other TV puppets

Grumpy Before Land of the Lost.

dinosaur_land_lost2

Grumpy, left, and Big Alice square off in "Land of the Lost".

Did you know that before he was a regular performer on the classic 1970’s show Land of the Lost, Grumpy the Tyrannosaurus and some of his dino co-stars were in an  film entitled Dinosaurs, The Terrible Lizards? They were created by Wah Chang for this  short educational film in 1970.The film was animated by Doug Beswick ,who went on to animate (with Phil Tippett) the chess scene in STAR WARS.

The dinosaur who would later rise to stardom as Grumpy gets a good poke from a Styracosaurus.

The dinosaur who would later rise to stardom as Grumpy gets a good poke from a Styracosaurus. Image scanned from slides by Jim Aupperle.

Here’s the film. Grumpy and the gang show up about halfway through. If you’re a fan of LOTL, you will probably recognize Emily and Spot as well.

I also found info on the Grumpy hand puppet used in close-ups:

Lot 717 in an online auction (unknown date)

Lot 717 in an online auction (unknown date).

The description in the auction reads: “Grumpy” figure puppet from Land of the Lost, as seen in the opening credits of the show. (CBS-TV, 1974-77) Original hand puppet from the series, seen in the opening credits and used for close ups. The puppet is very finely detailed, with realistic teeth, eyes and mouth, and was filmed from the torso up as required. The figure has been filled with polyfoam to keep its shape, and is mounted on a custom base and housed in a Lexan display case. Measures 22 in. tall. Originally sold at the Sid & Marty Krofft auction in 1998 (lot #22). A fantastic original screen-used puppet, used in every episode!

The Grumpy puppet in action.

The Grumpy puppet in action.

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The Lost Henson/Tillstrom Plaques

These plaques used to be prominently displayed at Disney’s MGM(Now “Hollywood”)Studios in Orlando, Florida. The plaques, featuring Burr Tillstrom(“Kukla, Fran & Ollie”) and Jim Henson (The Muppets), were in a small courtyard that also displayed busts of many famous TV stars. I have no idea why the plaques are now gone, or if they have even been relocated. I’m just glad I got a photo of them while I could.

This photo was taken on our honeymoon; I’m pretty sure of it.I’m a lot thinner!

The Letter People–Mr. H and his Horrible Hair

Mr. H was my favorite of The Letter People.

How to describe The Letter People, exactly? Well, it was a show on public television, created in the 70’s, and featured extremely primitive, low-budget-looking puppets with great variety in character but were rather frightening in appearance.Each letter of the alphabet was represented by a unique character with traits derived from its letter. The consonants were male, and the vowels were female.Each of the 60 episodes revolved around meeting a particular Letter Person or combining two Letter People together to make a sound, like “CH” or “OU”.The Letter People lived in Letter People Land,which was a kind of dark and featureless place, and they had many adventures and conflicts, always ending with we kids learning about a new letter or sound.
Although I have not been able to find any information confirming my theory, I’m quite certain that, to get a lot of different and unique voices for the Letter People puppets,pre-recorded songs and scripts, using voice actors,were played on the set while the puppeteers filmed their scenes. The lip sync is terrible and I’m not sure if it’s from the performers not being able to memorize the pre-recorded dialogue quickly enough, or if they were simply shoddy puppeteers.

Theme song:

Come and meet the Letter People.
Come and visit the family.
Words are made of Letter People.
A-B-C-D, follow me!

When the show was updated in the 1990’s, Mr. H’s “horrible hair” was changed to the more politically correct “happy hair”, which I find rather stupid. Mr. H. still rocked.