Shari Lewis was born Phyllis Hurwitz to Ann and Abraham Hurwitz on January 17, 1934, in New York City. Her father was a founding member of Yeshiva University in New York City.
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Through the encouragement of both of her parents, Shari began performing at the age of thirteen when her father taught her magic acts with Jewish content. As a youth, she had lessons in acrobatics, juggling, piano,violin and ventriloquism. She studied piano and violin at New York’s High School of Music and Art, dance at the American School of Ballet, and acting with Sanford Meisner of the Neighborhood Playhouse. She attended Columbia University for one year, then left college to become a performer.
In 1952, Lewis and her puppetry won first prize on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts television show. In March 1956, she and Lamb Chop appeared on Captain Kangaroo and by 1960 she had her own television program. Shari subsequently had numerous series both in the UK and the US, and performed extensively around the country at venues as varied as Performing Arts Centers, County Fairs and Branson, MO. Shari also was an accomplished conductor of orchestras and wrote over 60 books
In the early ’90s, the Public Broadcasting System approached her about reviving her television show. Lamb Chop’s Play-Along, seen on PBS stations and reproduced in video, grew out of PBS interest and Lewis’s discontent with commercial television.
The video Lamb Chop’s Special Chanukah was released in 1996 and received the Parent’s Choice award of the year.
Among her awards are thirteen Emmy Awards, the Dor L’Dor award of the B’nai B’rith (1996), three Houston Film Festival awards, the Peabody Award (1960), the Silver Circle Award of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (1996), the Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence (1996), two Charleston Film Festival Gold Awards (1995), the Houston World Festival silver and bronze awards (1995), the New York Film and Video Festival Silver Award (1995), the Monte Carlo Prize for the World’s Best Television Variety Show (1963), and the Kennedy Center annual award for excellence (1983).
Shari Lewis died in 1998 of pneumonia while being treated at Cedars-Sinai Hospital at the age of 65. Shari is survived by daughter, Mallory Lewis (who now performs with Lamb Chop) and grandson, Jamie Hood, who sleeps with his Grandma’s Lamb Chop!
Hello Mallory and Lambchop! I just want to tell you about our experience with your music. We were in the audience in Ventura this summer, my husband and I grew up watching Lamb Chop and were excited to share this with our 2 yr old. We had to leave early when got fussy but you were so sweet about him starting to cry, lamb chop spoke to him a bit and we were thrilled. Despite our early departure Declan, our son, has been singing the up, down, in, out happy all the time song from that day on. Onc…
Moe family- Rolin, Becca and Declan
Dear Mallory and Lamb Chop,
I wanted to write you this letter in hopes that it reaches you with all of my warm wishes and words. I wanted to not only thank you all (Shari included) for not only helping me to become who I am today, but for continuing the legacy and message Lamb Chop brings to our world.
Growing up in the 80′s, my parents would happily pop in our favorite Shari Lewis videos and record all of our loved Play Along episodes. Why? Because my parents believed that the wholesomely…Stephanie Morales
Just wanted you to know that we missed you this year at the Wisconsin State Fair. We have been coming to see you for years and the kids and grandkids so enjoy your show. One year Katrina got a lambchop puppet and you were so kind to autograph it and be in a picture with her. Last year we brought you the Mallory and the Wild things CD and you told us it was filmed in your backyard and your jeep was your son’s toy. You signedthe CD and posed for pictures with it and all of us. We understand h…Pat
I used to watch your mother (amazing woman) when I was a youngster – it was one of my childhood memories.
I just wanted to say that it’s great how you’re keeping the magic alive!Best regardsJordan Letkemann
WOW!!! What a fantastic show, I was really impressed with how much Lambchop and Hush Puppy sounded just like they did 15 years ago! Your Mom would have been thrilled to watch your performance and of course so would have Dom Deluise, who encouraged you.
I loved your energy and the way you held both Lamb Chop and Hush Puppy, cradled in your arms, it looked natural. And like a good Ventriloquist does, you never moved your lips!! In fact, of all the present Ventriloquists in the wo…With LoveRay
I saw one of the shows at the Ventura Co. Fair this year at the Seabreeze stage.and was tossed back to my childhood. I sat down front just like you suggested and thought I was watching Shari.
Your Mom is smiling down I’m sure. Lamb Chop hasn’t aged a bit and still has the vitality she always has had. And I must say that I was smitten all over again by you and yours. I sure did miss seeing Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse though. Did they retire? A Renewed Fan,Keith
“Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop are a true class act. They appeal to both the young and old. Once you’ve seen one of Mallory’s shows you’ll walk away with a wonderful memory and also feeling like you have just acquired a new best friend.”
- Tonya Cook, Special Events Director, Iowa State FairTanya - via Email:
“This is a recommendation for “The Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop Show” for those who may be thinking of having her come to your event. I am the Stage Manager for the Fun Forest Stage at the Iowa State Fair and we had Mallory and Lamb Chop for our 11 day event this past August. I have worked with many artists in my 32 years at the Iowa State Fair and Mallory is one of the best! She is professional, prompt and inventive! When the rain came….she adjusted, when the heat came…she adjusted, she always p…Gwynne - via Email:
“I was surfing the net and was checking on hollywood obits and ran across your mother’s. I loved your mom so much. Watched her shows when I was a kid and she was a genius and a beautiful and talented woman. I’m sure you miss her dearly. Just wanted to say that and say your mom would be very proud of you. Thank you for continue her work.”Lindy - via Email:
“I was a fan of Lamb Chop when I was a kid, and I just got finished reading the whole story about your mom and I read about you, too. I strongly approve of your keeping Lamb Chop alive, I think that’s amazing. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors!”Dan - via Facebook: