Shari Lewis (January 17, 1933 – August 2, 1998) was an American ventriloquist, puppeteer, and children's television show host, most popular during the 1960s and 1990s. She is best known as the original puppeteer of Lamb Chop, first appearing on Hi Mom, a local morning show that aired on WNBC in New York.
Born as Sonia Phyllis Hurwitz to Abraham Hurwitz, an education professor at Yeshiva University, and Ann Ritz, she had one sister. Her parents encouraged her to perform, and by age 13 her father taught her to perform specialized magic acts. She also received instruction in acrobatics, juggling, ice skating, baton twirling, piano and violin. She was taught ventriloquism by John W. Cooper. Lewis continued piano and violin at New York's High School of Music and Art, dance at the American School of Ballet, and acting with Sanford Meisner of the Neighborhood Playhouse. She attended Barnard College for one year, then left college to go into show business.
In 1952, Lewis and her puppetry won first prize on the TV show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. On Sunday afternoon, July 5, 1953, Lewis made her TV debut on a local children's program Facts N'Fun on WRCA-TV Channel 4 in New York City. The program was a variety show where she engaged her viewers and studio audiences in games, songs, stories, craftmaking, informational segments and interviews with guest performers and personalities. She also performed comedy skits with two vent figures: "Samson" and "Taffy Twinkle". The series remained on the air until September 26, 1953.