H.R. Pufnstuf Blew into Town on This Day in 1969

H.R. PUFNSTUF, Jack Wild (playing Freddie the Magic Flute), H.R. Pufnstuf, (1969), 1969-70
Mario Casilli/TV Guide/Everett Collection

It was on September 6, 1969, that the fever dream H.R. Pufnstuf first premiered on our television screens, brought to us by the Krofft brothers. Sid and Marty wanted to create a television show based on a children’s stage show they created featuring a dragon named Luther. While they originally wanted the show to be called Luther Land, NBC didn’t like the name and it eventually became H.R. Pufnstuf, inspired by the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.” H.R. refers to “royal highness” but backward.

There were not only dragons, but witches, and other mystical creatures in the kid’s show. In addition to having the most fun name of all TV witches, Wilhelmina Whack Witchiepoo (portrayed by the late Billie Hayes) was also quite the unlikable villain. The main antagonist on the 1969-70 TV series, Witchiepoo’s primary concern in life was stealing a magical flute named Freddy from the protagonist, Jimmy.

H.R. PUFNSTUF, Billie Hayes, H.R. Pufnstuf, Jack Wild, 1969-71

Everett Collection

With minions and powers out the wazoo, Witchiepoo enjoyed torturing all the inhabitants of Living Island, and it was her boat that tricked Jimmy into leaving the real world and arriving in this magical land. After that, she made it her full-time job to keep Jimmy on the island, partially because he was in possession of the flute she so desired. When she wasn’t piloting her Vroom Broom, Witchiepoo often disguised herself in various costumes to trick Jimmy. But Jimmy had childhood innocence and a kindly dragon on his side, so Witchiepoo was never quite successful in her efforts. It was a classic battle of good vs. evil.

While the show only lasted one season, it truly became a cult classic. It wasn’t that the show wasn’t successful, it was, but it was very expensive and became too much for the Kroffts to continue to produce. So, they had to end their beloved show. However, Pufnstuf the character came back to make appearances in other shows such as Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and The George Lopez Show.

H.R. PUFNSTUF, H.R. Pufnstuf, Jack Wild (holding Freddie the Magic Flute), 1969-70

Everett Collection

Who was your favorite character on H.R. Pufnstuf? Do you wish it could have continued airing other seasons?

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Kid Stuff

June 2018

Unleash your inner child by reliving your favorite kids TV shows, cartoons, toys and more!

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