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Shari Lewis
1933 - 1998

Shari Lewis (born Phyllis Naomi Hurwitz) was a Peabody winning American ventriloquist, puppeteer, children's entertainer, television show host, dancer, singer, actress, author, and symphony conductor. She famously created and performed the sock puppet Lamb Chop, for Captain Kangaroo in March 1956 and then continued on the early seasons (1957–1959) of Hi Mom, a local morning television show which aired on WRCA-TV in New York City. She had one sister, Barbara, who was nine years younger. Her parents encouraged her to perform and her father, who had been named New York City's "official magician" by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia during the Great Depression, taught her to perform specialized magic acts by the age of 13.

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She also received instruction in acrobatics, baton twirling, juggling, ice skating, piano, and violin. In 1952, Lewis and her puppetry won first prize on the CBS television series Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. She hosted several New York children's series through the decade. On July 5, 1953, Lewis made her television hosting debut on Facts N'Fun on NBC-owned WRCA-TV. The program was a variety show in which she engaged her viewers and studio audience members in games, hobbies, craft making, songs, stories, informational segments, interviews with guest performers and personalities. She also performed witty comedy skits with two ventriloquist's dummies, Samson and Taffy Twinkle. The one-hour show remained on the air until September 26, 1953.

She moved to WPIX in 1953 to replace Ted Steele as host of Kartoon Klub, which featured a variety format with a live studio audience. Lewis performed with Randy Rocket and Taffy Twinkle, and the program also featured reruns of Crusader Rabbit cartoons. Lewis won New York-area Emmy Awards for her work on Shariland and a succeeding series on WRCA-TV, Hi Mom (1957–1959), which introduced Charlie Horse, Hush Puppy, and Wing Ding. Lamb Chop, also appearing, had previously been introduced during Lewis's guest appearance on Captain Kangaroo in March 1956. NBC gave Lewis her first network program, The Shari Lewis Show, which debuted on October 1, 1960, replacing The Howdy Doody Show. The show ran until September 28, 1963. Lamb Chop, which was little more than a sock with eyes, served as a sassy alter-ego for Lewis.

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In 1961, she played title character Dulie Hudson in Watching Out for Dulie, a United States Steel Hour production. She occasionally guest-starred in TV shows such as Car 54, Where Are You?The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Love, American Style. From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, she appeared in a number of British shows, such as the Val Doonican Show and the Royal Variety Performance. The faith-based video Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah was released in 1996 and received the Parents' Choice Award of the year. She wrote many books and produced 17 home videos. Lewis's other work included providing the voice of Princess Nida in the cartoon segment Arabian Knights, part of the 1968 series The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.

With her husband, Jeremy Tarcher, she co-wrote an episode for the original series of Star Trek, "The Lights of Zetar" (1969). Lewis wrote over 60 books for children. Lewis kept her surname from her first marriage to Stan Lewis (1932-1958). Her second husband was publisher Jeremy Tarcher (1932–2015). Lewis met Tarcher on the set of a radio show; they married a year later. They had a daughter, Mallory Tarcher. Mallory Tarcher wrote for the shows Lamb Chop's Play-Along and The Charlie Horse Music Pizza. She legally changed her last name to Lewis and took over her mother's work with Lamb Chop in 2000. Prior to her death, Shari Lewis sold the rights to Lamb Chop to DreamWorks (now part of NBCUniversal).

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Her daughter Mallory still owns the live performing rights to the Lamb Chop character. Lewis was treated for breast cancer in 1984. In June 1998, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She had a hysterectomy, but her doctors informed her that the cancer was inoperable and she was given six weeks to live. After recovering from the hysterectomy, she began chemotherapy at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. While undergoing chemotherapy, she developed viral pneumonia and died on the evening of August 2, 1998, at the age of 65.  A private funeral was held, and a public memorial was planned. The last episode of The Charlie Horse Music Pizza aired on January 17, 1999, on what would have been her 66th birthday.

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