Mallory Lewis grew up with a very famous sister, but she laughs if you ask about sibling rivalry. "She slept in a shoebox in the closet, I had my own room, it was fine by me."
But this is no horror story of an evil stepsister. Mallory Lewis' sister is Lamb Chop, the adorable, perpetually 6-year-old puppet of children's entertainer Shari Lewis. Beloved by millions since their 1957 debut on "The Captain Kangaroo Show," Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop would go on to entertain generations of kids with their PBS series and videos. Mallory Lewis began writing her mom's newspaper column for kids at the age of 12, and by the early '90s, she was head writer and producer for mom's series.
Her work made it all the more natural for Mallory Lewis, now 34, to fill her mother's sock after Shari Lewis' untimely death from uterine cancer in 1998.
Though many, not least of all Mallory Lewis, feared that the lovable puppet would die along with her creator, the plucky puppet took only a year's hiatus before piping up again, now through her big sis. "When [my mom] died, Lamb Chop just spoke. I don't practice Lamb Chop. She works through me."
So while some world-weary grownups might see a celebrity daughter and a puppet, don't mention the puppet thing to Lamb Chop. "She is real as far as she is concerned," Mallory Lewis says, "Lamb Chop thinks of me as her supporting act."
"Jewish communities around the country were always extremely supportive of my mother," says the lifetime Hadassah member. "She always said it made her feel like there was family in the audience."
Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop kick off the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles' Sundays are for Stories series on Sunday, Sept. 9, 3 p.m.-4 p.m. 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations or more information, call (323) 761-8648.