There is no denying Marty Krofft is a television legend.
He and his brother, Sid, will soon be celebrating 60 years in the entertainment business, but to hear it from him, his long-lasting career doesn’t top the list of what he’s most grateful for.
During a recent interview at Dragon Con in Atlanta, Krofft discussed how his company, Sid and Marty Krofft Pictures, is a family affair. Puppeteering has been a part of his family for generations, and Krofft joined the business after his brothers found success; he was too young to join them on the road for their vaudeville acts and collaborations with the Ringling Brothers Circus for the first two years.
However, when Marty came of age, he and Sid joined forces and became the opening act for entertainers such as Judy Garland, Liberace, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Because of those connections, the Kroffts were able to get many other celebrities to lend their voices to their adult marionette show called “Les Poupees de Paris,” which played the Seattle and New York World’s Fairs and ultimately landed them a deal to create a children’s show with NBC.
While Krofft is still involved in the day-to-day direction of Sid and Marty Krofft Pictures, his daughter, Deanna, has risen through the ranks to take on a leadership role, and it’s obvious he is proud of the heights the company continues to reach. In fact, he took every opportunity he could to brag about the accomplishments achieved by her and her two sisters, Kristina and Kendra.
“I don’t care how tough they are, how beautiful they are, or how smart they are. They’re good people,” he said about his daughters. “Work is only part of your life, and it can be a lot. I’ve tried over the years to instill that this is our profession and our work is not our whole life. But I’m blessed. I can complain or not acknowledge things. Nobody’s perfect. But we’re all still together, fighting it out. Surviving. It may be corny, but it’s the truth. And no matter what’s going on with ourselves, problems or not, we’re always looking out for other people. We care about what’s happening. I’m proud of that.”
The Kroffts are probably best known for shows including Land of the Lost, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and HR Pufnstuf, which celebrated the 54th anniversary of its premiere earlier this month.
During the annual Dragon Con Parade, Krofft felt the love for his library of projects when fans were screaming at him along the route. Despite having been involved with other events like the Rose Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Krofft noted the Dragon Con Parade blew him away.
“We had thousands of fans out there,” he said. “They were calling for Pufnstuf and me. It was kinda wild! I don’t know how many thousand people were sitting and were standing in the street. To me, it seemed like 100,000! Maybe it was only 50,000, but it really helped show how many thousands of fans we have. Millions of them!”
Dragon Con also has a large cosplay presence, with one fan even attending one of Krofft’s panels dressed as the HR Pufnstuf character, Witchiepoo. He said that while San Diego Comic-Con has an emphasis on cosplay, Dragon Con is beyond anything he’s seen, calling it “a mind blower.”
He was clearly excited Atlanta welcomed him with open arms, remarking that the city felt like a second home.
In the 1960s, the Kroffts had a puppet presence in Six Flags theme parks around the country, and their experience running those shows led them to open The World of Sid and Marty Krofft in downtown Atlanta in the 70s. The venture was an indoor amusement park that immersed fans into the weird, wacky, and wonderful world of the Krofft’s characters.
While the park unfortunately closed five months after opening, the Kroffts were not deterred. And even all these years later, the team is still hard at work creating new content for fans of all ages.
In the last few years, the Kroffts produced a children’s show on Nickelodeon called Mutt and Stuff and have updated – don’t say rebooted! – some of their properties like Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (starring David Arquette) and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (starring Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart).
Although Krofft could neither confirm nor deny further upcoming projects, he was able to tease what’s on the horizon. Perhaps an exhibit with the Atlanta-based Center for Puppetry Arts? Or even a Broadway show? Time will tell. But what Krofft could announce was a partnership with streaming service Cineverse, where their entire catalog of shows will soon exclusively be housed.
“Deanna comes to me one morning and she says, ‘Look, Dad, when are we gonna put all of our stuff [online]? If we take everything we’ve ever done and put it on streaming, this will be something special,’” he said.
So they did.
“We [made] this deal, and now we’re spending a lot of money upgrading everything and cleaning up everything on all our shows. Three hundred episodes, hours and half-hours of television,” Krofft said.
The rollout will be in phases, with the majority of the library online in the first quarter of 2024, and the rest soon following.
“The kid’s shows [will be] first, and then the plan is to put out the Krofft primetime shows, which would be like Donnie and Marie, Barbara Mandrell, and those [next],” he said.
But despite a multi-decade career in show business, Krofft is hesitant to give advice to the next generation.
“You want to hear my advice? I don’t give advice,” he said with a laugh. “If I did give advice, I would tell them to pick another profession. I always tell people I’m gonna get a real job in my next life.”
Jokes notwithstanding, Krofft was willing to share a philosophy that has served him well through the course of his career.
“If somebody tells you to give this idea up that you really believe in, I say get rid of them. They have no business doing that,” he said. “Just never give up. I have a slogan that says, ‘If you give up on Tuesday, there is no Wednesday. And Wednesday could have been the day and you missed it by one day because you gave up.’”
Krofft is clearly excited for what the future holds and is honored by the legacy his family has created.
“My daughters have good values, and they are great people,” he said when discussing what he is most proud of. “My father left me with some thoughts to live by before he died: on your worst day, help somebody else. Helping other people is big. Work is only part of your life. At the end of the day, what counts is your family. My family and my daughters, that’s my best creation.”