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The Shari Lewis Show, Lamb Chop's Play-Along

PHOTO: Shari Lewis and Lambchop -CP
Shari 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 college professor, 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.  Shari Lewis, author, musician and puppeteer extraordinaire 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, very much 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 remembered."

"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
New York's 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 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, 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 said.
 "Those things attract attention, but I don't think that's what our children should be exposed to."
Having authored 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 friends."

 the genius that was Shari Lewis's never ends!
It lives on through her books,
countless television appearances and films
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, Mallory Tarcher,
we stand right next to Lamb Chop,
Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy,
and give our grateful thanks for all you have given us!

Affectionately, yours
 Grampaw Sunnie
August 8, 2003

Lewis won  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 Chop 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
with open arms and happy hearts!

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