Co-creator of ‘H.R. Pufnstuf’ Passes Away at 86

Marty Krofft, the renowned TV producer celebrated for his imaginative children’s shows like “H.R. Pufnstuf” and successful prime-time hits such as “Donny & Marie” in the 1970s, has passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 86, according to his publicist Harlan Boll. Krofft succumbed to kidney failure on Saturday.

Alongside his brother Sid, Marty Krofft made a name for themselves as puppeteers who transitioned into television, eventually earning stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They brought a distinctive and imaginative approach to children’s TV, introducing prime-time audiences to sibling acts like Donny and Marie Osmond and Barbara Mandrell and her sisters.

The Osmonds’ family-friendly variety show, a cultural relic of the ’70s, became an enduring piece of entertainment history. The Kroffts continued their success with “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters,” a show focused on the country music star, running from 1980 to 1982.

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Despite its brief run of only 17 episodes, “H.R. Pufnstuf” demonstrated lasting pop culture significance. The surreal show, featuring an island, a witch, a talking flute, a shipwrecked boy, and a redheaded dragon in cowboy boots, ranked 27th in a 2007 TV Guide poll of all-time cult favorites.

After more than 45 years, the character of H.R. Pufnstuf made a return in an episode of the Krofft brothers’ later success, “Mutt & Stuff,” which aired for multiple seasons on Nickelodeon.

Reflecting on his career, Marty Krofft addressed persistent speculation around the show’s connection to the ’60s counterculture. He refuted claims of drug use, emphasizing that such rumors were unfounded, stating, “If we did the drugs everybody thought we did, we’d be dead today. You cannot work stoned.”

Born in Montreal on April 9, 1937, Marty Krofft entered the entertainment industry through puppetry. He and Sid initially gained attention with a risqué, cabaret-inspired puppet show called “Les Poupées de Paris” in 1960. Their success led to creating puppet shows for amusement parks, eventually opening their own venture, the short-lived World of Sid & Marty Krofft, in Atlanta in the 1970s.

The Kroffts left an enduring impact on television with a range of shows, including “Land of the Lost,” “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl,” “Pryor’s Place” with comedian Richard Pryor, and “D.C. Follies,” featuring satirical puppet commentary on politics and news.

In 2018, the Krofft brothers received a Daytime Emmy for lifetime achievement, followed by the unveiling of their Hollywood Walk of Fame star two years later.

Sid Krofft expressed his grief over his brother’s passing on Instagram, conveying that Marty’s fans meant the world to him.

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Marty Krofft, as revealed in a 2015 interview with The Associated Press, showed no interest in retiring from show business, stating, “What am I gonna do — retire and watch daytime television and be dead in a month?”

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