The Shari Lewis Show,
Lamb Chop's Play-Along
PHOTO: Shari Lewis and Lambchop -CP
Lewis was born to make music and magic,
it was just in her blood you might say!
Her mother, a teacher and pianist
was a music coordinator
for the New York City Board of Education.
She began teaching her little girl piano
at the tender age of two.
Her father, a
known as the "official magician" of New York City
began teaching her magic
at an early age as well.
In fact it is he, grandfather to Lamb Chop, who taught her how to talk
for all the little people she would later create,
encouraging her ventriloqy.
Lewis, author, musician
brought her considerable talents
to children's entertainment
for over fifty years.
Using her ability as a ventriloquist
to give voice
to her adorable hand puppet creations,
Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy
and Charlie Horse,
this little lady with the big heart, bright eyes
and shimmering red hair,
enchanted young and old alike!
Reflecting a magic that was so,
her own golden spirit
smiling back at us
through little cloth faces,
she breathed life into these little childlike critters
who in turn,
breathed their life into us!
Regrettably the world lost this talented performer
to uterine cancer in August of 1998.
On August third, of that year, she passed away
at Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles California
and the world lost, in my estimation one of the greatest ventriloquists and
storytellers of all time!
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 stardom. 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 entrepreneurial skills.
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. The program was colorfully described by Shari Lewis as "an
anti-couch potato show." It 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 has been married
for more than 30 years to book publisher Jeremy Tarcher. (People Weekly 10/19/92
p. 154-56). 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. 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
"6-year-old girl, very intuitive and very feisty, a combination of obstinacy and
vulnerability....you know how they say fools rush in where wise men fear to go?
Well, Lamb Chop would rush in, then scream for help." In the 1980s Shari Lewis
created a video featuring Lamb Chop called "Have I got a Story For You" about
the art of teaching and telling stories.
well so could Shari!
It certainly is no wonder this talented and inspired young girl became
interested in studying dance, ballet and acting. A young girl with so,
many creative abilities she had no difficulty getting accepted at
celebrated High School of Music and Art.
Her studies then would form the foundation
of her illustrious career for over five decades yet to come.
Just as appearing on the Broadway stage
in several musicals early in her career
would set the stage literally for she and her famous friend,
Lamb Chop to take center stage
in Lamb Chop on Broadway some years later.
Shari Lewis 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 in 1953.
She 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. Greenjeans (Hugh Brannum) on the nationally televised CBS children's program
CAPTAIN KANGAROO. Then later she 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 handpuppets, 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
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, she
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).
"There's an unnecessary coarsening of children's shows that feature characters
that constantly pass wind and mean-spirited and hostile relationships," she
"Those things attract attention, but I don't think that's what our children
should be exposed to."
60 children's books, 15 of them, One Minute Bedtime stories, numerous audio cassettes and 24
home videos, including the very popular "Shari's Christmas Concert" it is easy
to see like this song,
"This is the song that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends. Somebody
started singing it not knowing what it was. And they'll continue singing it
forever just because this is the song that never ends. It just goes on and on my
the genius that was
Shari Lewis's never ends!
It lives on through her books,
countless television appearances
and most importantly
in the hearts and minds of those
who listened to her stories,
sang along with all her songs,
and delighted in the sheer magic
that was she!
We love You Shari,
and like your husband of thirty years,
publisher Jeremy Tarcher
and your daughter,
puppeteer, author and producer,
right next to
Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy,
and give our grateful thanks for all you have given us!
August 8, 2003
a total of 12 Emmys, five alone for her PBS series,
“Lamb Chop’s Play-Along.”
A winner of countless awards, earning a Peabody Award, the Action for children's
television award, several Parents’ Choice Awards and was honored with the John
F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity, as well!
In 1997, Shari Lewis Enterprises Inc. the John
F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity Miss Lewis through her PBS show,
Lamb Chop's Play-Along, invited children
to learn right along with the spunky little lamb.
By encouraging kids to do more than watch, she inspired their creativity and
helped them to learn. The series alone won five consecutive Emmys for Shari as
"outstanding performer in a children's series" and in 1993 she
and her daughter, Mallory Tarcher shared the Emmy
for outstanding writing. This award marked the first time in Emmy history, a
mother and daughter had shared the award. Mallory Tarcher who produced and wrote the show with her
making them the first
mother/daughter team to share an Emmy.
Mallory, 33, has a remarkable ability to duplicate her mother's voice when
she brings Lamb Chop to life. Her decision to keep Lamb Chop going for a new
generation of kids came last year, when friend Dom DeLuise was over for dinner.
"I brought Lamb Chop out. She has her own strength and personality," Mallory
recalls. "She's very comfortable for me. I hate to say I'm channeling my mother.
This voice just came through me." She and DeLuise cried.
In fact it is daughter Mallory who is carrying the legacy on
and bringing Lamb
out of retirement.
"My mom was one of the world's greatest entertainers.
I don't want to challenge
that. I don't think it's wise to go there.
But I do want to do everything I can
for Lamb Chop.
I'll help keep her going."
We all look forward to this Mallory
and greet you and Lamb Chop
and happy hearts!
if you enjoy puppet theater
and would like to go Backstage.
A Brief History of
Puppets to Make,
Plays to do
If you like Puppetry
you will enjoy these Poems about Puppets and Puppetry:
The Revolt Of The Puppets
The two ventriloquist dummies,
in my Puppet Chest,
Jimbo "Scooter" Blaze and Professor, "Colonel Krusty" Professor Potamus