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Shari Lewis

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Birthday: Jan 17, 1933

Birthplace: New York, New York, USA

From Howdy Doody to Beanie & Cecil to H.R. Pufnstuff to Kermit the Frog, the history of children's television has been peppered with beloved puppets and their masters. Though lacking in the sophistication and elaborate flash of many of her peers, ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her feisty sock puppet Lamb Chop reigned supreme as the queen and princess of modern puppetry. Though adults loved the playful, peppery exchanges between Lewis and her wooly alter ego, her primary appeal was to children and it was as a teacher that Lewis made her greatest impact. Her awards included 12 Emmys, a Peabody, and seven Parents' Choice Awards. The New York City native was raised amidst culture and Lewis herself had many more talents than belly talking. Lewis' mother began teaching her piano when she was two, while her father taught her ventriloquism and a few magic tricks. As a teen, she attended the city's prestigious High School of Music and Art, where she studied piano, violin, music theory, and orchestration. She learned to dance at the School of American Ballet and honed her acting skills at the Neighborhood Playhouse. She made her first television appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout and won.Lewis and Lamb Chop, as a team, made their television debut on a 1957 episode of Captain Kangaroo. The diminutive redhead and her simple puppet were instant hits with both children and their parents, and within a few months Lewis was hosting her first children's program, simply titled The Shari Lewis Show. Though it featured other Lewis-created creatures, Lamb Chop was the undisputed star. As an entertainer, Lewis was also a talented dancer, musician, singer, and the author of 30 books. Her first show ran between 1960 and 1963, but due to the increasing popularity of televised cartoons, it was cancelled. In many episodes, the mischievous Lamb Chop would get herself into a fix that would culminate with a lesson reinforced by Lewis with a gentle discussion or a song. Lewis believed that children achieved self-esteem through positive actions. Whereas cartoons by their nature promoted passive viewing, Lewis tried to encourage a form of interaction between herself and young viewers. Shows always offered some kind of activity. Years later, she took the next step and made several interactive CD-Roms. After her show folded, Lewis made a few appearances in Las Vegas and also appeared on many game shows. She also made a name for herself as a symphony conductor and played with orchestras the world over. In 1968, Lewis again hosted her own show, this time for the British Broadcasting Corporation and stayed on the air through 1976. She would not return to American television until 1992, when she created and starred in Lamb Chop's Play-Along for the PBS network. Five of her Emmy awards were given to Lewis for her work on this program. In addition to performing, she was passionately involved as a member on the National Board of the Girl Scouts and the International Board of the Boy Scouts. She was on the Board of the International Reading Association. Other awards received by Lewis include the John F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity and the Action for Children's Television Award. In the spring of 1993, she accepted an honorary doctorate in education from New York state's Hofstra University. In 1998, Lewis was working on her latest children's series for PBS, The Charlie Horse Music Pizza when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had to stop production to undergo chemotherapy. Unfortunately, six weeks into treatment, Lewis contracted pneumonia and passed away. She was 65. She is survived by her husband of 40 years, publisher Jerry Tarcher.



No Score Yet One-Minute Bible Stories: New Testament Producer Storyteller 1985
No Score Yet Shari Lewis: You Can Do It Actor 1984
No Score Yet Shari's Christmas Concert Actor 1981
No Score Yet Shari Lewis - Christmas Actor 1960


80% Star Trek
Screenwriter 1969
100% The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Janet 1966


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