|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 programs, and in doing so left an indelible impression on an entire generation. One of the mostly fondly remembered was a story about a boy, a magic flute, a witch, and a big orange mayor.
“Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
A boy and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay.”
H.R. Pufnstuf began when young English boy Jimmy, out playing his flute Freddie, was beckoned out to sea in a colorful boat bound for Living Island. As it drifted toward the island, the boat turned out to be a trap set by the evil Witchiepoo, who wanted to add Freddie to her collection of magical belongings.
Jimmy narrowly escaped his fate by jumping overboard, only to wash up on the beach of an enchanted isle, unconscious. The boy was promptly rescued by the local mayor, H.R. Pufnstuf, a giant orange and green cowboy/dragon. Jimmy and Freddie the Flute found themselves stranded on Living Island, where everything was alive with its own personality: books, candles, and mushrooms all talked, some houses had hay fever, and money was measured in buttons.
“Alarm, alarm, Witchiepoo is coming, Witchiepoo is coming!”
Each week, the evil Witchiepoo, along with her henchmen-vulture Orson, hapless orange spider Seymour, and the aptly named Stupid Bat-would hatch a plan to steal Freddie from Jimmy and keep them both trapped on Living Island.
“You’ve got someone who loves you
You’ve got someone who cares
You’ve got someone to fix you up
If ever you need a repair…”
Seventeen thirty-minute episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf were produced, most featuring original compositions sung by the talented cast, which included Billie Hayes, Jack Wild, and a host of Krofft regulars. Among the more memorable tunes were “I’m a Mechanical Boy,” “Oranges-Poranges,” and “The Pronoun Song” (“…but ‘ours’ is the nicest word of all!”)
“We can’t tell you how it all turns out
But if there’s any doubt
You’d better stick around…baby!”
Other memorable characters included Pufnstuf’s deputies Cling and Clang, sister Shirley Pufnstuf, Lady Boyd, Judy Frog, and Ludicrous Lion (“Buttons, buttons, who’s got the buttons?”)
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, Mama Cass, and Billy Barty.
He's your friend when things get rough,
Can't do a little 'cause you can't do enough."