When I’m shaving, I’m working,” says Sid Krofft, 52. “I make my own granola breakfast and sit on the floor upstairs and watch the sun come up. At night I watch the sun set. I’m creating.”
Marty Krofft, 37, says, “I am the guy who makes the decisions where the company is going. The yeses and noes come from me. I’m not afraid to let somebody else be creative.”
That combination—Mr. Dreamer and Mr. Hard Nose—has turned the Krofft brothers into an entertainment industry expected to gross over $20 million this year. “We’ve got the imagination and desire Disney had 20 years ago,” Sid and Marty boast.
Their offerings range from Saturday morning TV kiddie shows (Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost, Far-Out Space Nuts) and ABC’s prime-time Donny & Marie show to amusement park rides which they design.
Their biggest spectacular to date is an eight-story indoor amusement park, the World of Sid and Marty Krofft, which opened last spring in Atlanta’s Omni International complex. “It is the realization of all our dreams,” say the brothers, who have filled their $14 million park with a noisy midway of live vaudeville acts and rides. They include a simulated fall down a mine shaft and a gigantic pinball machine in which the passengers ride inside six-foot balls, banging around among lights and flippers.
“I’m always looking for specjal shocking things,” says Sid. Not long ago he found a snake charmer with a 125-pound Indian rock python. Marty was appalled: “People are afraid of snakes.” Sid replied: “But Marty, she can lie on a bed of nails, too.” (The act was hired.)
In the entertainment business, the Kroffts, whose Greek forebears were puppeteers, have a reputation for the bizarre. The two brothers joined forces in 1960 to stage Les Poupées de Paris, a gently risqué show featuring scantily clad puppets, which played the New York and Seattle world’s fairs.
The Kroffts’ flair for fantasy has proved a natural for TV. Their H.R. Pufnstuf—a million-dollar puppet show about an island ruled by a friendly dragon—was praised for its nonviolent format in 1969, and still lives on through reruns. The brothers maintain a permanent staff of 50 at their factory in North Hollywood. Their newest project: a 90-minute, live-action Saturday morning series, Krofft Supershow, featuring such characters as Electra Woman and Wonderbug.
All this creativity is not without family friction. Sid avoids the office sometimes, preferring to sit in his hilltop Los Angeles house and wait for ideas to pop into his head. This annoys Marty, who says, “If he had to get this act together, we’d still be in the garage.” Sid replies: “I like to trade on the happy moments in life.” His idea for Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, for example, came while surfing in La Jolla. He spotted a 50-foot strand of seaweed. “It had gone out with the tide,” he recalls, “and was waving its tentacle at me, saying, ‘Come on in and get me.’ ” On the drive home Sid thought up a story about two kids finding a sea monster and hiding it in their tree house.
The brothers’ personal lives are as different as their contributions to the company. Sid, divorced with one son, is a health food addict who grows his own organic vegetables and works out strenuously every day. “I don’t have time for that,” says Marty, who is married and has three daughters. “I just keep pushing the elephant.”