One day a young British boy named Jimmy was out playing his magical flute, which was named Freddie, when at the shore he came upon a colorful boat that beckoned him out to see for fun and adventures. The boat turned out to be a trap set by a witch named Witchiepoo, who was a citizen of the myserious Living Island, on which nearly everything - even trees, buildings, and the wind - were alive. Witchiepoo collected magical treasures, and she coveted Freddie for her own. Before he could be captured, Jimmy jumped into the water with his flute - and landed upon the mystical island's shore. Regaining consciousness on a stretch of beach, Jimmy found himself face-to-face with the island's mayor, a dragon in a cowboy outfit named H.R. Pufnstuf. Every week, Jimmy attempted to find a way to get off the island and back home, while foiling the schemes of Witchiepoo and her henchmen, Orson, Seymour, and Stupid Bat.
H.R. Pufnstuf was the first television production for the team of Sid and Marty Krofft; they would go on to produce sixteen more shows which would run on Saturday mornings and in primetime. Pufnstuf remains one of their most fondly-remembered shows; not only for the colorful characters and wacky situations, but also for the fact that the entire concept behind the show seemed to have influenced by drug use. While no overt references to marijuana, LSD, or other similar substances can be found within the program, the show as a whole seems to remind people of an acid trip - or at least, what they think an acid trip should be like. Intentional or not, the show appeared at the height of post-Woodstock psychedelia and was embraced by hippie culture as much as by uncomprehending children. (A wickedly funny parody appeared in a skit on HBO's Mr. Show called "Drugachusetts.")
Only seventeen original episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf were produced; its second year consisted only of reruns. The show must have retained its popularity, however, as it returned on another network, ABC, continued running it for two years. A feature film, Pufnstuf, was produced in 1970; it featured appearances by Martha Raye (who would soon resurface on the Kroffts' Bugaloos) and Cass Elliott, of the musical group The Mamas and the Papas.
In early 1971, McDonald's restaurants began airing commercials featuring mascot Ronald McDonald in a magical world called McDonaldland which bore some striking similarities to Living Island from Pufnstuf: various inanimate objects had personalities and talked; the original Grimace had six arms and resembled Witchipoo's henchman Seymour a little too closely; Mayor McCheese himself was very closely too related to Pufnstuf; etc. Oh, and also the ad agency producing the spots had hired ex-Krofft employees to build costumes and sets, and even used some of the same voice talent used on the show. The Kroffts sued and won.
Jimmy - Jack Wild
H.R. Pufnstuf (pantomime) - Roberto Gamonet
H.R. Pufnstuf (voice) - Lennie Weinrib
Witchiepoo - Billie Hayes
Shirley Pufnstuf / Judy the Frog / Lady Boyd - Sharon Baird
Orson / Cling - Joy Campbell
Seymour / Clang - Angelo Rossitto
Freddie the Flute - Joan Gerber
Other voices: Lennie Weinrib, Walker Edmiston
The Magic Path
The Wheely Bird
Show Biz Witch
The Mechanical Box
The Golden Key
The Birthday Party
The Box Kite Kaper
You Can't Have Your Cake
Horse with the Golden Throat
Dinner for Two
Book, Flute, and Candle
Tooth for a Tooth
The Visiting Witch
The Almost Election of Witchiepoo
Whaddya Mean the Horse Gets the Girl?