1969: What’s an H.R. Pufnstuf?
It was on this day in 1969 that Sid and Marty Krofft’s H.R. Pufnstuf came to Saturday morning TV. The main dragon character was originally named Luther and was created for Kaleidoscope, a live production featured at the HemisFair ’68 world’s fair. For the show, a young boy named Jimmy (Jack Wild known for playing Oliver Twist in the movie musical, Oliver! and his talking flute board a happy-looking boat promising to take them on an adventure. The boat was owned by Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) which was a trap to get the boy to come to Living Island. He is rescued by the mayor of the island, H.R. Pufnstuf (voiced by the show’s writer, Lennie Weinrib) and together they spent the next 16 episodes trying to get the boy off the island and back home. The cast also included former Mouseketeer Sharon Baird playing the roles of Stupid Bat, Judy Frog, Shirley Pufnstuf and Lady Boyd. The show’s theme song was written by Les Szarvas but is also credited to Paul Simon when he successfully sued the Krofft brothers for mimicking his song, “Feelin’ Groovy,” too closely. The next year, Universal Pictures produced a movie version of the show which also starred Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and Martha Raye as Boss Witch. H.R. Pufnstuf once appeared in an episode of C.H.I.P.S. and later on The George Lopez Show. Sony has had plans to remake the show once in 2000 and again in 2008, but nothing has come about those efforts.
1975: ‘The Lost Saucer’ Flies By for the First Time
Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, The Lost Saucer aired for the first time on this day in 1975. While not as popular as the Krofft’s previous shows, it had its charms namely Ruth Buzzi and Jim Neighbors playing androids Fi and Fum from the year 2369. The premise is that the pair visit Earth, invite young Jerry (Jarrod Johnson) and his babysitter Alice (Alice Playte) to check out their digs, but then they accidentally take off after being spotted by the neighbors. Along with their pet Dorse (half dog, half horse played by Larry Larsen), Fi and Fum try to make their way back to Earth to drop off the kids but continue ending up somewhere else, hence, the “lost” saucer. Each episode had a social or environmental message sewn into the story. The show featured 16 episodes (without an episode where the kids make it back home!). It was initially its own show through September 1976 before becoming part of the Krofft Supershow in 1978.
- 1944: Swoosie Kurtz (actress)
- 1947: Jane Curtin (actress)
- 1958: Jeff Foxworthy (comedian)
- 1962: Elizabeth Vargas (journalist)
- 1964: Rosie Perez (actress)
- 1965: Christopher Nolan (film director)
- 1967: Macy Gray (singer)
- 1972: Idris Elba (actor)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.