Wonderful Legacy of the Krofft Brothers

Sid and Marty KrofftWhen I was a kid, H R Pufnstuf was a big show. It seemed to be on all the time. But I did a little research last night and found out that only one season of the show was ever produced—just 17 episodes. But my perception that it was on all the time was right. Although NBC did not make any more episodes, they repeated the show for a total of three years. Then they showed it on Sundays for a year and then over a decade in syndication. So the show was extremely successful.

As a result of this spurt of interest, I sat down and watched the first episode. It holds up rather well. But what’s most notable about it is how revolutionary it was. It premiered in 1969 and I don’t think there had ever been anything like it. But the success of Sid and Marty Krofft greatly affected children’s television with their many later shows like Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and most especially Land of the Lost. And then, of course, there scores of people copying them.

Based upon the shows, I always thought that the Kroffts were a couple of hippies. Certainly the Mr Show parody of their work—Sam and Criminy Kraffft—went right along with that thought. So I don’t think I was alone in assuming that. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching it. It is a loving and very funny tribute:

But it turns out that the Kroffts were not hippies but rather members of that small group that brings joy and light everywhere they go: puppeteers. In fact, Sid Krofft started working vaudeville, circuses, and burlesque shows, and eventually had his own one-man show, “The Unusual Artistry of Sid Krofft.” Marty is eight years younger and joined with Sid when the older brother got a gig opening for Judy Garland in Las Vegas.

I doubt that the impact of Sid and Marty Krofft can be overstated. It seems that every decent children’s show that comes out draws a direct line back to them. And that often involves explicit allusions to their work. For example, check out this opening to Pee-wee’s Playhouse:

We don’t tend to appreciate the artistry of stuff that we enjoy as kids. It’s always fun to go back and check them out. It’s also a good reminder of just how boring adult life tends to be. And sadly, adult entertainment. It’s why The Muppet Show still works. You can’t go wrong appealing to kids.


Both the brothers are still alive and (I assume) well. Sid will turn 85 this July.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Wonderful Legacy of the Krofft Brothers

  1. I watched the first "Muppet Movie" recently. A lot of the humor is dated, but some it still holds up; especially, for me, the Paul Williams songs. I liked best the "acid rock" number "Can You Paint A Picture" which I remember being bored by as a kid, and "I Hope I’ll Go Back There Someday." (The Miss Piggy romantic song bored me then and bored me now.)

    The new ones miss Jim Henson. Whether or not they work hard to recreate everything else, they can’t recreate Henson’s work simply using his hand to express Kermit’s emotions. Kermit always seems on the verge of being exasperated by the other Muppets, yet in the end decides to be tolerant. It’s all in the way Henson manipulates how his lips move. It was a great character and Henson performed it brilliantly.

    Me and the SO have gotten a lot of fun watching old childhood faves. The Krofts, "Schoolhouse Rock," and one you may not be familiar with, Harry Nilsson/Ringo Starr’s "The Point." It has a very shaky plot and goes on too long, but I saw "Frozen" today and the plot was worse and it went on longer. Plus "Frozen" won awards for its truly junky songs, while the songs in "The Ponit" range from OK Nilsson to stone-awesome Nilsson. (And the message of the cartoon ain’t bad for kids.)

    Here’s "Life Line" from "The Point" — a pretty, sad song about depression, with a patented Nilsson high note at the end:


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