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Marty Krofft, the king of Saturday morning television, dies at 86


He was called the king of Saturday morning television. Marty Krofft died on Saturday. In the 1960s and '70s, he and his older brother Sid made trippy children's shows with huge, oddball puppets.


They sent a family deep underground to fight dinosaurs in "Land Of The Lost."


WESLEY EURE: (Singing) High all the rapids, it struck their tiny raft.

SPENCER MILLIGAN, WESLEY EURE AND KATHY COLEMAN: (As Rick Marshall, Will Marshall and Holly Marshall, yelling).

EURE: (Singing) And plunged them down a thousand feet below.

MARTIN: And it got even trippier. Sid and Marty Krofft earned legions of fans when they sent young Jimmy into a magical world to meet his friend Freddy the Flute, the evil Witchiepoo and the title character, the dragon H.R. Pufnstuf.


UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL GROUP: (Singing) H.R. Pufnstuf, who's your friend when things get rough. H.R. Pufnstuf - can't do a little 'cause he can't do enough.

MARTÍNEZ: Only 17 episodes of "H.R. Pufnstuf" and stuff were made, but it became a cult classic among Gen X kids and stoners.


MARTY KROFFT: Most people thought we were smoking while we were doing the show.

MARTÍNEZ: That was Marty Krofft in a DVD interview from 2000.

MARTIN: Sid and Marty both got their start as puppeteers. And after Sid found success and went on tour, Marty wanted to do it, too.


KROFFT: So I got most of my education on the streets of the Bronx while my brother was in Europe doing his act. And when he was ultimately signed to go tour with Judy Garland, that's when I joined my brother and - with our puppet act.

MARTIN: They went on to make what they called the first adults-only puppet show in 1962. From there, they designed costumes for TV shows before eventually creating their own.

MARTÍNEZ: Their success led to many, many other shows, such as "Sigmund And The Sea Monsters" and "The Krofft Supershow." In an interview, Marty recalled the enthusiasm of his fans, including a few who cornered him in a public bathroom.


KROFFT: They sang 14 theme songs to me in the toilet, so I - I mean, these are the things that probably make it all worth it. You say, hey, I did something that meant something, you know? I know we didn't save any lives, but we made a few people happy out there.

MARTÍNEZ: Marty Krofft died of kidney failure, according to a family representative. He was 86 years old. He is survived by his brother, Sid, who's now 94.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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