PASSINGS: Van Snowden, Maury Allen, Georgi Arbatov

Van Snowden

Puppeteer for ‘Pufnstuf,’ ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse

Van Snowden, 71, who inhabited the costumed character H.R. Pufnstuf in the 1970 film and was the lead puppeteer on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” on television, died of cancer Sept. 22 at a Burbank hospital, said a spokesman for producers Sid and Marty Krofft.


After donning the dragon suit for “H.R. Pufnstuf,” produced by the Krofft brothers, Snowden worked with them on projects that included the 1970s TV series “The Bugaloos” and " Land of the Lost.”

“Van Snowden was the heart and soul of our company,” Sid Krofft said in a statement. “He co-directed most of our puppet shows with me and brought our major characters to life with his brilliance.”

In the late 1980s, Snowden shared an Emmy nomination for his work on “D.C. Follies,” a syndicated sitcom that used puppets to lampoon celebrities.

As a puppeteer, he portrayed Chucky in the “Child’s Play” films and the Crypt Keeper in the 1990s TV series “Tales From the Crypt.” His work was also featured in such films as “Beetle Juice” (1988) and “The X Files” (1998).

For the last three years, he had led the puppeteer division of Hasbro and its Tiger Toys.

Van Charles Snowden was born in 1939 in San Francisco and grew up on a farm in Branson, Mo.

Maury Allen

Sportswriter and author

Maury Allen, 78, a longtime sportswriter who wrote biographies of greats including Jackie Robinson and Joe Namath and spent 27 years writing for the New York Post, died of lymphoma Sunday at his home in Cedar Grove, N.J., the Post confirmed.

Allen primarily covered the New York Yankees for the Post, wrote more than three dozen books and was a staple in several sports documentaries. He also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Journal News, a newspaper in New York state.

Allen also served as an advisor and made a cameo in the ESPN miniseries about the 1977 Yankees, “The Bronx Is Burning.” He recently completed a book about former Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Dixie Walker, released earlier this year.

Allen was born May 2, 1932, in Brooklyn.

Georgi Arbatov

Soviet foreign policy advisor

Georgi Arbatov, 87, a foreign policy advisor to Soviet presidents who served as the country’s top America-watcher during the Cold War, died Friday,Russian state TV announced. No cause was given.

Arbatov, who advised leaders including Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev and was especially close to Yuri Andropov, was credited in the West and later in Russia for understanding that the Soviet system was fundamentally untenable.

“He belonged to a group of reformers who believed that the Soviet system could be and had to be reformed,” said Yevgeny Primakov, who served as prime minister under Boris Yeltsin.

From 1967 to 1995 Arbatov ran the Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies, an advisory body to Soviet authorities that he founded and that had huge sway over policy toward the American continent at a time of heightened tensions for the Cold War adversaries.

Arbatov was born in 1923. He studied international law but started out as a journalist after fighting in World War II, and wrote speeches for leaders including Brezhnev.

Arbatov was awarded the highest Soviet scientific distinction in 1974, named Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.

Times staff and wire reports