Entertainer. Ventriloquist and Puppeteer, Shari Lewis was born Phyllis Hurwitz in New York City. Through the encouragement of both of her parents, Shari began performing at the age of thirteen. She had lessons in acrobatics, juggling, piano, violin and ventriloquism. She attended New York's High School of Music and Art and the American School of Ballet. She attended Columbia University for one year, then left to become a performer.
As a result of a short marriage to Stan Lewis she took her stage name. In 1952, Lewis won first prize on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. In 1956 she and Lamb Chop appeared on Captain Kangaroo. In 1960 she had her own television program Fact 'n' Fun.
Then came The Shari Lewis Show, which introduced Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse. Lewis also authored over 30 books for children. Sherry Louis used to joke that at five feet tall she was barely the size of an 11-year-old, not much bigger than most of the kids she entertained.
She and her second husband, Jeremy Tarcher, wrote an episode of Star Trek titled "The Lights of Zetar". When the Public Broadcasting System approached her about a television show, after being off the air for two decades, she created Lamp Chop's Play-Along. Among her awards are twelve Emmy Awards, seven Parent's Choice Awards, a 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), the New York Film and Video Festival Silver Award (1995) and the Kennedy Center annual award for excellence (1983).
Shari was married to Jeremy Tarcher from 1958 to the time of her death in 1998 of pneumonia while being treated at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for uterine cancer. (bio by: Paul G. Healy)