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He performed his songs on several episodes of American Bandstand.
Upon hearing that Nickelodeon was looking to start their own line of animated shows dubbed “Nicktoons”, Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó and Paul Germain decided to create their own show inspired by the antics of Klasky and Csupó’s infant children. The result was Rugrats, a series which centered on a group of babies whose imaginations and limited understand of the world around them sent them on amazing adventures that the adults were blissfully unaware of.
|The babies: Tommy, Chuckie, Susie, Angelica, Dil, Phil and Lil with Spike the dog.|
The babies were comprised of 1-year-old Tommy Pickles (E.G. Daily, Tami Holbrook in the pilot), who was brave and adventurous with a strong sense of justice; his older best friend Chuckie Finster (Christine Cavanaugh until she retired, then Nancy Cartwright), a timid and clumsy boy full of cowardice and insecurities; and twins Phil and Lil DeVille (both Kath Soucie), who loved dirt, bugs and arguing with each other. Germain, feeling a bully was needed, added Tommy’s older cousin Angelica (Cheryl Chase) to the mix. She was a spoiled brat often stuck with the babies, although there were times she enjoyed their company and even defended them. The circle was expanded with the addition of sweet but competitive Susie Carmichael (Cree Summer) when her family moved in across the street. The adults, who only understood Angelica and Susie when they talked, were Tommy’s parents Stu (Jack Riley), an absent-minded toy inventor, and Didi (Melanie Chartoff), a part-time teacher who constantly took advice from child psychologist Dr. Lipschitz (Tony Jay); Angelica’s parents Drew (Michael Bell), an investment banker that spoiled her, and Charlotte (Tress MacNeille), a workaholic who was always yelling over her phone at her assistant, Jonathan (René Auberjonois & Dan Castellaneta); the DeVilles Betty (Soucie), a former wrestler and extreme feminist, and Howie (Phil Proctor), perpetually unemployed and constantly overpowered by his wife; Chuckie’s single father Chas (Bell), a bureaucrat who was Stu’s childhood friend; and the Carmichaels Lucy (Cheryl Carter, Lisa Dinkins in 1 episode), a Harvard-educated doctor, and Randy (Ron Glass), a screenwriter for the Dummi Bears cartoon (based on the Care Bears but named after Gummi Bears). Tommy’s grandfather, Lou (David Doyle until his death, then Joe Alaskey), also lived in the Pickles household and was the frequent babysitter—although he tended to fall asleep and left the babies to their own devices.
|Candy fight in the kinda Old West.|
Rugrats debuted on Nickelodeon on August 11, 1991 right after Doug, becoming the second Nicktoon. Episodes took up to a year to produce, going through several approval processes before entering recording and animation, The series was animated by Wang Film Productions, Shanghai Morning Sun Animation and Anivision, and the process was streamlined with the use of animatics to help convey the look of the series to the overseas animators; one of the first series to do so. The series’ theme was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who also composed the series’ music with Bob Mothersbaugh, Denis M. Hannigan and Rusty Andrews. After four seasons and 65 episodes, production on the series ceased and most of the writing staff, including Germain, left Klasky Csupó Productions due to constant tensions in regards to the content of the stories and the character of Angelica (whom Klasky hated).
Two Jewish-themed holiday specials were aired in 1995 and 1996. Between them and the constant reruns on the network, Rugrats gained a significant boost in popularity; enough to warrant production resuming on the show and the first theatrical feature. The Rugrats Movie released in 1998 and became a box office success, introducing Tommy’s new younger brother Dil (Tara Strong), who was integrated into the series. The sequel, Rugrats in Paris, gave Chas a new wife in Kira Watanabe (Julia Kato) and Chuckie a new stepsister in Kimi Watanabe (Dionne Quan), both of whom also transitioned to the series. The second sequel, Rugrats Go Wild, was a crossover with another Nickelodeon production, The Wild Thornberrys. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, a special episode set 10 years in the future was aired and became the basis for the only successful spinoff idea, All Grown Up! The series finally ended in 2004 after 9 seasons, becoming the third longest-running Nicktoon after SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly Oddparents. In 2021, a computer-animated revival debuted on streaming service Paramount+ with the original baby cast returning and all-new voices for the adults, although Howie and the Watanabes have been written out.
THE SMOKEY BEAR SHOW
While forest fires had always been a concern, World War II put a new emphasis on their severity. Many of those who would combat these fires, such as professional firefighters, were off fighting in the war. The United States Forest Service launched an ad campaign to educate Americans about the causes of fires in the hopes of preventing any from ever starting. But while they dealt with the domestic problem, an international one was brewing as the Japanese viewed wildfires as a weapon in their arsenal. In 1942, Japanese submarines surfaced near the coast of Santa Barbara, California, and fired shells into an exposed oil field near Los Padres National Forest. It was hoped that if Americans knew how wildfires would inhibit the war effort that they would work in cooperation with the Forest Service out of patriotism.
|Disney's Bambi and his friends promoting fire safety.|
The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) program was established. They created a series of public service campaigns that featured the character of Bambi, loaned to the Service by Walt Disney since a wildfire played a role in the film that debuted that year. However, as the term was only for a year and further licensing of the character was cost prohibitive, they decided they needed to come up with their own mascot. Ultimately, an anthropomorphic black bear was chosen and given the backstory of being rescued from a wildfire by Forest Rangers in New Mexico, who then raised him and whose ranks he joined. He was named “Smokey” after New York City firefighter “Smokey” Joe Martin, notable for battling the 1922 Greenwich Volcano fire.
On August 9, 1944 (considered his birthday), the creation of Smokey Bear was authorized by the Forest Service and the first posters in the campaign debuted that October, drawn by artist Albert Staehle. They depicted Smokey wearing jeans and a Ranger hat dousing a campfire with the slogan “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires!” In 1947, the Wartime Advertising Council (now the Ad Council) gave Smokey his well-known trademarked slogan: “Remember: only YOU can prevent forest fires.” The slogan endured for over five decades before it was altered to say “wildfires” in 2001 in response to outbreaks of fires in areas other than forests, and to clarify it was directed at unplanned fires and not controlled ones.
Smokey became a part of American popular culture, appearing on radio programs, comic strips, cartoons, books, music and merchandise. In 1950, life imitated art when a black bear cub was caught in a fire in New Mexico and rescued by Rangers. Originally named “Hotfoot” after his burned paws, he was rechristened “Smokey” and lived out his life in the National Zoo in Washington, DC as the living symbol of fire prevention until 1976. In 1952, the Smokey Bear Act was passed which took the character out of the public domain and put it under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Act would allow the use of royalties to finance the continued education of fire safety.
Between 1955 and 1961, Dell Comics published Smokey comics as part of their Four Color Comics anthology series. The comics featured Smokey among a cast of animals acting out tales of carelessness, such as chipmunks using matches they found to start a fire, and greed, such as rams chasing deer out of their feeding grounds. There was also more adult subject matter, such as Smokey getting involved in foiling a Communist plot or two photographers willing to let a coyote pounce on a family of whooper swans in order to get a valuable snapshot. It was these comics that would serve as the springboard for Smokey’s first foray into serial television.
Produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, The Smokey Bear Show followed the adventures of Smokey (Jackson Weaver, who voiced Smokey until his death in 1992) in the hillbilly town of Piney Woods. On top of trying to keep the peace between all the residents, he tried to keep them safe as well by making sure they followed proper safety procedures. He was assisted (often ineptly) by his deputy Rangers, Benny the rabbit (Paul Soles) and Gabby the mountain lion. Each episode was broken up into several story segments with one being dedicated to Smokey in his younger days as a budding Ranger, voiced by Billie Mae Richards.
The Smokey Bear Show debuted on ABC on September 6, 1969. The series was written by Shamus Culhane, Frank Freda, Hal Hackady, Fred Halliday, Romeo Muller and William J. Keenan, with Keenan serving as the story editor. The series’ music was composed by Maury Laws and producer Jules Bass. Animation duties were outsourced to Toei Animation Studios based on character designs by Rod Willis. Unfortunately, while Smokey was still undoubtedly popular and well-known in the country, his show found itself up against some stiff competition and was thoroughly trounced in the ratings by The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour and Heckle and Jeckle. It remained on the air in reruns, however, until the start of the 1971 television season.
The show marked Smokey’s return to comics with the Smokey Bear series from Gold Key. Whitman published a coloring book and a sticker book, as well as a couple of puzzles utilizing characters from the show. Classic Media released two full episodes on VHS, but nothing further. To date, the entire series has never seen an official release or any new airings. While Smokey isn’t quite the massive icon he was in his early years, he continues to be one of America’s most enduring and powerful public service advertising. His birthday is frequently celebrated through a collaboration of various federal institutions, signage featuring Smokey continues to be widely used in national parks and forests, and persistent advertising campaigns utilizing animation, puppets, suit actors and eventually computer imagery with the likes of Dallas McKennon, Jim Cummings, Jack Angel, Frank Welker and Sam Elliott giving a voice to the character.
“The Outlaws / Silliest Show on Earth / Mission Improbable” (9/13/69) – A pair of escaped convict wolves steal the town’s picnic lunch. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Running Wild / Old Club House / Saga of Gas Bag” (9/20/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Hare Verses Cougar / High Divin’ / Spit ‘N Polish” (9/27/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Mighty Minerva / Casanova Hare / Great Kite Contest” (10/4/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Bessie Paints the Town / Thar She Blows / Hobo Jackal” (10/11/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Sneaky Beaky / Heroes Are Born / Winter and Still Champ” (10/18/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Freddy’s Big Date / Gone Fishin’ / An Apple A Day Keeps” (10/25/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Not So Merry Mailman / An Ill Wind / The Baby Sitters” (11/1/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Fire Fighter’s Convention / End of the World / Hizzoner the Admiral” (11/8/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Invention is the Mother of Necessity / Ancient Caleb Coyote / Haunted Castle” (11/15/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Honorable Freddy Fume / Gold Medal Grizzly / Treasure Hunt” (11/22/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Leave it to Grizzly / Citizen Fume / Invisible Benny” (11/29/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Battle of Penny Echo River / Grizzly Rides Again / Build a Better Bridge” (12/6/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“Feudin’, Fightin’ and Fussin’ / Stick ‘Em Up / Goal Line Grizzly” (12/13/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Crabtrees Forever / Hare of a Thousand Faces / Whar Fer Art Thou” (12/20/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
“The Celebrity / Ice Frolics / The Hambone Heist” (12/27/69) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
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Aside from his well-regarded work in comic books and his self-published magazine Comics Interview, he served as the executive story editor on Street Fighter: The Animated Series.
CLUE CLUB /
One in a series of Hanna-Barbera’s attempts to duplicate the successful Scooby-Doo formula, Clue Club followed the titular club of teenaged sleuths as they investigated a series of mysteries that often involved the strange disappearance of some object or person typically at the behest of Sheriff Bagley (John Stephenson). The Club was comprised of Larry (David Jolliffe), the oldest member and leader that typically handled interviewing the suspects; Pepper (Patricia Stich), who handled the investigation by looking for clues; D.D. (Bob Hastings), who wore a deerstalker cap and often worked with Pepper; and Dottie (Tara Talboy), Pepper’s brilliant sister and the youngest member who typically stayed home (although sometimes made her way into the field) and entered information relayed from Larry into her crime-solving minicomputer or run various forensic tests. The Club was accompanied by two dogs: Woofer (Paul Winchell), a bloodhound that also wore a deerstalker and tended to accuse suspects of the crime without good reason, and Whimper (Jim MacGeorge), an easy-going and intelligent basset hound that sometimes went along with Woofer’s schemes and other times worked against him. While Woofer and Whimper could talk, they did only to each other and communicated in traditional dog fashion with their humans (similarly to Winchell’s earlier vehicle, Goober and the Ghost Chasers). The Club travelled around in a dune buggy (a reworked version of the one from The Funky Phantom) and utilized wristwatch communication devices.
|The Clue Club crew: Larry, Sheriff Bagley, D.D., Dottie, Pepper, Whimper and Woofer.|
Clue Club debuted on CBS on September 4, 1976. The series was written by Herb Armstrong, Haskell Barkin, Dick Conway, Jack Fox, Gordon Glasco, Orville H. Hampton, Duane Poole, Dick Robbins, James Schmerer, Jeffrey Scott and Lee Sheldon, with music provided by Hoyt Curtin. Alex Toth and Donna Zeller handled the character designs. Although the series primarily aired on Saturday morning, the episode, “One of Our Elephants is Missing”, received a special airing on Thanksgiving.
|Whimper trying to see Dottie right-side-up in the buggy's malfunctioning monitor.|
Following the initial airings, the series was heavily edited to put a greater focus on the antics of the two dogs and have the episodes’ overall length shortened. Retitled Woofer & Whimper, Dog Detectives, these reformatted episodes aired as a segment of the package program The Skatebirds from September 10, 1977 until January 21, 1978. Following The Skatebirds’ cancellation, it was moved over to be a part of The Robonic Stooges after they were spun off into its own show. The unaltered episodes returned to CBS on Sunday mornings on September 10, 1978 and remained until January 21, 1979. Clue Club returned periodically to television in the 80s as part of USA Cartoon Express, in the 90s on Cartoon Network as part of their Mysteries, Inc. programming block, and in the early 2000s on Boomerang.
|Dottie at her computer.|
Despite its short run, Clue Club gained a decent bit of merchandise. Rand McNally published a storybook, The Case of the Missing Racehorse by Fern G. Brown and Jim Franzen, a coloring book, a read & color book, The Racetrack Mystery and tray puzzles. Whitman released several standard puzzles. Marvel Comics featured Clue Club stories in two issues of the anthology comic Hanna-Barbera TV Stars in the United States, and World Distributors released Clue Club Annual 1979 in the United Kingdom. Europe was also the only one to receive the board game based on the show from Arrow Games. Letraset Action Transfers released a set of rub-on transfers to create your own scene with the characters. There was also a school tablet from Westab. In 2015, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection.
“The Paper Shaper Caper” (9/4/76) – In the middle of their abduction, Larry, D.D. and Pepper discover a counterfeiting scheme.
“The Case of the Lighthouse Mouse” (9/11/76) – The Clue Club investigates a jewelry theft that seems to point to Uncle Salty as the culprit.
“The Real Gone Gondola” (9/18/76) – The Clue Club investigates the disappearance of a woman at a ski resort.
“Who’s to Blame for the Empty Frame?” (9/25/76) – The Clue Club is called on to investigate the theft of a million-dollar painting, resulting in Woofer and Whimper being stolen.
“The Weird Seaweed Caper” (10/2/76) – An investigation into a sea monster leads to a diamond smuggling operation.
“The Green Thumb Caper” (10/9/76) – The Clue Club investigates a string of robberies at Mr. Cosgrave’s mansion.
“The Disappearing Airport Caper” (10/16/76) – A pilot asks the Clue Club to investigate the disappearance of the plane he landed.
“The Walking House Caper” (10/23/76) – The Clue Club is asked to check out a top security safe that ends up missing.
“The Solar Energy Caper” (10/30/76) – A solar generator goes missing at the science fair the Clue Club attend.
“The Vanishing Train Caper” (11/6/76) – The Clue Club investigates the disappearance of a train carrying gold bullion that they witnessed themselves.
“The Dissolving Statue Caper” (11/13/76) – The Clue Club are presented with a statue at the amusement park that suddenly vanishes.
“The Missing Pig Caper” (11/20/76) – Sally brings the Clue Club to the county fair to see her prize pig only to discover he’s missing.
“One of Our Elephants is Missing” (11/25/76) – The search for a missing elephant at the zoo leads to the discovery that more animals are missing.
“The Amazing Heist” (11/27/76) – A werewolf interferes with the Clue Club’s investigation of a crown theft at a rock festival.
“The Circus Caper” (12/4/76) – While at the circus the Clue Club witness the disappearance of an acrobat.
“The Prehistoric Monster Caper” (12/11/76) – A prehistoric film shoot is put on hold when its director vanishes.
H.R. Pufnstuf was the first television series to be created by Sid and Marty Krofft. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, for which the Kroffts designed the costumed characters for, proved to the networks that productions outside of animation were still viable on Saturday morning. NBC invited the Kroffts to develop their own show for the network. However, the Kroffts didn’t want to just make wraparounds for more animated fare; this time, they wanted to go full live-action.
Their show involved 11-year-old Jimmy (Jack Wild) being targeted by the evil (yet ineffectual) witch, Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes), for his golden magic talking flute, Freddy (Joan Gerber). She lured Jimmy to Living Island where he fell under the protection of the mayor, dragon H.R. Pufnstuf (performed by Roberto Gamonet, voiced by Lennie Weinrib using a southern accent), and his Rescue Racer Crew, mute anthropomorphic bells Cling (Joy Campbell) and Clang (Angelo Rossitto).
On Living Island, everything was alive (as the name implied). That included the houses, the trees, vegetation, household items and even the four winds called on by Pufnstuf to blow Witchiepoo out of the sky. Among the residents of Living Island were Dr. Blinky (performed by John Silver, voiced by Walker Edmiston impersonating Ed Wynn), an owl that served as a physician and scientist that lived in a house prone to sneezing fits; Judy Frog (performed by Sharon Baird, voiced by Gerber), a singing, dancing frog that served as an entertainer; Pop Lolly (Weinrib), a lollipop that sold sweets with Cheese Guards serving as protection against hippie ants looking for freebies; Ludicrous Lion (Silver & Edmiston impersonating W.C. Fields), a shady and greedy peddler that operated out of a carriage pulled by Polka-Dotted Horse (performed by Felix Silla, voiced by Weinrib); Tick Tock (performed by Andy Ratoucheff, voiced by Weinrib), a traveling alarm clock that warned of Witchiepoo attacks; Shirley Pufnstuf (Silver & Gerber impersonating a younger Shirley Temple), H.R.’s sister and a famous actress; Akim Toadenoff the Great (based on Erich von Stroheim, named after Akim Tamiroff, voiced by Weinrib), a monocled toad that worked as a film director; clock couple Grandmother Clock (Gerber) and Grandfather Clock (Edmiston) who were just two of the clock people; resident avian band The Boyds (based on The Byrds) and their lead singer, Lady Boyd (Baird & Gerber); Hippie Tree (Weinrib), a tree that often spoke in hippie slang; Madame Willow (Gerber), an old and elitist tree that used a lorgnette; and Chief Redwood (Edmiston), a Native American tree.
|Witchiepoo and Orson on the Vroom-Broom.|
However, not every resident of Living Island was friendly. Under Wtichiepoo’s employ was Orson Vulture (Campbell & Weinrib), a stuffy and inept vulture that was her favorite flunky and performed a variety of tasks for her; Seymour Spider (Rossitto & Edmiston), a dim-witted spider that served as her hairdresser; Stupid Bat (Baird & Weinrib), who served as a messenger that tended to bring her messages a second too late; a group of evil trees, one that sounded like Bela Lugosi (Weinrib), one that sounded like Peter Lorre (Edmiston), and one that always rhymed (Weinrib); Musrhooms with the ability to turn anyone they touch into mushrooms and whose leader chomped on a cigar while sounding like James Cagney (Weinrib); and skeleton guards that were easily frightened and prone to running off. When not scheming at her snarky castle, Witchiepoo often took to the skies on her rocket-powered Vroom-Broom.
H.R. Pufnstuf was an amalgamation of various projects the Kroffts had worked on before. The main plot was recycled from Kaleidoscope, a live puppet show they performed in the Coca-Cola Pavilion of the HemisFair ’68 World’s Fair. That show included a dragon character originally named Luther who became the mascot of the fair, and a silly witch. Living Island’s currency was buttons, which came from Sid’s childhood of charging his friends buttons to view puppet shows he held in his back yard, as did inspiration from The Wizard of Oz which was the first theatrical film he ever saw. Ludicrous Lion was a reworking of Irving from a 1957 pilot they made called Here’s Irving. The Kroffts also paid homage to their time touring as the opening act for Judy Garland by basing Judy Frog on her (unfortunately, she died six months before getting to see that tribute).
In casting Jimmy, a character with the hopes of connecting with their potential audience, Sid first saw Wild when his friend Lionel Bart showed him a rough cut of the film Oliver! The Kroffts immediately hired him, and Marty took guardianship of the 16-year-old British actor while he was filming the show at Paramount Studios in California. Although Wild remembered his time in the Krofft household fondly, Marty found him a handful considering he was already dealing with two young daughters on top of building up a show from scratch. Casting Hayes was a simple choice for the Kroffts when she came in to audition as the character she presented was basically an extension of herself. To cast the little people needed to wear and control the various character suits, the Kroffts had their friend Billy Barty (who was unavailable to star in the show but did portray a de-aged Witchiepoo in an episode) get the word out through the newsletter of his organization, the Little People of America. Credited as “puppeteers” since they not only wore the suits but often had to operate various parts of them, the cast was comprised of many people who worked with the Kroffts before and would continue to do so through many of their television and stage productions. The various costumes were designed by Evenda Leeper. Originally, the concept for the series was to have a Western element to it before being changed to a fantasy one. Pufnstuf’s accent and cowboy boots were the only remnant of that original direction to remain in the final product.
H.R. Pufnstuf debuted on NBC on September 6, 1969. As would become customary in Krofft productions, the series’ theme by Les Szarvas laid out all the exposition to set up the premise as well as catch up new viewers who may have missed previous episodes; allowing the writers to focus entirely on the story at hand. Unfortunately, the Szarvas’ tune seemed a little too close to “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” for Paul Simon’s liking, resulting in his suing the production. As part of their settlement, Simon was credited as the song’s co-writer. Along with all the voices he provided, Weinrib was also one of the series’ writers with Paul Harrison and Robert Ridolphi. The series’ music was composed by Gene Page, Jr., with Szarvas providing the various song numbers used during the episodes. The show made use of a laugh track that producer Si Rose, having come from sitcoms, insisted on. The Kroffts were initially hesitant until Rose convinced them that with the type of show they were making the laugh track would be necessary to let the children watching know when to laugh.
A persisting notion about the show was that it made reference to drug culture, what with the colorful sets, crazy characters, talking mushrooms and even the name “Pufnstuf”. Some maintain that “H.R.” was some kind of drug slang, despite the production stating that they stood for “His Royal” or “Royal Highness” backwards. By some accounts, either one or both of the Kroffts indulged in recreational drugs, which they have repeatedly denied in interviews. They’ve also denied any intentional allusion to drugs both directly and with a bit of a wink. Marty would eventually admit in a later interview that “Pufnstuf”, as well as the title of another show, Lidsville, were actually intentional marijuana references done as pranks to see if they could slip them past clueless network executives. Regardless of how much truth or projected subtext goes into analyzing H.R. Pufnstuf, the show did find a loyal fanbase among a crowd looking for a psychedelic trip.
Despite being one of NBC’s highest-rated programs, it was also extremely expensive as the Kroffts had chosen to shoot it on film (their only program to do so as they switched to the much-cheaper videotape for the remainder of their library). Rather than proceed with a second season, NBC just renewed it for several cycles of reruns until 1972. Following the conclusion of the NBC run, ABC began airing it on both Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1978. That year, it was packaged into Krofft Superstars with other Krofft productions, which ran until 1985. Reruns would return to television in 1999 when TV Land would air it as part of their Super Retrovision Saturdaze Saturday morning-themed overnight programming block, and then again in 2004 as part of their weekend late-night block TV Land Kitschen.
Looking to get in on the show’s popularity, Universal Studios approached the Kroffts about doing a film version financed by the studio and primary sponsor Kellogg’s. Titled simply Pufnstuf, the film essentially combined the plots of “The Magic Path” and “The Visiting Witch” with gags recycled from “The Stand-In” and “The Box Kite Caper”. A little more backstory was added to Jimmy’s life before he ended up on Living Island, as well as several new characters: a previously mentioned Boss Witch (Martha Raye, the second choice after Bette Davis felt insulted at being the first choice), her chauffer Heimlich Rat (Allan Melvin), Witchiepoo’s rival Witch Hazel (Cass Elliot, who was Sid’s neighbor and took the role as a favor), Googy Gopher and Orville Pelican (both performed by Barty, voiced by Don Messick and Melvin, respectively). The rest of the cast and crew was largely held over from the television production, with some modifications made to the sets and costumes. Weinrib wasn’t available to work on the film, resulting in his being replaced by Melvin and Messick for many of his various voices, and the film was written by Rose with John Fenton Murray. Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox also came in as the composers, offering a groovier soundtrack than Szarvas’ (and would go on to be successful music-writing partners). The film, directed by series director Hollingsworth Morse, premiered in San Antonio, Texas on June 3rd, 1970, before a wider limited release on June 15. The film was modestly successful, although it was hampered by detractors who felt it was just an extended episode of the show and the growing public disinterest in G-rated films.
Although further adventures of Pufnstuf and his friends had come to an end, the characters still continued to make appearances in other Krofft productions and beyond. Pufnstuf and Witchiepoo guest-starred in an episode of Lidsville (on which Hayes was a regular as another character), then Pufnstuf on his own in The Lost Island, Witchiepoo with Orson, Seymour and Stupid in Horror Hotel, and on her own in The Bay City Rollers Meet the Saturday Superstars preview special and The Bay City Rollers Show. The Kroffts also loaned out Witchiepoo to The Paul Lynde Halloween Special where she appeared as the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), and Pufnstuf to an episode of CHiPs for a cameo appearance (with Weinrib reprising the voice). The characters appeared in a number of stage show tours, most notably H.R. Pufnstuf & The Brady Kids Live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1973 and the Ice Capades. In 1971, an elaborate puppet show was run at Six Flags Over Mid-America (now Six Flags St. Louis) at The Sid and Marty Krofft Puppet Theater while costumed performers as Pufnstuf, Cling and Clang walked the park.
At the height of its popularity, Pufnstuf was a merchandising goldmine. As mentioned, Kellogg’s was the primary sponsor of the show and they included various offers and premiums with their products including colorful rings, stickers, a Freddy the Flute replica, records, pennants, and hand puppets. Remco produced their own set of puppets, and Mars Incorporated offered free playsuits with the purchase of their Maltesers, Revels and Treets candies. From 1970-72 Gold Key Comics published an 8-issue series based around the show, while Whitman released several puzzles, coloring books, sticker books and a press-out book. Aladdin also released a tin lunchbox, and Milton Bradley a board game. In 2000, new merchandise began to be made starting with an action figure as part of Living Toyz’s The Kroft Superstars toyline. In 2005, Modern Publishing released a new set of coloring books. Beginning in 2019 Funko released several products including a set of POP! toys featuring Pufnstuf, Witchiepoo, Cling and Clang, Pez dispensers, Nodniks, and a soda.
One merchandising partner, however, attempted to cut the Kroffts out of the picture entirely. The ad agency of Needham, Harper and Steers (now DDB Worldwide) approached the Kroffts in 1970 about creating characters they could use in their upcoming McDonald’s advertising campaign. After meeting with the Kroffts and getting a bit of information about how they created their suits and puppets, they were told that the McDonald’s deal fell through. In reality, Needham already had the account and took what they learned to create the McDonaldland ad campaign utilizing some former Krofft employees. The sets and costumes, particularly that of Mayor McCheese (performed by Billy Curtis, voiced by Howard Morris impersonating Ed Wynn), bore a strong resemblance to Pufnstuf. Weinrib was also retained to voice one of the characters: the large purple monster named Grimace. Because of McDonaldland, merchandising deals with Pufnstuf fell to the wayside and their characters were replaced in the Ice Capades by the McDonaldland ones. The Kroffts sued McDonald’s in 1973 for infringement and lost profits, ending up winning a judgement of $50,000. On appeal in 1977 and with the changes brought about by the Copyright Act of 1976, the court found in their favor again and they were awarded more than $1 million. McDonald’s was also ordered to stop airing commercials featuring some of the characters. McDonaldland itself, however, continued on until 2003 when they abandoned the campaign and all of the characters (except their mascot, Ronald McDonald) outside of special uses.
The Kroffts have often talked about revisiting the world of Pufnstuf and doing something new with the character. While not exactly what they meant, they did get a chance in 2016, as Pufnstuf (Mary Karcz suit, Donna Kimball face, Randy Credico voice), Cling (Arturo Gil), Clang (Joseph S. Griffo) and Freddy (Kimball) returned to television for the first time in an episode of the Krofft-created Mutt & Stuff on Nick Jr.; where Pufnstuf was revealed to be the uncle of giant stuffed dog, Stuff (Meegan Godfrey suit, Drew Massey face and voice).
Beginning in 1999, Rhino released several VHS tapes with two episodes apiece and the , as well as an ultimate box set and the Hollywood Bowl performance. In 2002, Pufnstuf made the leap to DVD in the compilation collections The World of Sid & Marty Krofft and Saturday Morning with Sid & Marty Krofft, which featured an episode from each of the Krofft shows. In 2004, they released the complete series to DVD for the first time, while Universal Studios released the film in 2009. 2009 also saw the release of the VHS collection The World of Sid & Marty Krofft by Columbia House, which featured an episode from each Krofft show per volume. A compilation of four episodes, billed as 4 of Sid and Marty’s Favorites, was released in 2005, while Fabulous Films release their own 7-episode compilation, H.R. Pufnstuf: The World of Sid & Marty Krofft, overseas. SMK and Vivendi Entertainment (now Cinedigm) obtained the rights to the show. Vivendi re-released the complete series in 2011 on two versions: a traditional set, and a collector’s set featuring a Pufnstuf bobblehead, while SMK released the compilation Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits. In 2015, Beyond Home Entertainment released the complete series internationally alongside Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl in the compilation The World of Sid & Marty Krofft Collector’s Set, and then re-released it in 2018.
Along with home video, there were several musical releases as well. In 1969, Capitol Records released Sing-along with H.R. Pufnstuf, which featured the songs used in the show, as well as the motion picture soundtrack the following year. The Pickwick Children’s Chorus covered the song on their compilation album Sesame Street & Other Children’s Pop Hits! In 1990, the opening and closing theme were featured on the Australian compilation album 30 Years of Funtastic TV Toons 1960-1990 from Concept Records. In 1995, The Murmurs re-recorded the show’s theme as part of MCA Records’ compilation album Saturday Morning (Cartoons’ Greatest Hits). The following year, the original theme was included on TVT Records’ compilation Television’s Greatest Hits Volume 5: In Living Color. In 1998, Interscope Records and Gazillion Records released H.R. Pufnstuf and Other Sid & Marty Kroft Favorites, featuring several songs from the show and the various themes and a couple of songs from other Krofft shows.
“The Wheely Bird” (9/13/69) – Jimmy and Pufnstuf use a bird-shaped “Trojan Horse” to get inside Witchiepoo’s castle and rescue Freddy.
“Show Biz Witch” (9/20/69) – Jimmy and Pufnstuff hold a talent show to raise money for Jimmy to buy a pogo stick that could bounce him home.
“The Mechanical Boy” (9/27/69) – Witchiepoo catches Jimmy stealing her boat and turns him into a mechanical boy that will do her bidding.
“The Box Kite Caper” (10/4/69) – A kite-flying contest inspires Jimmy and Freddy to try and get off the island using a giant box kite.
“The Golden Key” (10/11/69) – Jimmy is given a map to a key that will open a door back home, but he has to choose between his escape and rescuing Pufnstuf from Witchiepoo.
“The Birthday Party” (10/18/69) – Witchiepoon crashes Jimmy’s birthday party, dousing the attendees with laughing gas so that she can make off with Freddy.
“The Horse with the Golden Throat” (10/25/69) – Dr. Blinkey has to rescue Freddy after he’s accidentally swallowed by Polka-Dotted Horse.
“The Stand In” (11/1/69) – A plan forms to get Witchiepoo into Shirley’s movie so that Jimmy can steal her Vroom-Broom and escape the island.
“You Can’t Have Your Cake” (11/8/69) – Judy Frog has to use her new dance step to rescue Jimmy and Freddy when they fall into Witchiepoo’s cake trap.
“Dinner for Two, Please, Orson” (11/15/69) – Jimmy hopes to use a time machine to prevent his arrival, but it ends up aging him into the man of Witchiepoo’s dreams.
“Flute, Book and Candle” (11/22/69) – Jimmy, Pufnstuf and Dr. Blinky go through one of Witchiepoo’s books to find a way to change Freddy back from a mushroom.
“Tooth for a Tooth” (11/29/69) – Witchiepoo disguises herself as a little girl to get Dr. Blinky to look at a bad tooth and he sprays her with an anti-witch potion.
“The Visiting Witch” (12/6/69) – Witchiepoo captures Pufnstuf as a gift for Boss Witch, but when she ends up delayed Jimmy takes her place to free him.
“The Almost Election of Mayor Witchiepoo” (12/13/69) – Witchiepoo enters the mayoral race against Pufnstuf, and naturally she cheats to win.
“Whaddaya Mean the Horse Gets the Girl?” (12/20/69) – Shirley makes a movie to raise money for the anti-witch fund which prompts Witchiepoo to demand that her life story be made.
“Jimmy Who?” (12/27/69) – Dr. Blinky and Witchiepoo try to remind Jimmy of who he is when he gets amnesia from a blow to the head.
“Pufnstuf” (6/15/70) – Witchiepoo lures Jimmy to Living Island to steal his magical flute and win Witch of the Year when the Witches’ Council visits for their convention.