The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 1.  

The Lost World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, Part 2.

If you were a kid in the 70s, as Mowrer and I were, you saw the names Sid and Marty Krofft a lot.  Their shows were all over saturday morning AND syndication, all featuring their unique style of live-action, elaborate puppetry, and extensive video effects.  Their bio reveals a refreshingly old-school blend of talent and hucksterism that has kept them active and relevant to this day, even if their shared star has faded a bit.

Marty Krofft, Horatio J. Hoodoo, Witchie-Poo, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sid Krofft

Marty Krofft, Horatio J. Hoodoo, Witchie-Poo, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sid Krofft

Sid Krofft was born Cydus Yolas in 1929 in Athens, Greece.  Marty Krofft was born Moshopopoulos Yolas in 1937, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.   For decades, it was claimed that they came from several generations of puppeteers.  But in 2008, Sid finally revealed in an LA Times interview that the “generations of puppeteers” story was invented back in the 40s; their father, Peter, was actually a clock salesman, who moved the family from Canada to Rhode Island, then to New York, seeking opportunities.  Again, that old-school hucksterism.

Sid displayed a talent for puppetry at a young age, leading to a job with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he was billed as “The World’s Youngest Puppeteer.”  Sid was so successful that he was able to take his act on the road, billed as “The Unusual Artistry Of Sid Krofft.”  With dad Peter as “an apprentice” (leading to the “generations of puppeteers” story), Sid opened for big-name acts like Judy Garland and Liberace.

Marty Krofft backstage with "Les Poupees de Paris" at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

Marty Krofft backstage with “Les Poupees de Paris” at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Back home in New York, Marty was teaching himself puppetry with Sid’s hand-me-downs, as well as gaining business experience putting on his own puppet shows.  By the late 50s they were working together as “The Krofft Brothers,” and looking to expand the possibilities of puppetry.  They soon developed a new, more adult-oriented show, “Les Poupées de Paris.”  Inspired by Paris cabarets, the show featured musical performances, celebrities, comedy, and topless dancers – all portrayed by puppets.  Originating in Los Angeles, the show toured the United States throughout the 60s, including performances at the Seattle World’s Fair and in New York City.

Reverend Billy Graham denounced the show, noting that “the women don’t wear bras,” but failing to mention that “the women” were puppets.  Johnny Carson remarked that it was the only show he had seen performed by “naughty pine.”  A soundtrack album, released in 1965, was nominated for a Grammy but lost to The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits.

The success of Les Poupées de Paris led to more demand for the unique puppetry of The Krofft Brothers.  Creating a puppet- and set-building workshop to rival the later success of Jim Henson, the Kroffts created puppets for The Dean Martin Show (though they were fired after 8 episodes, when Martin felt he was being upstaged), various Six Flags parks, and, most notably, the characters for Hanna-Barbera’s The Banana Splits.

This was their first major gig in children’s television, but far from their last…

Come back Tuesday for the good stuff.  In the meantime, here’s some of the research that went into this post:

The 2008 LA Times interview: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/26/entertainment/et-kroffts26

Wikipedia page for Sid and Marty Krofft: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sid_and_Marty_Krofft

Wikipedia page for Les Poupées de Paris: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Poup%C3%A9es_de_Paris

Bio page from the official Sid & Marty Krofft websitehttp://www.sidandmartykrofft.com/about/history/