Shari Lewis/

If the puppet doesn't take over, the puppet isn't worth doodley-squat!

Entertainer and comedian Shari Lewis was best known for her sidekick Lamb Chop, the adorable puppet who began entertaining children in the 1950s. Ventriloquist Shari and Lamb Chop were household names in America and their multi-Emmy-Award-winning TV shows together were broadcast all over the world, featuring other characters including Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy.

Born Phyllis Naomi Hurwitz in New York, Shari became a performer as soon as she left school, winning a TV talent show in 1952 which gave her her big break. With an inventive and instinctive ability to connect with children, she often described herself as her viewers’ ‘older playmate’ although her entertaining programmes were often educational.

A talented musician who included lots of music in her shows with Lamb Chop and pals, Shari also wrote more than 60 children’s books. Her work kept her, young, she always said. Shari and Lamb Chop also entertained troops and performed in front of crowned heads at the Royal Variety Show.

Shari had been creating a new programme with her puppet character Charlie Horse, when she fell ill with cancer and died of complications.

Shari was praised by Richard W. Riley, America’s education secretary at the time of her death, for her unique and unforgettable gift for combining humour, education and entertainment. Shari’s daughter Mallory, has continued her mother’s legacy, performing with Lamb Chop.