Lewis, Shari

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LEWIS, SHARI (Phyllis Hurwitz ; 1934–1998), U.S. ventriloquist, singer, dancer, musician, writer. For all her many accomplishments, Lewis is best known in connection with her long-time colleague Lamb Chop, a sock puppet. Lewis was born in New York City. Her father, Abraham Hurwitz, was a founding member of New York's Yeshiva University. He also played a significant role in his daughter's dramatic capabilities – Lewis began her career in entertainment at age 13, performing magic acts with Jewish content that her father had taught her. Lewis attended New York's High School of Music and Art and also studied at the American School of Ballet. She completed one year at Columbia University before dropping out to begin her career as a performer. In 1952, Lewis came in first for her puppetry on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television show. By 1960, The Shari Lewis Show was on the air and she and Lamb Chop were well on their way to becoming two of America's most beloved television characters. Lewis always focused on providing young children with educational and moral content. In addition to her work on television, she wrote more than 30 books and sold thousands of videos. In 1994, pbs revived her original television concept and Lamb Chop's Play-Along was back on the air. Of the 12 Emmys that she won throughout her career, five were awarded for the show in its final, revived version. Lewis was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 1998 and died of pneumonia while under treatment.

[Casey Schwartz (2nd ed.)]