was 78 at the time and Sid was 86.

“Marty is sharp and tuned in to what audiences want, and is, in a good way, aggressive and sticks to his guns,” Greg Siegel, a development executive at Legendary Digital Media, told The Times in 2016.

Born in Montreal on April 9, 1937, Marty is the youngest of four brothers, born to Russian parents.

Sid, left, and Marty Krofft stand next to H.R. Pufnstuf in 1998 during at an auction celebrating 50 years of the brothers’ creations.

(John Hayes / Associated Press)

Sid created a successful puppet show that toured the world during the 1940s, which led him to work in vaudeville. Marty, who used his brother’s old puppets to follow suit in New York, eventually joined Sid in Hollywood in the 1950s. In 1961, they premiered “Les Poupees de Paris,” an adult-themed puppet show, at a dinner club in Los Angeles. Mae West, Richard Nixon and Liberace were in the audience on opening night. Their expertise brought them to TV, where they became two of the biggest producers for decades.

Marty was known as the business brain of Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, making sure that the shows were inventive and on budget.

“We couldn’t really afford to do a lot of what we wanted in the beginning. We had to paint the backgrounds and the floors on the shows, for crying out loud,” Krofft told the Times.

When the movie adaptation of “Land of the Lost” was produced, Marty called it “The Krofft era,” touting their stockpile of intellectual property as “the next Marvel Comics” to the Times in 2008. In the same article, the Kroffts admitted that much of their family history as reported was the fictional product of a publicist in the 1940s.

The Krofft brothers’ reputation for creating shows with heart led contemporary names like Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes to collaborate with them on remakes of “Lidsville” and “H.R. Pufnstuf,” respectively. Those projects were never produced, but showed the respect many had for their creativity.

The brothers were known to fight often, as siblings do, but in recent years, the squabbling turned into a legal entanglement as Sid sued Marty over business dealings and profits.

The duo was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmys in 2018 and received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020.

In addition to Sid, Krofft is survived by another brother, Harry; three daughters, Deanna Krofft-Pope, Kristina Krofft and Kendra Krofft; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.


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