Lewis - Popular ventriloquist, actress, author, and conductor
who won nine Emmy Awards over five decades with
her hand puppet Lamb Chop and others puppet
Shari Lewis "the puppeteer to the baby boomers" was once
described as having "childlike excitement, an entertainers savvy and
a librarian's heart." She began her career by winning three
appearances on ARTHUR GODFREY'S TALENTS SCOUTS radio program in
1952, and followed that success by starring in KARTOON CLUB on WRCA-TV
Set in the fairy town of Kartoonia, host Shari Lewis
interacted with Taffy Twinkle, a girl puppet (a redecorated turn of
the century "Willie Talk" doll); Randy Rocket, an outer space dummy
that she taught the ways of the Earth; and Pip Squeak, a
rubber-faced monkey who never spoke. Shari later appeared on her own
local New York program SHARI AND HER FRIENDS in 1954.
Her big break
came in 1956 when she appeared as the niece of Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh
Brannum) on the nationally televised CBS children's program CAPTAIN
She later starred on SHARILAND (1957), a Saturday
morning puppet program with Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse and Wing Ding,
a bird made of jersey cloth, sponge rubber and other parts. Shari's
hand puppets, Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse became her
most popular characters.
Lamb Chop was a shy, soft-spoken fleecy
little lamb about 6-years-old with a penchant for mischief and
wisecracks; Charlie Horse was a cocky, bucktoothed 10-year-old; and
Hush Puppy was a sweet 7-year-old Mortimer Snerd-like country cousin
of Lamb Chop.
When THE HOWDY DOODY SHOW was canceled in 1960, Shari
Lewis replaced that popular children's program with her own
30-minute series THE SHARI LEWIS SHOW/NBC/1960-63 that featured Lamb
Chop, Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse, Mr. Goodfellow (Ronald Radd) and
Jump Pup (Jackie Warner).
Some 15 years later, Shari starred on THE
SHARI LEWIS SHOW/NBC/SYN/1975-77, a 30-minute takeoff of THE MARY
TYLER MOORE SHOW with pro-social storylines with a staff of
twenty-five animal puppets including Lamb Chop and a kangaroo named
Captain Person who worked for Bearly Broadcasting Studios (BBS).
Shari Lewis began ventriloquism at the age of eleven by playing with
dolls and puppets around the house. According to Shari Lewis, her
puppet Lamb Chop was born when her father, Dr. Abraham B. Hurwitz (a
professor of education at Yeshiva University and an accomplished
magician) said "If Mary had a little lamb, why not Shari?" By
practicing at home in front of a mirror, Shari improvised her way to
Shari's talents inspired her to write a number of books
including her first book "The Shari Lewis Puppet Book" (Citadel Press,
1958); and a series of thirty-six "Kids Only Club" books commissioned
by Holt Rinehart & Winston in 1979 that taught kids crafts and
Shari has also produced the videos Have I
Got a Story for You; 101 Things For Kids To Do; and a CD entitled
Lamb Chop in the Land of No Manners (A & M Video).
In the 1990s,
Shari Lewis hosted the Emmy Award winning children's series LAMB
CHOP'S PLAY-ALONG/PBS/1992, a half-hour interactive show that
encouraged children to participate by acting out stories, songs,
stunts, games and activities.
This is the song that doesn't end
Yes it goes on and on my friend
Some people started singing it
Not knowing what it was
And they'll continue
Singing it forever
This is the song that doesn't end
Yes it goes on and on my friend ...
by Shari Lewis as "an anti-couch potato show," the program featured three
kids, Amanda McAdams, Brian Ito and Sabrina Sanchez who shared in
the show's fun and introduced Baby Lamb Chop, who appeared in
flashbacks about Lamb Chop as a child.
Shari Lewis died on August 2, 1998.
Parent's concerned over how to discuss her death with children were
advised to say that Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse's mommy had died and
that they could send letters expressing their grief to her family.
Shari Lewis was married
for more than 30 years to book publisher Jeremy Tarcher. (People
Weekly 10/19/92 p. 154-56).
Before Shari's death she reported to work for the PBS series
entitled THE CHARLIE HORSE MUSIC PIZZA that taught music
appreciation to young kids at home. Shari's daughter Mallory Tarcher
who shared in the writing as a creative consultant with Shari Lewis
Enterprises eulogized her mom saying "As long as there are parents
and children and VCRs, Shari Lewis will always be remembered."
TRIVIA NOTE: In the 1960s, Shari Lewis
and her husband, publisher Jeremy Tarcher, wrote episode No. 73
"Lights of Zetar" for the sci-fi series STAR TREK/NBC/1966-69 (an
Enterprise crew member's body is taken over by mysterious energy
life-forms on planetoid Memory Alpha) See also -
SHEEP: "Lamb Chop"
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