Marty Krofft, co-creator of hit kids’ TV shows, dies of kidney failure at 86

Nov 26, 2023, 8:00 PM

Marty Krofft, a legendary figure often referred to as the “King of Saturday Mornings," died Satur...

Marty Krofft, a legendary figure often referred to as the “King of Saturday Mornings," died Saturday in Los Angeles. (Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures Archive)

(Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures Archive)

Originally Published: 26 NOV 23 00:59 ET
Updated: 26 NOV 23 12:20 ET

(CNN) — Marty Krofft, co-producer of iconic children’s television shows including “H.R. Pufnstuf” and “Land of the Lost,” died Saturday afternoon in California, his representative announced. He was 86.

Krofft died of kidney failure in Los Angeles surrounded by family and friends, his publicist B. Harlan Boll said in a statement.

The producer, along with his brother, Sid Krofft, are known for their work creating hit children’s television shows that spanned several generations in the 1970s.

The duo had been doing puppet shows when NBC asked them to produce a Saturday morning children’s series. That became “H.R. Pufnstuf,” which had established itself as a fan-favorite character from their live gigs.

“Its success spawned a feature film, produced with Universal Pictures as a partner and distributor,” his representative wrote.

Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures became a household name in the 1970s, helping launch them into creating and producing family and kids shows for more than 50 years. Eventually, Marty Krofft would be referred to as the “King of Saturday Mornings.”

Krofft and his brother are the brains behind television shows including “The Bugaloos,” “Lidsville,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Pryor’s Place,” “Far Out Space Nuts,” “The Lost Saucer,” “The Krofft Supershow,” “Wonderbug,” “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl,” “Dr. Shrinker,” and “Bigfoot & Wildboy.”

The Krofft brothers, fueled by creativity and a big dream, wanted their TV characters to live outside the television box. In 1976, they opened an amusement park in Atlanta, in what was then called The Omni. To call it fantastical might be an understatement.

Visitors to “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft” rode an eight-story escalator and were greeted by actors in costume, a carousel and a ride in which they sat in a human-sized pinball, ricocheting through a course, according to the Atlanta History Center.

It was all so groovy and fun – until the park petered out for a multitude of reasons just a few months later. But the Kroffts live on in Atlanta. The Omni was renamed CNN Center, and those who took tours of CNN’s Atlanta operations began by riding up the escalator.

In the late 1980s, Krofft and his brother created and produced the satirical series “D.C. Follies,” which featured a cast of life-size puppets depicting prominent figures including Richard Nixon and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The show, which ran for two seasons from 1987 to 1989 during prime time, became a hit among politicians as well as the public.

After appearing on a feature show on CBS in 1988, Krofft created a series of live shows entitled “Comedy Kings” for the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Other prime time shows include “Donny & Marie” on ABC, “The Brady Bunch Hour,” and “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.’

The Krofft brothers were awarded the Lifetime Career Award at the Saturn Awards in 2003 for creating some of those most iconic fantastical television shows.

In 2018, they received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The pair received a star on the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020 in recognition of their “Golden Anniversary.”

Most recently, Krofft received the Julie Award at the 2023 Dragon Con in Atlanta.

Marty Krofft is survived by brothers, Harry Krofft and Sid Krofft; his daughters Deanna Krofft-Pope, Kristina and Kendra Krofft; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

CNN’s Phil Gast contributed to this report.

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Marty Krofft, co-creator of hit kids’ TV shows, dies of kidney failure at 86