Hollywood puppeteer Van Snowden dies

1:36 PM PST 09/28/2010 by Mike Barnes, AP

Credits included 'Child's Play,' 'Pufnstuf'

Van Snowden, one of Hollywood's premier puppeteers, died Sept. 22 of cancer at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank. He was 71.

Snowden began with Sid and Marty Krofft, played H.R. Pufnstuf and appeared in almost every TV show the brothers produced. He did puppetry as Chucky in the "Child's Play" films and as the Crypt Keeper in the horror anthology "Tales From the Crypt" and served as the lead puppeteer on "Pee-wee's Playhouse."

"His talent equaled the talent of Jim Henson," Marty Krofft said. "He was one of the great puppeteers of all time. He touched just about every TV series and movie we've ever done."

Snowden shared an Emmy nomination in 1989 for his puppetry work on "D.C. Follies" in the category of outstanding performance in a variety or musical program. It was the first time in the 42-year history of the Primetime Emmys that puppeteers were so honored (he lost out to singer Linda Ronstadt).

Snowden's career took off when he played the helpful dragon H.R. Pufnstuf in the 1970 film "Pufnstuf." He then became a favorite of the Kroffts on such shows as "The Bugaloos," "Lidsville," "Land of the Lost" and "Sigmund & the Sea Monsters."

Snowden starred in "The Pufnstuf Road Show" for two years, making stops in Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl along the way, and his final credit came as Pufnstuf in a 2007 episode of "My Name Is Earl."

Snowden also worked as a puppeteer in such films as "Beetle Juice" (1988), "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991), "Bram Stroker's Dracula" (1992), "Alien: Resurrection" (1997), "Starship Troopers" (1997) and "The X Files" (1998).

For the past three years, Snowden headed the puppeteer division of Hasbro and its Tiger Toys. His team programmed in original mouth sync, eye blinks and body movements for such popular interactive toys as Furby, Gizmo, Yoda and E.T.

Survivors include his sister Deanna and brother Nick.
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