|Created by||Sid and Marty Krofft|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||17|
|Producer||Sid and Marty Krofft|
|Running time||25 minutes (per episode)|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 6 –|
December 27, 1969
H.R. Pufnstuf is a children's television series produced by Sid and Marty Krofft in the United States. It was the first Krofft live-action, life-sized-puppet program (not including their previous work with the Hanna-Barbera program The Banana Splits Adventure Hour). The seventeen episodes were originally broadcast Saturday mornings from September 6, 1969, to December 27, 1969. The broadcasts were successful enough that NBC kept it on the schedule until August 1972. The show was shot at Paramount Studios and its opening was shot at Big Bear Lake, California. Reruns of the show aired on ABC Saturday morning from September 2, 1972, to September 8, 1973, and on Sunday mornings in some markets from September 16, 1973, to September 8, 1974. It was syndicated by itself from September 1974 to June 1978 and in a package with six other Krofft series under the banner Krofft Superstars from 1978 to 1985. Reruns of the show were featured on TV Land in 1999 as part of its Super Retrovision Saturdaze Saturday morning-related overnight prime programming block and in the summer of 2004 as part of its TV Land Kitschen weekend late-night prime programming block, and it was later shown on MeTV from 2014 until 2016.
In 2004 and 2007, H.R. Pufnstuf was ranked #22 and #27 respectively on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.
Fast food chain McDonald's later plagiarized the series' concept for its long-running advertising campaign McDonaldland, and the company was successfully sued by the Krofft brothers for the copyright infringement.
The Kroffts created the H.R. Pufnstuf character for the HemisFair '68 World's Fair, where they produced a show called Kaleidoscope for the Coca-Cola pavilion. The character's name was Luther, and he became a mascot for the fair.
H.R. Pufnstuf introduced the Kroffts' most-used plot scenario of a fairy tale of good versus evil, as well as their second plot scenario of the stranger in a strange land. The show centered on a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy, played by teenage actor Jack Wild. He is 11 years old when he arrives on the island and turns 12 in the episode called "The Birthday Party". Jimmy and a talking flute named Freddy take a ride on a mysterious boat, but the boat was actually owned by a wicked witch named Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (played by Billie Hayes) who rode on a broomstick-vehicle called the Vroom Broom. She used the boat to lure Jimmy and Freddy to her castle on Living Island, where she was going to take Jimmy prisoner and steal Freddy for her own purposes.
The Mayor of Living Island was a friendly and helpful anthropomorphic dragon named H.R. Pufnstuf, performed by Roberto Gamonet and voiced by the show's writer Lennie Weinrib, who also voiced many of the other characters. The dragon rescued Jimmy and protected him from Witchiepoo, as his cave was the only place where her magic had no effect.
All of the characters on Living Island were realized by large cumbersome costumes or puppetry of anthropomorphic animals and objects. Everything was alive on the island, including houses, boats, clocks, candles, and so forth; virtually any part of the Living Island sets could become a character, usually voiced in a parody of a famous film star such as Mae West, Edward G. Robinson, or John Wayne.
After creating costumes for characters in the live-action portion of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, Sid and Marty Krofft were asked to develop their own Saturday morning children's series for NBC. The plot was recycled from Kaleidoscope, a live puppet show the Kroffts had staged in the Coca-Cola pavilion of the HemisFair '68 World's Fair. It included several key characters from this show, such as Luther the dragon and a silly witch. Other ideas were cultivated from Sid's life. As a child, he had charged friends buttons, not pennies, to view puppet shows in his back yard; buttons were standard currency on Living Island. Sid and Marty had toured with their puppets as the opening act for Judy Garland, and they based Judy the Frog on her. Ludicrous Lion bears more than a passing resemblance to Irving, the eponymous lion in a pilot they had made in 1957 called Here's Irving.
Sid's friend Lionel Bart asked him to view a rough cut of the movie adaptation of Oliver! Sid took notice of young actor Jack Wild and immediately decided that he was the kid whom he wanted to play the lead in his television series. Only two actresses auditioned to play Witchiepoo. The first was then-unknown Penny Marshall, but it was believed that she was not right for the part. Stage veteran Billie Hayes came in next, set into a maniacal cackle and hopped up on a desk. She was given the part on the spot.
For Marty Krofft, the production was a particular headache. Marty accepted guardianship of Jack Wild while the teenage boy was in the United States filming the show. He later described bringing Wild into his home as a mistake, considering that he already had his hands full with two young daughters.
Like most children's television shows of the era, H.R. Pufnstuf contained a laugh track, the inclusion of which the Kroffts were initially against. Sid Krofft commented "We were sort of against that, but Si Rose — being in sitcoms — he felt that when the show was put together that the children would not know when to laugh." Marty Krofft added "the bottom line — it's sad — you gotta tell them when it's funny. And the laugh track, (Si) was right. It was necessary, as much as we were always looking to have a real laugh track, a real audience. In comedies, if you don't have them (laugh track), you're in big trouble, because if you don't hear a laugh track, it's not funny. And that's the way the audience (at home) was programmed to view these shows."
H.R. Pufnstuf appeared in a segment of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and along with Witchiepoo in the Lidsville episode "Have I Got a Girl For Hoo Doo", where Hoo Doo conjures Pufnstuf as Witchiepoo's date for a witches' dance. The Krofft Superstar Hour also involved characters in two segments The Lost Island (which H.R. Pufnstuf was in) and Horror Hotel (in which Witchiepoo, Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider, and Stupid Bat are featured with Hoodoo). The Kroffts also loaned out the character, with Hayes reprising her role, for The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, in which she appears as the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West (portrayed by Margaret Hamilton).
The show's theme song, titled "H.R. Pufnstuf", was written by Les Szarvas but is also credited to Paul Simon. Simon's credit was added when he successfully sued The Kroffts, claiming that the theme too closely mimicked his song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)". He is credited as the song's co-writer in TeeVee Tunes's Television's Greatest Hits Volume 5: In Living Color.
A cover of the show's theme song, performed by The Murmurs, is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"The Magic Path"||September 6, 1969|
|Jimmy and H.R. Pufnstuf infiltrate Witchiepoo's castle to rescue Judy Frog so that they can get directions to the Magic Path. The Magic Path is the only way off Living Island. Will Jimmy and Freddy get back home?|
|2||"The Wheely Bird"||September 13, 1969|
|Jimmy and H.R. Pufnstuf use a bird-shaped "Trojan Horse" as a ruse to enter Witchipoo's castle and recover Freddy from Witchiepoo.|
|3||"Show Biz Witch"||September 20, 1969|
|When shyster Ludicrous Lion convinces Jimmy that he has a super-duper pogo stick for sale that could bounce him home, H.R. Pufnstuf and Jimmy conduct a talent show to raise the money.|
|4||"The Mechanical Boy"||September 27, 1969|
|After catching him trying to steal her boat, Witchiepoo puts a spell on Jimmy that turns him into a mechanical boy and commands him to acquire Freddy for her. The Clock People have to find a way to cure Jimmy.|
|5||"The Stand In"||October 4, 1969|
|When H.R. Pufnstuf’s sister Shirley comes to Living Island to make a movie, Jimmy and Freddie get parts in it. Together, they hatch a plot to get Witchiepoo into the movie so that Jimmy can steal her Vroom Broom to escape.|
|6||"The Golden Key"||October 11, 1969|
|Sour Jimmy buys a map to the location of the Golden Key which unlocks the Golden Door (a secret way off of Living Island), Witchiepoo captures H.R. Pufnstuf and imprisons him in her dungeon diverting Jimmy from his escape.|
|7||"The Birthday Party"||October 18, 1969|
|It's Jimmy's birthday and Pufnstuf and his friends fix a surprise birthday party for him. Witchiepoo invites herself to Jimmy's party and steals Freddy by rendering the partygoers helpless with laughing gas.|
|8||"The Box Kite Kaper"||October 25, 1969|
|Jimmy and Freddy attempt to fly from Living Island in a giant box kite during a kite-flying contest.|
|9||"You Can't Have Your Cake"||November 1, 1969|
|Witchiepoo hides in a cake to steal Freddy. Also, Judy Frog teaches the gang a pre-Michael Jackson Moonwalk dance.|
|10||"The Horse with the Golden Throat"||November 8, 1969|
|The Polka-Dotted Horse accidentally swallows Freddy causing a big catastrophe with Dr. Blinky, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Jimmy.|
|11||"Dinner for Two"||November 15, 1969|
|Jimmy and Freddy both age 70 years when the Clock Family's time machine malfunctions. Witchiepoo mistakes Jimmy for an old man and falls in love with him.|
|12||"Flute, Book and Candle"||November 22, 1969|
|Freddy gets turned into a mushroom by the touch of Witchiepoo's evil mushrooms. Jimmy disguises himself as a beggar to rescue Freddy from the spell.|
|13||"Tooth for a Tooth"||November 29, 1969|
|Disguised as a little girl, Witchiepoo visits Dr. Blinky about a bad tooth. But she breaks into fits of rage when the pain becomes too much forcing the doctor to calm her down via love potion.|
|14||"The Visiting Witch"||December 6, 1969|
|Witchiepoo receives a message from headquarters that the Boss Witch is coming to Living Island for an inspection. In a plot to impress the Boss Witch, she ends up kidnapping H.R. Pufnstuf.|
|15||"The Almost Election of Witchiepoo"||December 13, 1969|
|Witchiepoo runs for Mayor of Living Island challenging H.R. Pufnstuf with another of her spells.|
|16||"Whaddya Mean the Horse Gets the Girl?"||December 20, 1969|
|H.R. Pufnstuf's sister Shirley stars in a movie to raise money for Living Island's anti-witch fund.|
|17||"'Jimmy Who?"||December 27, 1969|
|Jimmy gets amnesia that Dr. Blinky and Witchiepoo take turns trying to cure with flashbacks from earlier episodes.|
All episodes were directed by Hollingsworth Morse and written by Lennie Weinrib and Paul Harrison. (Robert Ridolphi also co-wrote Episode 1 "The Magic Path".)
|Sharon Baird||Stupid Bat||Lennie Weinrib|
|Judy Frog||Joan Gerber|
|Lady Boyd||End credits vocals|
|Joy Campbell||Orson Vulture||Lennie Weinrib|
|Robert Gamonet||H.R. Pufnstuf||Lennie Weinrib|
|Angelo Rossitto||Seymour Spider||Walker Edmiston|
|Johnny Silver||Dr. Blinky||Walker Edmiston|
|Andy Ratoucheff||Tick Tock||Lennie Weinrib|
|Felix Silla||Polka-Dotted Horse||Lennie Weinrib|
Main article: Pufnstuf (film)
While the television series was still in production, the Kroffts were approached to do a film adaptation. A joint venture between Universal Pictures and the show's sponsor Kellogg's Cereal, the 1970 film retained most of the cast and crew from the series and featured guest appearances by Cass Elliot as Witch Hazel and Martha Raye as Boss Witch. The movie was finally released on VHS in 2001 by Universal Home Video as part of its Universal Treasures Collection and on DVD on May 19, 2009. The film also included Googy Gopher, Orville Pelican, and Boss Witch's chauffeur Heinrich Rat, who were exclusive to the movie. A difference in the film is that the characters that had been voiced by Lennie Weinrib were each voiced by Allan Melvin and Don Messick.
The Kroffts have long had plans for a new H.R. Pufnstuf film. Sony first attempted a remake in 2000, but dropped the project. Eight years later, Sony again announced development on the project, but there has been no news since.
A number of USA stage show tours were run starring the same characters from the show. The most prominent of these was "H.R. Pufnstuf & The Brady Kids Live at the Hollywood Bowl", which was performed and recorded in 1973. This performance was released on VHS in 1997.
An elaborate H.R. Pufnstuf puppet show was featured at The Sid and Marty Krofft Puppet Theater at Six Flags Over Mid-Missouri in 1971. H.R. Pufnstuf and his pals Cling and Clang also made life-size appearances at the park. A section of the 1971 Six Flags Over Mid-Missouri map shows the location of the theater near entrance to the park's Sky-Way Ride. 
In 2004, Rhino Entertainment/Rhino Retrovision released H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series, featuring all 17 episodes on three discs, remastered and uncut, accompanied by interviews with Sid & Marty Krofft, Billie Hayes, and Jack Wild. Pufnstuf, a major motion picture released in 1970, was also released on May 19, 2009, by Universal Studios. SMK and Vivendi Entertainment has obtained the home video rights to the series and released the complete series on January 11, 2011. Two versions of the release exist; one is a traditional complete series set, while the other is a collector's set, featuring a bobble-head of H.R. Pufnstuf. The series is also available in Digital media format at iTunes Store.
In the United Kingdom, during 1986, Channel 5 Video released the opening three episodes of the television series on VHS.
The show was the subject of a successful lawsuit brought by the Kroffts against the fast food restaurant McDonald's, whose McDonaldland characters were found to have infringed the show's copyright. The case, Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 562 F.2d 1157, was decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977.
The Krofft brothers have responded in several interviews to popular beliefs that subtle recreational drug references exist in the show. For example, the title character's name Pufnstuf has been interpreted as a reference to smoking hand-rolled (H.R.) marijuana (puffin' stuff); Marty Krofft has said the initials H.R. actually stand for "Royal Highness" backwards. The show's theme song lyric "he can't do a little, 'cause he can't do enough" has been read as referring to the addictive nature of drugs. Pufnstuf has quotes like "Whoa, dude!" and other "hippie" slang words. Lennie Weinrib, the show's head writer and the voice of Pufnstuf, has said, "I think fans gave it a kind of mysterious code-like meaning, like ‘Ah, was Pufnstuf puffing stuff? Like grass?’ Was it psychedelic? Was it drug oriented? Not to us, it wasn't." In a 2000 interview, Marty Krofft answered the question by saying, "The Krofft look has a lot of color, but there were no drug connotations in the show." He addressed the topic at length in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2004, in response to the question, "OK, let's get this right out in the open. Is H.R. Pufnstuf just one giant drug reference?":
We've heard that for 35 years. We did not intentionally do anything related to drugs in the story. People thought we were on drugs. You can't do good television while on drugs. People never believe you when you say that, but you can't. The shows were very bright and spacey looking. They may have lent themselves to that culture at the time, but we didn't ascribe that meaning to them, and I can't speak to what adults were doing when they were watching the shows. We just set out to make a quality children's program.— Marty Krofft
Authors of books on the show and its contemporaries, however, have not always accepted the Kroffts' alternative explanations for apparent references to drugs. David Martindale, author of Pufnstuf & Other Stuff, maintains that the Kroffts' desire to attract an audience who are now parents of impressionable children pushes them to downplay the double entendres: "But to deny it, the shows lose some of their mystique. The Kroffts prefer to remain playfully vague." Martindale said in another interview that he fully believes Marty Krofft's insistence that he did not use drugs, especially given that Marty's focus was that of a businessman, but Martindale describes Sid Krofft as "a big kid" and "a hippy", saying, "His comment when I told him we were going to do this book was—and I quote—'Oh, far out.' He says these shows didn't come from smoking just a little pot, and you could say, 'Oh, yeah. It comes from smoking a lot of pot.' But I think he was very deliberately doing double meanings so the show could amuse people on different levels."
Kevin Burke, co-author of Saturday Morning Fever: Growing Up with Cartoon Culture, argues that the "consistency of thought" in the rumors of drug references has a basis, although his co-author and brother Timothy Burke, a history professor at Swarthmore College, insists "human beings are capable of achieving hallucinatory heights without chemical assistance." Contradicting his own position, Marty Krofft has neither admitted nor hinted in occasional interviews that the references were made knowingly; in one case, a writer reported that when pressed as to the connotation of "lids" in the title Lidsville, "Well, maybe we just had a good sense of humor", Krofft said, laughing. His comments to another interviewer were more direct; in a Times Union profile whose author observed, "Watching the shows today, it's hard to imagine a show with more wink-and-nod allusions to pot culture, short of something featuring characters named Spliffy and Bong-O", Krofft conceded that the show's title had been an intentional marijuana reference, as had Lidsville, but "that was just a prank to see if they could get them past clueless NBC executives".
Six Flags Over Mid-Missouri featured an elaborate H.R. Pufnstuf puppet show at The Krofft Puppet Theater in 1971. H.R. Pufnstuf and his pals Cling and Clang also made life-size appearances at the park. The Sid and Marty Krofft Puppet Theater at Six Flags Over Mid-Missouri in 1971 and a section of the 1971 Six Flags Over Mid-Missouri map showing the location of the theater at the park.