Mallory is keeping Lamb Chop alive for fans old and new with her fierce, funny TikTok presence
Lamb Chop was first introduced to the world on Captain Kangaroo in 1956 by iconic ventriloquist Shari Lewis
Shari continued her work with Lamb Chop and other beloved characters until her death in 1998
Daughter Mallory Lewis took over voicing Lamb Chop in 2000 and has recently brought the beloved character to TikTok, where audiences old and new are enjoying her sassy signature presence
Mallory Lewis is bringing the joy of an old childhood friend to your For You Page.
Mallory, daughter of esteemed children's entertainer and ventriloquist Shari Lewis, is bringing one of her mom's most beloved characters into the social media age with her TikTok. There, the performer shares videos with Lamb Chop, the sock puppet who entertained generations of kids.
Shari first debuted Lamb Chop on Captain Kangaroo in 1956, with her own show, The Shari Lewis Show, debuting in 1969. The beloved puppets that made up her gang continued on in a number of specials throughout the '70s and '80s before PBS' Lamb Chop's Play-Along debuted in 1992.
For Mallory, 60, this meant growing up alongside Lamb Chop, though she never imagined herself involved in this capacity.
"To me, it was completely normal growing in show business and in this weird world of puppets," Mallory tells PEOPLE. "I'm often asked what it was like growing up with a famous mom, and I don't quite know because to me, she was just mom."
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"I did not want to be a ventriloquist. I did not want to be an entertainer. I was my mom's head writer, and I was her producer. And when she died, I kept getting letters and some early emails that asked, 'Is Lamb Chop dead too?'"
"I couldn't let Lamb Chop also be dead. So I was going around the country, accepting posthumous awards for my mom, and I was pregnant and postpartum, and my now ex-husband asked me, 'Do you want to do this?' And so, I gave it a try and it turned out I did."
"It's funny because my mom met the Queen of England, and she was in the reception line, talking to Princess Margaret, and Princess Margaret asked, 'How did you come to be a ventriloquist?' And my mom said that her dad, my grandfather, was a magician. And the princess responded, 'Yes, one does tend to go into the family business.'"
Mallory knew that Lamb Chop was beloved, but she saw it more as she started to navigate her world.
"It was always great traveling with Lamb Chop because you got all sorts of special stuff," she laughs. "My husband and I just got back from the British Virgin Islands and I met a guy on a scuba boat. It turns out that he runs Necker Island, which is Richard Branson's private island. So I said to him. Wow. 'What does that cost?' And he's like, '$150,000 a day.' I'm like, well guess I'm never gonna see that."
She continues, "And ten minutes later in the conversation, I brought up Lamb Chop and he was a huge Lamb Chop fan. so we got a beautiful three-hour tour of Necker Island."
While some people might imagine it gets tiresome to talk about Lamb Chop again and again, she hasn't lost her magic for Mallory.
"The nicest thing about hanging out with Lamb Chop is that I am greeted with love that my mother engendered," she says. "I've gotten to do amazing things because of Lamb Chop."
Mallory and Lamb Chop have recently embarked on a new adventure, taking their talents to TikTok. In a short time, Mallory has found the community there endearing to them and appreciative of her mom's legacy.
"I get lovely comments from people and it's so nice to see. Some say, 'I had a difficult childhood and your mom was the bright spot' or 'Your mom was so classy' or 'Seeing your mom unlocks my happiest childhood memories.' Everyone comes to the table with a good memory.'"
She first got the idea to try the platform out from her stepdaughter and a friend, who encouraged her to give it a shot during the pandemic.
"At first I was like, 'Oh God, not another social media platform,' but I tried it and my third video went viral. Now, I love it. My theory is that every network serves it's purpose. Facebook is for fighting with family. X is for fighting with complete strangers. Instagram is for beautiful young things. But TikTok? TikTok is for entertainers," Mallory shares.
Joking that her demographic is "25 to dead" Mallory says, "I think a lot of my TikTok fan base is people who would just like to have a few moments of peace and happiness. The world's a pretty scary place and I think Mom always made people feel good, feel safe, when their lives were scary as children. Now, Lamb Chop and I get to continue on with that tradition."
Mallory says it "wasn't intimidating" stepping into her mom's shoes and that now, she's been with Lamb Chop for over half as long as Shari was.
"Lamb Chop really has her own very strong personality. I don't have to worry about what she's going to say. She's just funny," she says. "I do understand that I'm involved in this, but Lamb Chop is her own personality. She is funny and sweet and sassy."
Mallory's son was briefly involved in the family business, "going on tour with me and setting up my sound equipment and calling my shows," but these days, he's moved on to explore his own passions.
Mallory still feels that family connection every time she and Lamb Chop make an appearance.
"I come from a long line of strong and iconic women," she shares. "Obviously my mom, but my aunt was Judith Krantz Scruples and Princess Daisy. She basically created the genre of women's fiction in the 80s, hugely successful. My grandmother was one of the founders of Legal Aid back in the 80s. So I have grown up in a family of strong and bossy women."
The two also feel the connection with their TikTok audience, with Lamb Chop herself telling PEOPLE, "I get to do a show every day, and every day I get to say hello to my friends, and I love it."
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Read the original article on People.