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Performer:
Jim Henson • (1955 - 1990)
Steve Whitmire • (1990 - present)
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Kermit the Frog, arguably Jim Henson's most famous Muppet creation, was the star and host of The Muppet Show, played a significant role on Sesame Street, and served as the logo of The Jim Henson Company. He continues to star in Muppet movies and make numerous TV appearances.

Kermit grew up with thousands of siblings, and has talked occasionally about other members of his family. His childhood adventures were chronicled in Kermit's Swamp Years. Robin is Kermit's nephew. test

Miss Piggy insists that she and Kermit got married in The Muppets Take Manhattan and that they're very happy. Kermit disagrees, claiming that it was just a movie and that in real life, they have a "professional relationship". [1]

Kermit's most well-known catchphrase is "Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here!" He typically introduced acts on The Muppet Show by waving his arms wildly and shouting "Yaaaay!" (a technique he learned from his old acting coach, Mr. Dawson).

Kermit has been credited as the writer of three books: For Every Child, A Better World, One Frog Can Make a Difference, and Before You Leap.

Character originsEdit

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The earliest version of Kermit first appeared in 1955 on Sam and Friends, Jim Henson's five-minute puppet show that aired twice daily on WRC-TV. Henson made the first Kermit puppet out of his mother's old spring coat, using ping-pong balls for eyes.

Kermit wasn't a frog in the early days of the character. Although he was somewhat lizard-like in appearance, Jim Henson noted in a 1982 interview that "all the characters in those days were abstract."

Kermit first referred to himself as a frog in The Muppets On Puppets, a one-hour special that Henson produced for public television in 1968. However, it was not until the TV special Hey Cinderella! that the Kermit puppet was redesigned; his round feet were replaced with flippers, and he was given an eleven-pointed collar. By the time that Kermit appeared on the premiere of Sesame Street in November 1969, he was a full-fledged frog.

Kermit sported a double collar for a brief period in the early 1970s, including in the TV special The Frog Prince and several early seasons of Sesame Street, but by the time he took over as the level-headed but often exasperated host of The Muppet Show, it had changed back to the trademark single collar that he still wears today.

Kermit on Sesame StreetEdit

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Kermit's most famous role on Sesame Street is his role as a news reporter for the Sesame Street News Flash segments, interviewing characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

One of his most memorable works was the song "Bein' Green." Some of his other famous Sesame Street songs have included "This Frog," "I Love My Elbows," "On My Pond," and "Caribbean Amphibian."

He has also given many lectures on simple subjects. Some of Kermit's Lectures have been for the letter W, hands, and "Tall and Short." He appeared in the "Monsterpiece Theater" segment "Gone with the Wind," as well as an appearance in a "Miami Mice" sketch. Also in other skits, he teaches the monsters (Cookie Monster, Grover, and Herry) the meaning of certain things.

Kermit was also seen at his home on Sesame Street; Grover would often come to Kermit's house and sell things a frog can't use (such as toothbrushes and earmuffs). When he wasn't being disturbed, Kermit would occasionally sing to an imaginary audience at home; in Episode 2615, he performed "My Polliwog Ways" while imagining that his living room was a nightclub full of guests.

Kermit also took part in several talk spots with kids.

Unlike other Sesame Street characters, Sesame Workshop never had any ownership of Kermit the Frog. Because of this, Kermit has rarely been part of Sesame Street merchandise. He has appeared in many Sesame Street videos, most notably Big Bird's Storytime and, of course, The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street. His songs have also appeared on many Sesame Street albums. The only Kermit toy that was labeled as a Sesame Street toy was the Magic Talking Kermit toy, released in 1999. In 2005, he appeared on a Sesame Street winter hat by Berkshire Fashions. For more info on Sesame Street products featuring Kermit, see Kermit in Sesame Street Merchandise.

Although the rights to Kermit the Frog are owned by The Walt Disney Company, and the rights to Sesame Street are owned by Sesame Workshop, Sesame Workshop currently has permission from Disney to show old Kermit segments in current episodes of Sesame Street, as well as in home video and DVD productions. However, old Kermit segments are not shown very often in current episodes.

Interestingly enough, in 1970, Kermit the Frog was intended to be dropped from Sesame Street, only to be shown in the second season in existing segments. "When the new season starts November 9, expect changes. There will be no more know-it-all frog, since Kermit, the one Muppet who is not exclusive to Sesame Street, is opting out to do commercials" (Look, Sept. 22, 1970). Time Magazine reported with slightly more detail: "Kermit the Frog is being canned for commercialism. When Sesame Street was just a glint in Joan Ganz Cooney's eye, Kermit taped a special in Canada. When it was given a network airing, the frog was compromised. Or so Henson decided. .... He is being phased out of the show. He will be replaced by such Muppets as Herbert Birdsfoot and Sherlock Hemlock" (Time, November 23, 1970). Ultimately, of course, that did not turn out to be the case, as Kermit reappeared as a Sesame Street character in the third season (1971).

SpecialsEdit

Kermit has appeared in almost every major special from The Jim Henson Company. He had a fairly major supporting role in Hey Cinderella, had a major role in The Frog Prince, and narrated Tales of the Tinkerdee, The Muppet Musicians of Bremen, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Christmas Toy, and Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree.

However, when The Muppet Show was in development, Kermit was not intended to be the main character. In The Muppets Valentine Show, he had a major supporting role, and starred in two sketches, but the main character for that special was Wally. In The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, Kermit appeared in the audience during the wrestling sketches, and had one line in "At the Dance." After that special was made, Jim Henson realized that the pilot's host, Nigel, was not working out as a main character, and it was suggested to Henson that Kermit be the star instead.

Since Kermit was the main character on The Muppet Show, it makes sense that he appeared in every special relating to The Muppet Show, usually as the main character. In The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show, he had the job of being the director of the special. In The Muppets at Walt Disney World, it was revealed that the swamp where he grew up at is located near Walt Disney World.

The Muppet ShowEdit

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Kermit became a star when he hosted The Muppet Show, acting as the host and the person ultimately in charge of what went on during the show. During the first season, it seemed as if he treated his fellow cast and crew members more like employees, but later on, as the characters developed, it became clear that they were his friends as well.

In addition to hosting, Kermit regularly got to chat with the guest stars, in the Panel Discussions and Talk Spots, as well as backstage and in some numbers. Some of the guest stars whom Kermit has sang duets with have included Linda Ronstadt, Connie Stevens, Andy Williams, and Debbie Harry.

Kermit also sang on his own on the show many times, singing songs such as "Happy Feet", "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," "Disco Frog," and, of course, "Bein' Green." His duets with other characters include singing "Friendship" and "Octopus' Garden" with his nephew, Robin; he also participated in many group numbers.

Being the main character, Kermit interacted with most of the main cast of the show. He was often pursued by Miss Piggy, who made no secret of her love for him, but Kermit generally rebuffed her advances. Although Piggy loved him, that didn't stop her from karate-chopping him whenever she got mad at him. Miss Piggy unsuccessfully tried to make Kermit jealous of guest star Avery Schreiber, but on some occasions Kermit actually has gotten jealous of male guest stars who Piggy liked, including Peter Ustinov and Christopher Reeve. Kermit has also performed a few duets with Miss Piggy, such as "Waiting at the Church", "Ukelelee Lady", and "I Won't Dance". They even danced together in an At the Dance spot in episode 123.

There have also been many episodes that revolved around Kermit and Miss Piggy. Episode 107 revolved around Miss Piggy persuing Kermit. In episode 211, Miss Piggy had Scooter pay the audience to cheer at her so that Kermit would notice her more. In episode 423, Miss Piggy got some shoes that were too small for her feet, but when Kermit complimented on the shoes, she reluctantly kept them. One of the biggest episodes for them was episode 502, in which, after being annoyed over Miss Piggy telling the gossip papers that they were secretly married, Kermit fired Miss Piggy. However, Kermit eventually did hire her back. In episode 310, Piggy tricks Kermit into a wedding sketch with a real minister she secretly booked. He realized the minister was a real one in the nick of time, however, to Miss Piggy's rage.

He was also good friends with Fozzie Bear. They have appeared together in acts such as "Any Old Iron" and Kermit has reluctantly joined Fozzie for some of his monologues, such as "Good Grief! The Comedians a Bear!" and Fozzie's phrenology act. Kermit let Fozzie help him plan the show for episode 201, and when Kermit suddenly became sick in episode 206, Kermit chose to put Fozzie in charge of hosting.

Other episodes illustrating Kermit and Fozzie's relationship include episode 122, in which Fozzie brings his agent, Irving Bizarre, to the theater to negotiate Fozzie's contract with Kermit; episode 303, in which, after Fozzie mistakenly sends the stagehands to the country, Kermit makes Fozzie do their work, threatening to fire him if he blunders; and episode 105, where Kermit kept asking Fozzie who the many phone calls to the theater were from.

Although he generally functions as the "normal" and calm center of the show, at times Kermit would panic or become annoyed and frustrated with the chaos around him. Sources of his frustration include the antics of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's teleporter (in episode 219), the presence of Mickey Moose (in episode 220) and a robot version of himself (in episode 104), and the various pranks pulled by Fozzie in episode 115. Kermit expressed annoyance at the acts proposed by Gonzo for the show and Crazy Harry's many explosions, and was discomfited by Scooter's frequent reminders that his uncle owned the theater.

Kermit has had major parts in many episodes of the show, and many episodes revolved around Kermit. In episode 112, Kermit became jealous of Peter Ustinov when Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Hilda, and Scooter all talked about how great Peter is, especially since Fozzie and Scooter were saying things about Peter that they had previously said about Kermit. In episode 310, Miss Piggy attempted to wed Kermit by writing a sketch in which they got married, and then tricked Kermit into signing a marriage license; she even booked a real clergyman to play the part of the minister. In episode 410, Kermit hurt his flipper after falling off a trapeze, hitting a light fixture, and later catapulting into Statler and Waldorf's box. In episode 523, Miss Piggy was jealous because Kermit had a crush on guest star Linda Ronstadt and decided to lock Kermit inside a trunk. Kermit's birthday was celebrated in episode 406, although at the end of the episode, it was revealed that it was actually a few months before his real birthday.

MoviesEdit

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For the first three Muppet motion pictures, Kermit was very much the protagonist. His role as a leader, first established on The Muppet Show, was perpetuated in the movies as well.

The Muppet Movie, presented to the viewer as a movie made by the Muppets to explain how they met, revolved around Kermit's journey to Hollywood and the new friends he encountered along the way, friends who shared his dream to make it big in show business. However, Kermit's motive for becoming famous was the chance to "make millions of people happy," rather than financial gain. When offered to appear as the spokesfrog for the Doc Hopper's French Fried Frog Legs restaurant chain, Kermit denied all of Doc Hopper's requests, regardless of the threat of death by the over-zealous Doc. Two of the most well-known moments from the movie involve Kermit. One is the opening sequence, in which he sings one of his best-known songs, "The Rainbow Connection", while playing his banjo in the swamp; the other, his bicycle ride shortly after.

In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit was a reporter who traveled to England with Fozzie Bear and Gonzo to investigate a jewel thief robbery. In this movie, Kermit and Fozzie portrayed themselves as identical twin brothers.

In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit wrote a musical called Manhattan Melodies, which he attempted to put on Broadway. He also worked part-time at Pete's Luncheonette, and wore a few disguises in his attempts to sell the show to Broadway producers. During their big Broadway premiere musical finale, Piggy tricked Kermit into marrying her.

Although he appeared as himself in Muppets from Space, Kermit also took on different identities in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and The Muppets Wizard of Oz, playing the roles of Bob Cratchit, Captain Abraham Smollett, and The Scarecrow, respectively. In all of these films, Kermit played a more secondary role, acting as part of the ensemble rather than the main character.

In 2002, Kermit was featured in the direct-to-video release Kermit's Swamp Years, which offered a glimpse into Kermit's life in the swamp as a young frog.

The Jim Henson HourEdit

Kermit was in charge of MuppeTelevision, the television station run by the Muppets in The Jim Henson Hour. One Kermit-centric episode was "Monster Telethon," in which the other Muppets convinced Kermit to let them help run the show. However, after allowing them to do so, Kermit decided to take a vacation, leaving the others in a panic over what to do.

Other dilemmas that Kermit dealt with included going inside Digit's brain in order to fix him, keeping the ratings up, and mutated garbage.

Kermit also sang some songs on this show, including "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Sweet Vacation." In the show's pilot, Inner Tube, Kermit appeared in scenes where he talked about what "Inner Tube" is.

Muppets TonightEdit

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On Muppets Tonight, Kermit was the producer, and gave hosting duties to Clifford. However, Kermit was still a major character on the series, and even announced who the guest star was in the show's opening (just like he did on The Muppet Show). Kermit appeared in many parody sketches such as NYPD Green, City Schtickers, Flippers, and The Muppet Odd Squad, as well as in the Psychiatrist's Office sketch.

Kermit also sang "Firefly" with Tony Bennett, and he attempted to sing "I Remember It Well" with Cindy Crawford. On his own, he sang "Once in a Lifetime" and "Dancing in the Dark," the latter a flashback to Kermit's short-lived mid-life crisis.

In one episode, Kermit was part of a contest, "Win a Date with Kermit." The winner turned out to be Gilbert Gottfried, who was a big fan of Kermit. In another episode, the station got a new owner, Ernst Stavros Grouper, and after being annoyed with Grouper's demands, his insistence that Kermit become Virgil the Monkey, and his treatment of the Muppets, Kermit quit. After Mr. Grouper apologized, Kermit agreed to come back.

Changing PerformersEdit

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After Jim Henson died, Steve Whitmire took over as Kermit. Whitmire's first performance as Kermit was in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. Kermit appeared at the end of that special. For the next few years, Kermit's function in Muppet productions became reminiscent of his earlier roles in the Tales from Muppetland and other specials, functioning as either narrator or in supporting roles, observing or commenting on the action but rarely as the central focus or starting point of the plot. Examples include his literary parts in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppet Classic Theater. On Muppets Tonight, though Kermit still introduced the guests, he usually played a more detached role, as producer.

As performed by Whitmire, Kermit also hosted the Muppet Sing-Along videos and starred in his own album, Kermit Unpigged. After supporting roles on Muppets Tonight and the first three Muppet movies made after Jim Henson's death, Kermit became the central character in Kermit's Swamp Years and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.

Jane Henson reflected on the recasting, in a 1990 interview: "Steve Whitmire as Kermit: "When Jim was alive, he said if anything happened to him, Kermit must go on right away. Because of Kermit's significant place, Jim had essentially chosen who he thought could do it. But we don't want to say who it is before the show. The performer needs time. Kermit won't come back so strong at first. Then little by little, he will get his whole personality back." [2]

Awards and HonorsEdit

TriviaEdit

  • A statue of Henson and Kermit was erected on the campus of Henson's alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Kermit is the only amphibian to have had the honor of addressing the Oxford Union.[3]
  • Kermit once joked on The 9 that he can puff out his neck to croak, but claims it wouldn't be appropriate for a G-rated website.

SourcesEdit

  1. 1988 Good Morning America interview [1]
  2. TV Guide, Nov.17-23, 1990
  3. The New York Times

RumorsEdit

See alsoEdit

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