At 84, Marty Krofft (of Sid & Marty Krofft) refuses to quit. After co-founding one of the only family show businesses to stay around after 50 years, Krofft’s company is planning new projects and his YouTube videos “Mondays with Marty,” are not be missed.
Recently honored along with his brother, Sid, with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Krofft brothers also received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honor of their company’s 50th anniversary. The shows they created were Saturday morning staples for children everywhere, including “Land of the Lost,” Lidsville,” “The Bugalos,” “Electro Woman & Dyna Girl,” “Far Out Space Nuts,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” as well as “H.R. Pufnstuf.” Their programming was equally as popular with adults, including “The Donny & Marie Show, “The Barbara Mandrell Show,” “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour” and the political satire “D.C. Follies.”
Krofft sat down with Moviehole to talk about the early days of the business, being surrounded by the late Betty White’s dogs, and how the Krofft shows inspired an entire generation to go into show business.
Moviehole: How did the “Mondays with Marty” YouTube videos get started?
Marty Krofft: I wanted to just do a short video every Monday talking about the reality about what went on with Sid and Marty Krofft. We’ve been in business 50 years and we are the only company left in the kid’s business, all the others went out of business. I only had two weeks off the whole time because I got sick, and I probably cast everyone; Martha Raye, Mama Cass, Jack Wild, Jim Henson. When “Land of the Lost” got picked up originally and “Star Trek” got canceled, we got a writer to come over, so that show lives on.
One of my main things was creatively running the company and keeping us alive and keeping us independent — I should be in the Guinness book of records. I have three daughters, one runs the place, and there are some real interesting things right now that I can’t talk about, they are with major companies, very major. That’s why I guess everyone calls me a legend except my daughters. One of my daughters is a writer and actress, Christina, and my founding daughter Deanna, has been with me since she was sixteen. We have never copied anybody else, we own everything we’ve done.
I come to work every day, I’m the first one in and the last one out. So Mondays with me, I’m trying to do everything I can to show clips of everything; like when Jack Wild got the Oscar nomination, I was his guardian and he stayed in my house, he was a good find. “Oliver!” got 11 Academy Awards, it was a big movie. We did a lot of different things, we did the Dean Martin TV series, we created the Chuck E. Cheese characters, we built them; the owner asked do you want $100,000 or a piece and I said, “this isn’t going to last, I’ll take the money.” We worked with Continental Airlines, Delorean, we’re a creative company and we’ve survived so far.
I have a guy named Robb Killen who is an expert in memorabilia, he knows more about my company than me and he’s been editing things; we’re working on something with “Pufnstuff” — that’s probably why our show is alive, because we still do interesting things. I could stop in NYC Times Square and people could still sing me theme songs from five shows. It’s about having a new beginning and suiting up and showing up.
In Australia we have some successes, we had VHS videos when they just had cable, we sold about a million VHS videos. We had a show nominated in the UK, starring Bruce Dern and Ann Margaret. I spent $80 thousand on a trip to Cannes and went to Hotel du Cap, I make friends with everyone — housekeepers, concierges, I had a friend called Johnny Gold at Tramp. I spent time in London, and mostly in the South of France.
Moviehole: You knew Betty White and Bob Saget, what are your memories of them?
MK: With Betty White, I used to see her on the studio lot and she worked for me on “DC Follies,” so I went to Betty’s house to rehearse. When I knocked on the front door it sounded like there were a hundred dogs barking inside. When she opened the door, I asked her if any of them would bite, and she laughed and said, “They all bite!” With Bob Saget, he was a young guy, very talented and a very nice guy, very likeable.
Moviehole: How did you and Sid come up with ideas for so many shows?
MK: We had a lot of nightmares (laughs), we just are good at it. We’ve done some incredible shows like “H.R. Pufnstuff,” and it’s all being remade, not reboots — reboots are a problem trying to recreate them, you can’t get the original cast like for “Land of Lost.” I think people care about some of our shows more than others.
It takes forever to make the deals. We are working on a film which is very interesting, two other films that are here and one that is not in L.A., that’s a handful for me; we are small, the pandemic has buried us, and we don’t have a studio where we have all this product, so we are very limited. Most of our stuff has come from within, not from the outside.
Moviehole: What would you advise newbies trying to break into the entertainment industry?
MK: Newbies, get on the 101 Freeway (Los Angeles) to Pittsburgh and never come back, get the hell out of this business, buy a coal mine. But you gotta do it. Get a real job!
Moviehole: Why do you think your shows were so successful?
MK: Most of those shows were on only three networks, so every kid saw at least something of ours — now as adults we probably have 40 million fans that are dedicated to whatever we did. And all the sets and things we had, who knew they would be valuable, we threw a lot of things away, but we still have some great things in our warehouses.
Moviehole: What do you think of kids shows or family shows now?
MK: There are too many to focus on, and they’re mostly animation. We will be doing our first animated show, there is a lot of stuff out there, it’s different, with likeable characters and likeable stories, we have 15 properties that are somewhat valuable. We have a big following in Australia and New Zealand, we were in Germany with “Land of the Lost” for five years, we were in 85 countries for years, so they must have liked us.
Moviehole: What do people on the street tell you about how your shows affected them as children?
MK: Many of them said they wouldn’t be in entertainment business if it weren’t for us.
Moviehole: Would you do anything differently today?
MK: It’s hard to look back, it’s finished. If you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him what your plans are. The moment is where it’s at. You never know how something is going to work. Creating something is the biggest part.
My father said, “Never give up, if you give up on a Tuesday, Wednesday could’ve been the day.” I talked to Richard Pryor, and he said to the New York Times, “You’re better off telling Marty Kroft yes and get him the hell out of your office!”
The company has also just launched THE KROFFT SHOP at https://shop.bandwear.com/collections/sid-marty-krofft-shop