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Shari Lewis (1933 - 1998)

A photo of Shari Lewis
Phyllis Naomi (Hurwitz) Tarcher
1933 - 1998
Born
January 17, 1933
Bronx County, New York United States
Death
August 2, 1998
Cedars-Sinai Hospital 8700 Beverly Blvd, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States 90048
Other Names
Shari Lewis
Summary
Shari Lewis was born on January 17, 1933 in New York United States. Her maiden name is Hurwitz and she married into the Tarcher family. She died on August 2, 1998 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, California United States at 65 years old.
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Updated: July 5, 2021
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Shari Lewis, born Phyllis Naomi Hurwitz to Ann Ritz and Abraham Hurwitz, is best remembered as a ventriloquist, puppeteer & children's entertainer. Her sock puppet Lamb Chop is remembered by many. She married Stan Lewis in 1953 and they divorced in 1957, and she remarried to Jeremy Tarcher in 1958 until her passing in 1998. She has one child named Mallory Tarcher. Entertainment might have been inherited from her father Abraham. Abraham was named New York City's "official magician" by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia during the Great Depression. Shari entertained millions and won her first puppetry prize on the CBS tv series Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in 1952. NBC gave Shari her first network program called 'The Shari Lewis Show' which introduced the world to Lamb Chop and debuted on October 1st 1960. Interesting to note, this tv program is what replaced the famous 'The Howdy Doody Show'.
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Biography
Shari Lewis
Most commonly known as
Phyllis Naomi (Hurwitz) Tarcher
Full name
Shari Lewis
Other names or aliases
Unknown. Did Phyllis move a lot? Where was her last known location?
Last known residence
Female
Gender
Phyllis Tarcher was born on in Bronx County, New York United States
Birth
Phyllis Tarcher died on at Cedars-Sinai Hospital 8700 Beverly Blvd, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States 90048
Death
Birth
Death
Cancer - pneumonia while undergoing chemotherapy
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Shari Lewis?
Burial / Funeral
Heritage

Ethnicity & Lineage

Jewish descent.

Nationality & Locations

Born in the Bronx New York.
Childhood

Education

Her father was Abraham Hurwitz who was an education professor at Yeshiva University. She studied music (the piano and violin) at New York's High School of Music and Art, dance at the School of American Ballet, and acting with Sanford Meisner of the Neighborhood Playhouse. She briefly attended Barnard College until she went into the show business.

Religion

Jewish.

Baptism

Was Phyllis baptized?
Adulthood

Professions

A talented entertainer, Shari Lewis was known as being a ventriloquist, puppeteer, children's entertainer, comedian, and television show host, but she also was very talent in music.

Personal Life

Lewis burst into show business early—as a toddler pulling rabbits out of a hat. Her father, Abraham B. Hurwitz, official magician of the New York City parks department, taught her how. She credited her mother, a music coordinator for the New York City Board of Education, with inspiring her boundless energy and enthusiasm and arranging her musical training. She began studying piano at age 2. As she grew up, she added music theory, orchestration, more piano and violin at New York’s High School of Music and Art, dance at the School of American Ballet and acting with Sanford Meisner of the Neighborhood Playhouse. The ventriloquism was inborn. “Like dancing and singing, if a child develops a natural proficiency in ventriloquism, it can be refined later by careful instruction and practice,” she told The Times in 1966. “But I never heard of an adult ‘learning’ the art sufficiently to become a successful professional.” In 1952, barely 19, Lewis was a winner on Arthur Godfrey’s television talent scout show. Within five years, she introduced Lamb Chop on the “The Captain Kangaroo Show” for children. That led immediately to “The Shari Lewis Show,” which ran in NBC’s Saturday morning lineup for several years. Devoted to children, Lewis worked on their behalf far beyond the camera and microphone. She raised a daughter, Mallory Tarcher, currently producer and executive story editor of Lewis’ show. She also served on the national boards of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America and of the International Reading Foundation. In 1995 she was national spokesperson for the American Lung Assn. Fond of live animals as well as her puppet imitators, she was on the board of the Los Angeles Zoo for three years. A consummate entertainer, ventriloquist and puppeteer, Shari Lewis wrote more than 60 children’s books, created 24 videos and won 12 Emmy awards. Career highlights: 1952: Wins on the “Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout” program, her first big break in show business. 1957: Introduces Lamb Chop in single appearance on “The Captain Kangaroo Show,” which leads to “The Shari Lewis Show” Saturday mornings on NBC. Mid-1960s: Performs in popular nightclub act with Donald O’Connor in Las Vegas. 1968-76: Has her own Sunday night television series on the BBC in Great Britain. 1992: “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” on PBS wins the first of five consecutive Emmys. 1998: “The Charlie Horse Music Pizza” debuts on PBS Jan. 5. File name: casinos graphic

Military Service

Did Phyllis serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?
Obituary

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Television: Shariland—(1956–1958) Hi Mom—(1957–1959) The Merv Griffin Show - 2 episodes (1962 & 1967) The Shari Lewis Show—(1960–1963) Car 54 Where Are You- Puncher & Judy (4/7/63) The Danny Kaye Show - 2 episodes (1964) The Dean Martin Show - 2 episodes (1965-1966) The Shari Lewis Show (BBC)—(1969[28]-1976[29]) Star Trek: The Original Series - Writer - episode - The Lights of Zetar (1969) Shari's Show - TV Mini-Series (1970) The Shari Show (syndicated)—(1975–1976) Dinah! - 2 episodes (1975-1976) Lamb Chop's Play-Along—(1992–1997) Biography - episode - Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop (1994) The Nanny - episode - Lamb Chop's On the Menu (1995) Sesame Street - episode - Sloppy at day care (1996) The Charlie Horse Music Pizza—(1998–1999) Movies: You Can Do It!—1984 Have I Got A Story For You—1984 Kooky Classics—1984 TV Specials: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1975 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1976 Shari Lewis Magic Show—1979 Shari's Christmas Concert—1981 101 Things For Kids To Do—1987 Lamb Chop's Sing-Along, Play-Along—1988 Don't Wake Your Mom!—1989 Lamb Chop in the Land of No Manners—1989 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1992 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1993 Lamb Chop in the Land of No Numbers—1993 Lamb Chop in the Haunted Studio—1994 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade —1994 The 21st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards—1994 Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah—1995 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1995 Shari's Passover Surprise—1996 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1996 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—1997
Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna shared this memory
on Dec 06, 2020 3:56 PM
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Phyllis' immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Tarcher family tree.

Phyllis's Family Tree

Parent
Parent
Shari Lewis Shari Lewis
Partner
Child
Partner
Child
Sibling

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Sheryl Adler commented
I never met her but I was told that she was my mother's cousin or something.. My grandmother was Gertrude Tarcher and she had siblings, Ann and Marty Tarcher. All of them are deceased.
Dec 06, 2020  ·  Reply

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AUG. 4, 199812 AM Shari Lewis, the perky strawberry blond ventriloquist, puppeteer, singer and dancer who graced the television screen and nightclub stage for four decades, accompanied by her lovable sock puppet Lamb Chop, has died. She was 65. Lewis, who was found to have uterine cancer in June, died of pneumonia Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said her publicist, Maggie Begley. Lewis had been undergoing chemotherapy for the last six weeks. The 5-foot, 98-pound overachiever amassed a dozen Emmys, a Peabody Award, the John F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity, seven Parents’ Choice Awards, the Action for Children’s Television Award, and in 1995 the new Rommie award for her CD-ROM “Lamb Chop Loves Music.” Lewis wrote more than 60 children’s books and created 24 home videos, including “101 Things for Kids to Do,” which won many awards. A consummate musician, she played violin and piano and conducted major orchestras, including the National Symphony in Washington and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Educational as well as entertaining to generations of children, Lewis’ programs were most often produced for PBS. Her current show, which debuted in January, is “The Charlie Horse Music Pizza” produced by KCET in Hollywood. The show, which she said was designed to teach children the joy of making music, is co-produced by Golden Books Family Entertainment, which bought Shari Lewis Enterprises Inc. last year. “There is no way to continue the show because Shari was everything,” said Laurel Lambert, spokeswoman for KCET. She said, however, that the series is airing repeats that will continue through the fall, and that three new episodes for the fall season have been taped. Although Lewis manipulated dozens of puppets, her original Lamb Chop was the most enduring and endearing and became the trademark and alter ego of its creator. Next most famous were Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy. In the early 1990s, Lewis created the PBS series “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” which she dubbed the “anti-couch potato show” because it encouraged sluggish youngsters to get up and interact with the program. Interaction was integral to Lewis’ shows for its educational value, she told a Times writer in 1992, quoting an ancient Chinese proverb: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. In the doing is the learning.” Lewis’ specials came to symbolize holidays for children and their parents around the world—"Shari’s Christmas Concert,” “Lamb Chop in the Haunted Studio,” “Shari’s Passover Surprise” and “Lamb Chop’s Special Hanukkah.” Although she was known as a children’s entertainer, Lewis also delighted nightclub crowds in Southern California and in Las Vegas, often with Donald O’Connor. Her act typically included distinct segments—such as puppets named Zsa Zsa and Phyllis comparing measurements and the unending search for men; Lewis dancing with a life-size replica of Fred Astaire; and curly-lashed Lamb Chop in adult mode, tipsy and searching for a martini. Lamb Chop always appeared, at one time aspiring to be a Playboy bunny, complete with long floppy ears attached. Reviewing Lewis’ act at the Century Plaza’s old Westside Room in 1967, Times critic John L. Scott rated her “cute . . . skillful . . . with fresh and engaging material.” Lewis relished the change from the television studio, where she played to unseen children, to the nightclub stage, where she could interact with a live adult audience. “It’s like roulette on stage every night,” she once said. She took her act to larger stages as well, most recently in December at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The extraordinarily versatile Lewis also performed in several Broadway musicals, including “Damn Yankees,” “Bye-Bye Birdie” and “Funny Girl,” as well as in her own “Lamb Chop on Broadway.” On prime-time television, she appeared in hundreds of movies and variety specials. She also was seen on game shows and such talk shows as “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.” Lewis burst into show business early—as a toddler pulling rabbits out of a hat. Her father, Abraham B. Hurwitz, official magician of the New York City parks department, taught her how. She credited her mother, a music coordinator for the New York City Board of Education, with inspiring her boundless energy and enthusiasm and arranging her musical training. She began studying piano at age 2. As she grew up, she added music theory, orchestration, more piano and violin at New York’s High School of Music and Art, dance at the School of American Ballet and acting with Sanford Meisner of the Neighborhood Playhouse. The ventriloquism was inborn. “Like dancing and singing, if a child develops a natural proficiency in ventriloquism, it can be refined later by careful instruction and practice,” she told The Times in 1966. “But I never heard of an adult ‘learning’ the art sufficiently to become a successful professional.” In 1952, barely 19, Lewis was a winner on Arthur Godfrey’s television talent scout show. Within five years, she introduced Lamb Chop on the “The Captain Kangaroo Show” for children. That led immediately to “The Shari Lewis Show,” which ran in NBC’s Saturday morning lineup for several years. Devoted to children, Lewis worked on their behalf far beyond the camera and microphone. She raised a daughter, Mallory Tarcher, currently producer and executive story editor of Lewis’ show. She also served on the national boards of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America and of the International Reading Foundation. In 1995 she was national spokesperson for the American Lung Assn. Fond of live animals as well as her puppet imitators, she was on the board of the Los Angeles Zoo for three years. Lewis is survived by her husband and frequent collaborator, publisher Jeremy Tarcher; her daughter; and a sister, Barbara Okun. Services will be private, although a public memorial will be planned. The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Girl Scouts of America. Cards or notes can be sent to the family care of KCET-TV in Los Angeles. A consummate entertainer, ventriloquist and puppeteer, Shari Lewis wrote more than 60 children’s books, created 24 videos and won 12 Emmy awards. Career highlights: 1952: Wins on the “Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout” program, her first big break in show business. 1957: Introduces Lamb Chop in single appearance on “The Captain Kangaroo Show,” which leads to “The Shari Lewis Show” Saturday mornings on NBC. Mid-1960s: Performs in popular nightclub act with Donald O’Connor in Las Vegas. 1968-76: Has her own Sunday night television series on the BBC in Great Britain. 1992: “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” on PBS wins the first of five consecutive Emmys. 1998: “The Charlie Horse Music Pizza” debuts on PBS Jan. 5. File name: casinos graphic
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Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Phyllis' lifetime.

In 1933, in the year that Shari Lewis was born, the day after being inaugurated, the new President, Franklin Roosevelt, declared a four-day bank holiday to stop people from withdrawing their money from shaky banks (the bank run). Within 5 days of his administration, the Emergency Banking Act was passed - reorganizing banks and closing insolvent ones. In his first 100 days, he asked Congress to repeal Prohibition (which they did), signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, signed legislation that paid commodity farmers to leave their fields fallow, thus ending surpluses and boosting prices, signed a bill that gave workers the right to unionize and bargain collectively for higher wages and better working conditions as well as suspending some antitrust laws and establishing a federally funded Public Works Administration, and won passage of 12 other major laws that helped the economy.

In 1959, when she was 26 years old, on January 3rd, Alaska became the 49th state of the United States and the first state not a part of the contiguous United States. The flag was changed to display 49 stars.

In 1963, at the age of 30 years old, Phyllis was alive when on November 22nd, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th President of the United States when President John Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Johnson was sworn in on the plane carrying Kennedy's body back to Washington D.C.

In 1982, she was 49 years old when on September 14th, Princess Grace of Monaco (American actress Grace Kelly), 52, died of injuries when her car plunged off a mountain road. Her 17 year old daughter, Stephanie, was also in the car and suffered serious injuries but recovered. It's believed that the accident was caused when Princess Grace, who was driving, had a mild stroke.

In 1998, in the year of Shari Lewis's passing, on December 19th, the House of Representatives initiated impeachment charges against U.S. President Bill Clinton. He was subsequently acquitted of these charges by the Senate on February 12th.

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Created on Jun 04, 2020 by Daniel Pinna
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