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After coming to life in the creative mind of Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog sang It’s Not Easy Being Green in 1969 on Sesame Street. As a puppeteer, Henson not only created the frog but was also his operator. Kermit the Frog and his creator’s long partnership lasted 41 years until Henson’s death ended the collaboration. The frog is now working with a new puppeteer named Steve Whitmore.
According to Biography, Henson began performing puppet shows for audiences when he was a Cub Scout. Cub Scouting is a part of the Boy Scouts of America, and is designed for boys between 7-10 years old. Henson was still in high school when he first used television as a medium for his puppetry. His puppet show was on Saturday mornings.
Henson used one of his mother’s old coats to create his first frog puppet. Additionally, he cut a ping-pong ball in half to make the frog’s eyes. Henson created the puppet show Sam and Friends when he was a freshman at the University of Maryland. Kermit was not a frog when he was on Sam and Friends. He was a “creature of indeterminate species,” according to The FW.
During Henson’s production of Sam and Friends, he created early versions of the Muppets. The puppet show aired between 1955 and 1961. Each program was seven minutes long. Henson and his wife, Jane, created the programs and operated the puppets.
The puppet and Henson worked together on several projects prior to Sesame Street. In the 1960s, Henson created Tales of Tinkerdee, Cinderella (a pilot), Muppet On Puppets and the Sesame Street Pitch Reel. There were many more movies, television programs, and commercials in which the two worked together. Henson’s death ended the highly productive and long partnership between Kermit and the puppeteer.
In 1969, the green puppet became the star of the new television program, Sesame Street. Henson and The Children’s Television Workshop collaborated to produce the Public Broadcasting Station’s (PBS) television show. Sesame Street featured puppets and humans interacting to teach counting, the alphabet, and problem-solving skills. Kermit was on Sesame Street for 32 years, and left the show in 2002.
Throughout the years, Kermit has revealed little tidbits about himself when speaking to various television personalities. For example, when he appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ afternoon talk show, he explained he was from the swamps in Louisiana. When he was on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, he told Ty Pennington, “You know, as a tadpole in the swamp, I had 3,265 brothers and sisters!”
The movie entitled Kermit’s Swamp Years was released in 2002. In the film, he left home at age 12. During his journey, he encountered 12-year-old Henson, who was played by Christian Kriebel. According to IMDb, the frog, his best friends, Goggles, and Croaker left the swamp to accomplish tremendous things in their lives. The famous puppet was the first of his siblings to leave the swamp.
The frog and his Muppet buddies are now going to be on nighttime television, with a program which will target an adult audience. According to ABC, “The Muppets return to [prime time] with a contemporary, documentary-style show.” The Muppets is a mockumentary which will explore the personal side of the gang. The series premiere is scheduled to air on Sept. 22, 2015.
Miss Piggy and Kermit announced they were ending their personal relationship on Aug. 4, 2015. According to UsWeekly, when asked about continuing to work together, the famous frog replied they were both professionals. He added, “I think we’ll be fine.”
The original Kermit the Frog was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 2013. Henson’s widow made the donation on the anniversary of his birthday. The careers of Kermit and Jim Henson were successful, and their long partnership only ended with Henson’s death.
By Cathy Milne
Edited by Jennifer Pfalz
Bio.: Jim Henson
Bio.: Famous People & the Frogs They Made Famous
IMDb: Kermit’s Swamp Years
THEFW: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kermit the Frog
US Weekly: Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog Break Up Ahead of The Muppets ABC Premiere
Featured Image Courtesy of Alan Doyle’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Logga Wiggler’s Pixabay Page – CC0 Public Domain License