1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 1 (USA)
17 x 30 minute episodes
Between 1969 and 1977, Sid and Marty Krofft produced seventeen live-action series for their own production company – spanning from Saturday morning children’s shows to prime-time variety programmes – and in doing so, left an indelible impression on an entire generation.
One of the most fondly remembered was a story about a boy, a magic flute, a witch, and a big orange mayor.
H.R. Pufnstuf began with young English boy Jimmy (Jack Wild), out playing his magic flute called “Freddie” (or “Fweddie” as Jimmy called him). While at the edge of the river Jimmy climbs aboard a boat that beckons to him.
Once upon a summertime, Just a dream from yesterday,
A boy and his magic golden flute
heard a boat from off the bay,
“Come and play with me, Jimmy – come and play with me and I will take you on a trip far across the sea”
As it drifts out to sea, an evil witch named Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) – seeking Freddie to add to her collection of magical possessions – casts a spell and makes the boat turn into an evil boat which attacks Jimmy, who then jumps overboard to save himself.
Jimmy and his magic flute wash up on the beach of an enchanted isle, unconscious.
The boy is promptly rescued by the local mayor, H.R. Pufnstuf – a giant orange and green cowboy/dragon – and his Rescue Ranger crew – made up of two mute and inept dwarves named Kling and Klang.
Jimmy and Freddie the Flute (voiced by Joan Gerber) now find themselves stranded on Living Island, where everything is alive with its own personality: Books had faces, houses sneezed, trees could talk, and money was measured in buttons.
The citizens of Living Island all looked like an animal of some sort. Dr Blinky was an Owl, Ludicrous Lion was a Lion, and Judy Frog was . . . well, you work it out.
Each week, the evil Witchiepoo would hatch a plan to steal Freddie from Jimmy and keep them both trapped on Living Island.
She was assisted in her wicked plans by her goofy henchmen – vulture Orson, hapless orange spider Seymour, and the aptly named Stupid Bat – and her motorised broomstick called the Vroom Broom.
Seventeen 30-minute episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf were produced, most featuring original compositions sung by the talented cast.
Among the more memorable tunes were I’m a Mechanical Boy, Oranges-Poranges, and The Pronoun Song.
In 1970, the Kroffts released a major motion picture based on the TV series, titled simply Pufnstuf. The film featured all of the original cast, with some very campy guest appearances by Martha Raye and Billy Barty.
The Head Witch was played by Mama Cass who performed a show-stopping number (Different) at the Witches’ Convention.
Marty Krofft died in Los Angeles on 25 November 2023 of kidney failure. He was 86.
Freddie the Flute
Lennie Weinrib (voice)
Roberto Gamonet (suit)
Judy the Frog
The Magic Path | The Wheeley Bird | The Mechanical Boy | Show Biz Witch | Box Kite Paper | The Golden Key | The Birthday Party | The Horse With The Golden Throat | The Stand-In | Flute, Book and Candle | Dinner For Two Please Orson | You Can’t Have Your Cake | A Tooth For A Tooth | The Visiting Witch | The Almost Election of Mayor Witchepoo | Whaddya Mean The Horse Gets The Girl? | Jimmy Who?