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It's Time To Meet The Muppets!

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

December 17, 2010

Comments (7)

Jim Henson with MuppetsDid you know that the puppeteers who control the actions of Muppets also do their voices?

Just as in other franchises, the Muppets and Sesame Street have seen roles passed over to new performers who take their jobs very seriously and with heart!

In today's VOX Daily, we're going to take a look at Jim Henson's legacy and a number of "Muppet Performers" to learn more about their multifaceted jobs as both puppet masters and voice artists.

A Look at Some Muppet Performers

Jim Henson's legacy is enormous in terms of his contribution to entertainment and puppetry.

Henson pioneered this form of entertainment and was the voice of Kermit the Frog for 35 years up until his death in 1990.

Henson confided that he was not a ventriloquist and would freely let his lips move while voicing Kermit, even when on entertainment programs like The Carson Show. He was convinced that people were more interested in what the frog was doing rather than what the bearded guy beside him was up to.

Steve Whitmire with KermitOver the years, many talented people worked alongside Henson including his successor as Kermit, Steve Whitmire (pictured at left).

Whitmire notes that while their performances aren't exactly the same, that his Kermit is very much like Henson's Kermit.

Having the privilege of working closely with Henson also gave Whitmire an insider's perspective on what drove the character and how Henson shaped Kermit.

Whitmire also performs as Ernie, Statler, Beaker, Rizzo the Rat and Bean Bunny.

Frank Oz with Miss PiggyAnother great Muppet Performer was Frank Oz. Oz was the puppeteer for a number of characters including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, and Sesame Street's Cookie Monster, Grover, Bert and more.

When Oz moved on to other directing projects, Eric Jacobson took over many of Frank Oz's roles including Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Bert and Grover. Jacobson views his participation as a caretaker role in terms of the legacy left from those who went before.

Jacobson grew up watching the Muppets and has been quoted as being a rabid fan of the show. Yesterday I posted a video of Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson discussing their roles and responsibilities as Muppet Performers that you can watch on our Voices.com Videos blog.

Working as a Muppet Performer is the fulfillment of a dream for many people who have come to join the team.

Kevin Clash with ElmoThe Muppet Performer for Elmo, among other puppets, is Kevin Clash. Kevin has been doing the voice of Elmo for over twenty years and is currently the Sesame Street Muppet Captain and co-executive producer.

Clash has authored an autobiography called "My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud."

Just yesterday I saw Kevin's name in the credits for Elmo's World and decided to look him up. In another program, I saw Eric Jacobson listed as Grover in Global Grover and thought to look him up as well.

There is a lot of opportunity for Muppets to work as generations are now familiar with these characters and have access to an amazing legacy of films, televised programs, cartoons and specials.

Who Are Your Favorite Muppet Performers?

Let me know by leaving a comment!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Related Topics: cartoons, Jim Henson, muppet performers, Muppets, Puppeteers, The Muppets, voice acting


Comments


    I have been a big fan of the Muppets and Jim Henson since I was very little. I am sure they had a lot to do with my interest in voiceovers and acting in general.
    It saddens me when I hear the Muppets performed in voices other than their original voice, but in the case of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, I guess it's better to have the character live on even when their original voice performer dies. In the case of Frank Oz, who moved on to other pursuits, it's amazing to consider the breadth of characters he brought to life- Miss Piggy, Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, Sam the Eagle and lots of other minor characters.
    Kevin Clash is a remarkably talented and versatile performer and producer.

    Posted by:

      Stephanie, it is nigh impossible to pick a favorite Muppet. They're all individual works of art, built with love and protected by talented and smart people that know and understand what the Muppet legacy really means.

      I'm just glad that I'll get to share the Muppets with my son when he gets a little older.

      Posted by:
      • Scott Lumley
      • December 17, 2010 4:02 PM

        I always loved the two old men in the balcony (but don't remember their names). In addition to the humor, they always added an extra depth to the show. Because we all know their animated, it's the voice that really makes them come alive. If we heard the voice in the dark, we'd always know exactly who was speaking. The voice and the character become inseparable and really make the whole show come to life.

        Posted by:
        • Tom
        • December 20, 2010 5:15 PM

          My children was raised with the muppet they learn their ABC from the muppet and they always believe the muppet talk on there own. They really love then some muppets .When Mr Henson died It was like an old friend died. But I always wonder who was voices behind the muppet now years later I was watching WENDY WILLIAMS show 03/10/2011 and there he was ELMO who I love to watch was on her show may I say this " I was happy as a frog in a pond ". After all these years I decided to go to your site to see who was the voice behind ELMO. Kevin Clash I am proud of you and I love you for the joy and the love you have given my children and me .Because now my grandbaby are watching you and listening to your sweet voice .Also you have a very sweet smile
          Think you

          PS I love me some ms. piggy

          Posted by:
          • Priscilla Davis
          • March 10, 2011 12:16 PM

            I grew up watching the Muppets and Jim Henson has always been one of my favorite people. I like the fact he brought the Muppets to life. God Rest his soul. Even though he has passed, his legacy still lives on and for that I am grateful. Kermit and Piggy are 2 of my favorites. I like the fact Piggy always crushed on Kermit and it seemed like Kermit didn't want much to do with her but he put up with her and when Kermit said something wrong, Piggy would slap him. To this day I still watch the Muppets from time to time. I am just glad Jim Henson's legacy still lives and hope it lives for a really long time.

            God Bless you Mr Henson. Rest In peace man.

            Posted by:
            • bigfun
            • February 17, 2012 2:37 AM

              My favorite puppeteer is Carroll Spinney voicing and maneuvering big bird and Oscar the grouch. I also love the versatility of Frank oz I would love to meet these wonderful men..
              And on a idea note I was deeply moved watching big bird sing. It's not so easy being green at Jim Hensons memorial.

              Posted by:
              • amber nuhn
              • May 18, 2012 1:44 PM

                I like ANIMAL. He's awesome.

                Posted by:
                • Dale Artis
                • October 3, 2013 8:11 PM

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