Lamb Chop spreads holiday cheer

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    Home for the holidays, together with family and friends. That is where a wonderful, wooly puppet and her sister are, feeling warm and fuzzy. Lamb Chop-one of the most famous puppets on earth-has been singing carols and lighting up rooms with laughter this past year with her “sister” Mallory Lewis.

    Puppeteer pioneer and legend Shari Lewis introduced Lamb Chop in 1957 on the Captain Kangaroo Show. In 1998 she was taken away from thousands of Americans and her family when she lost her life to uterine cancer.

    “The country was sad with me, it was comforting,” Shari Lewis’ daughter, Mallory, commented.

    Fans and admirers shared in her loss.

    Mallory (Shari’s only child) considers it a joy to provide the voice of her favorite playmate since childhood. Lamb Chop-who is eternally six years old-has been given new life after a two-year hiatus. The ventriloquist and her hand puppet have been cajoling laughter from audiences at the Los Angeles Zoo, and more recently at a matinee performance of a Christmas concert with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and the Trouveres Chamber Choir from the All Saints Church in Pasadena. Lamb Chop sang the chorus of “Silent Night.”

    “I love performing. I was excited for the Christmas concert,” Lamb Chop exclaimed from her home in Malibu where she lives with Mallory, her husband Brad Hood, and their three-year-old son, Jamie.

    “Jamie drags Lamb Chop around by the feet,” Mallory said of her son’s affection for the puppet. “He’s carrying Grandma’s lamb.”

    “I have gotten hours of babysitting out of Mom’s videos,” Mallory said. “Kids want to be made to laugh … they like to sing, they like music.”

    Mallory knows what she’s talking about. She was the head writer on her mother’s series, and is the author of 20 children’s books. She is also the writer, creative director, and producer of television and videos of “Lamb Chop’s Play Along,” “Charlie Horse Music Pizza,” “Shari’s Passover Surprise” and “Lamb Chop’s Special Chanukah.”

    Mallory talks about the thrill of having a part of her mom to carry on the family traditions.

    She said it’s important to her for her son to know Grandma Shari. And it means a great deal that her mother’s legacy be continued for another generation of children.

    A creator in her own right, Mallory has designed a new puppet that was inspired by her children’s book series. Excited to show her new character in front of the camera, Mallory brought out “Zoey,” a friendly female orangutan recently introduced at the Los Angeles Zoo.

    “I am only one month old,” Mallory threw her voice behind this almost life-size puppet on her right arm.

    She will be welcoming her new creation at the Magic Castle in March 2003. She plans to bring back Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy, brothers of the famous Lamb Chop, on the stage.

    “Ramchop will also debut at the castle. He is my nightclub puppet. He is rather rude, and has an attitude … definitely not for kids’ ears.”

    In 1992 Mallory won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writer on a Children’s Series for “Lamb Chops Play Along.” She is active in KIDSNET, a nonprofit national resource center that was established to encourage media literacy in children and is committed to educational excellence in broadcasters. Her mother, Shari, was a founding member of the board of directors.

    Mallory and her husband own an aerial production company, “Jump Run Productions.” Celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary this week, the couple met while he was a skydiving cinematographer and she was an extra on set for the footage being recorded of a skydiving sequence.

    Mallory’s future plans include bringing the lovable Lamb Chop back to television viewers. She is currently developing a new Lamb Chop television series in conjunction with Classic Media Inc. (New York).