Kermit the Frog


Kermit the Frog
Kermit the Frog
Sesame Street and The Muppet Show character
New kermit.png
First appearance 1955 on Sam and Friends
Created by Jim Henson
Voiced by Jim Henson (1955–1990; deceased)
Steve Whitmire (1990–present)
Artie Esposito (Understudy, 2009)
John Kennedy (MuppetFest demonstration, 2001, Disney Cruise Lines, 2006)
Frank Welker (Muppet Babies and in animation)
Information
Aliases Froggy Baby (referred to by Grover), Kermie (referred to by Miss Piggy), Green Stuff (referred to by Floyd Pepper), Kermin (referred to by Pepe the King Prawn)
Gender Male

Kermit the Frog is puppeteer Jim Henson's most famous Muppet creation, first introduced in 1955. He is the protagonist of many Muppet projects, most notably as the host of The Muppet Show, and has appeared in various sketches on Sesame Street, in commercials and in public service announcements over the years. Kermit was performed by Henson until his death in 1990. Since then, Kermit has been performed by Steve Whitmire. He was voiced by Frank Welker in Muppet Babies and occasionally in other animation projects.

Kermit performed the hit single "The Rainbow Connection" in 1979 for The Muppet Movie, the first feature-length film featuring Henson's Muppets. The song reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kermit's iconic look and voice have been recognizable worldwide since, and in 2006, the character was credited as the author of Before You Leap: A Frog's Eye View of Life's Greatest Lessons, which is an "autobiography" told from the perspective of the character himself.


Contents

Kermit's development

The earliest ever trace of Kermit first appeared in 1955 on WRC-TV's Sam and Friends. This prototype Kermit was created from a turquoise woman-size coat that Henson's mother had thrown into a waste bin, and two ping pong ball halves for eyes.

Initially, Kermit was seen as a lizard-like creature. He subsequently made a number of television appearances before his status as a frog was established, which was shortly before Sesame Street began. His collar was added at the time to make him seem more froglike and to conceal the seam between his head and body.

Naming

On more than one occasion[1][2] the press has stated that Kermit's name was taken from Jim Henson's childhood friend Kermit Scott, from Leland, Mississippi. However, Karen Falk, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Jim Henson Legacy and serves as head archivist for the company, denies this on the Jim Henson Company's website:

While Jim Henson did have a childhood acquaintance named Kermit, it was not an uncommon name at the time, and Jim always said that the Frog was NOT named for this child from his elementary school.[3]

Another common story is that Kermit was named for Kermit Love, who worked with Henson in designing and constructing Muppets, particularly on Sesame Street. But Love's association with Henson did not begin until well after Kermit's creation and naming, and he always denied any connection between his name and that of the character.[4]

As Sesame Street is localized for some different markets that speak languages other than English, Kermit is often renamed. In Portugal, he's called Cocas, o Sapo (sapo means "toad"), and in Brazil, his name is similar: Caco, o Sapo. In most of Latin America, his name is la rana René (René the Frog). In Spain, he is named Gustavo. In the Arabic Middle Eastern version, he's known as Kamel, which is a common Arabic male name that means "perfect". In Hungary, he is called Breki. In Turkey, although he's known as Kermit on The Muppet Show, in Sesame Street episodes, he was called Kurbağacık ("little frog"). With the release of The Muppets in 2011, most of the aforementioned countries have reverted to using "Kermit" as the character's name.

Character biography

On an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Kermit commented to Ty Pennington, "You know, as a tadpole in the swamp, I had 3,265 brothers and sisters!" According to the 2002 film Kermit's Swamp Years, at the age of 12, he was the first of his siblings to leave the swamp, and one of the first frogs to talk to humans. He is portrayed as encountering a 12-year-old Jim Henson (played by Christian Kebbel) for the first time.

According to The Muppet Movie Kermit returned to the swamp, where a passing agent (Dom DeLuise) noted he had talent and, thus inspired, he headed to Hollywood, encountering the rest of the Muppets along the way. Together, they were given a standard "rich and famous" contract by Lew Lord (Orson Welles) of Wide World Studios and began their showbiz careers. In Before You Leap, Kermit again references encountering Jim Henson sometime after the events depicted in the course of The Muppet Movie and details their friendship and their partnership in the entertainment industry, and credits Henson as being the individual to whom he owes his fame. At some point after the events of The Muppet Movie, Kermit and the other Muppets begin The Muppet Show, and the characters remain together as a group, before starring in the other Muppet films and Muppets Tonight, with Kermit usually at the core of the stories as the lead protagonist. The Muppet Movie says that the events of the movie "approximate how it happened" (referring to how the Muppets got started) when asked about the film by his nephew Robin.

The character regards Fozzie Bear as his best friend—a fact reiterated by Kermit in Before You Leap—and the two were frequently seen together during sketches on The Muppet Show and in other Muppet-related media and merchandise.

Appearances

Kermit's earliest incarnation on Sam and Friends

Sesame Street

Kermit was one of the original Muppet characters on Sesame Street. Though he was intended to be removed from the cast after the first season, he returned as a full-time character in the third, and remained a regular character for many years. Closely identified with the show, he often appeared as an easily frustrated lecturer, a straight man to the humorous antics of another Muppet, or a news reporter interviewing storybook characters for Sesame Street News. He most often interacted with Grover and, to a slightly lesser extent, Cookie Monster. The various songs he sang on Sesame Street tended to be meaningful in nature, most memorably his song "Bein' Green".

Following the death of Jim Henson, Kermit was used less frequently on Sesame Street, but still made new appearances until 2001. Unlike the rest of the show's Muppets, he was not created for the exclusive use of Sesame Workshop, and has rarely been a part of the show's merchandise. All Muppet characters originally belonged to the Jim Henson Company, but when the opportunity came for Sesame Workshop to buy its characters for $180 million, Kermit was not included in the deal.

The character now belongs to The Muppets Studio (owned and controlled by the Walt Disney Company). Sesame Workshop does have permission to use old sketches featuring Kermit, but such sketches are rarely used in new episodes. Kermit made his first new appearance since 2001 in the show's fortieth season premiere on November 10, 2009.

With the Muppets

In The Muppet Show television series, Kermit was the central character, the frontman and the long-suffering stage manager of the theatre show, trying to keep order amidst the chaos created by the other Muppets. Jim Henson once claimed that Kermit's job on the Muppet Show was much like his own: "trying to get a bunch of crazies to actually get the job done." It was on this show that the running joke of Kermit being pursued by leading lady Miss Piggy developed.

On Muppets Tonight, Kermit was still a main character, although he was the producer rather than frontman. He 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 served as the mascot for The Jim Henson Company, until the sale of the Muppet characters to the Walt Disney Company. A Kermit puppet can be seen at the National Museum of American History.[5]

Kermit has also played a central role in all of the Muppet movies except for Muppets from Space which was focused on Gonzo the Great.

Disney Parks

Kermit appears in Muppet*Vision 3D, an attraction found at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and at Disney California Adventure, at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The attractions opened in 1991 and 2001, respectively.

Guest appearances and parodies

Kermit the Frog was seen in The Earth Day Special. A skit featured Kermit, Robin, and other inhabitants of a swamp that has been devastated watching the broadcast and discussing how pollution is ruining the Earth.

Baby Kermit was one of the cartoon characters featured in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.

Kermit has made numerous guest appearances on popular television shows, including co-hosting individual episodes of a number of long-running talk shows: On April 2, 1979, Kermit guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and as an April Fool's joke, Kermit hosted CNN's Larry King Live in 1994 and interviewed Hulk Hogan.[6] Kermit was also a semi-regular during the last two seasons of the Tom Bergeron-hosted Hollywood Squares, continuing a quasi-tradition of Muppets appearing on the game show (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch made several appearances on the original Squares).

Most of Kermit's appearances as a guest star include him being treated as a "real" (non-puppet) character. This pretense has been continued into other media: In 1993 Pocket Books published One Frog Can Make A Difference, Kermit's Guide to Life with Kermit as the author. In 1987, Kermit and other Muppet characters co-hosted an ABC News special which attempted to explain the stock market and the potentially disquieting events of the Black Monday stock price decline in a manner that both informed and entertained the audience about the complex subject. He appears as a game contestant on the show To Tell The Truth. He also appeared as an audience member, occasionally helping the human contestants, on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Kermit also guest appeared on An Audience With... Kylie Minogue. Kermit & Kylie performed a duet of her hit song "Especially For You". It aired on ITV in the UK on October 6, 2001. In 2009, Kermit accompanied pop singer Lady Gaga at the MTV Music Video Awards.

His popularity has also led to his appearance in advertisements for a range of products. In January 2006, in a commercial for the Ford Escape Hybrid premiering during the Super Bowl, Kermit was featured singing "Bein' Green"; he is also featured in Ford's print ads for their hybrid vehicle. He also has co-starred alongside Miss Piggy and Jessica Simpson in Pizza Hut commercials in previous Super Bowl commercials. In previous years, he and Miss Piggy were part of the "We want to race the truck" UPS ad campaign involving NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett and his sponsor's "prodding" him to drive a brown UPS truck in a race. On April 9, 2006, he filled in for Ty Pennington on the ABC (network) reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. On June 28, 2006, he also appeared on Charles Gibson's final episode of "Good Morning America" as Gibson's "adopted son".

Due to his popularity, easy recognizability, and distinctive voice, Kermit has become a popular target for parody: Kermit has been referenced dozens of times on several television series and films, as Vomiting Kermit on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, on Family Guy, Meet the Feebles, in the Internet fan video Sad Kermit and Kermit Bale, a series of photos comparing him to actor Christian Bale. On a Home Improvement episode titled "Futile Attraction", Tim calls Al pretending to be Kermit. For a comprehensive list of Kermit parodies, see the Muppet Mentions category on Muppet Wiki.

From 1983 to 1995, the French political satire show Le Bébête Show used copies of various Muppets to parody key political figures, and Kermit, renamed "Kermitterrand", embodied President François Mitterrand.[7]

Awards and commemorations

Kermit the Frog's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Kermit was awarded an honorary doctorate of Amphibious Letters on May 19, 1996 at Southampton College, New York, where he also gave a commencement speech.[8] He is also the only amphibian to have had the honor of addressing the Oxford Union.[9] A statue of Henson and Kermit was erected on the campus of Henson's alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park in 2003.

Kermit was also given the honor of being the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1996.

On Kermit's 50th birthday, the United States Postal Service released a set of new stamps with photos of Kermit and some of his fellow Muppets on them. The background of the stamp sheet features a photo of a silhouetted Henson sitting in a window well, with Kermit sitting in his lap looking at him.

In 2006, while Kermit was on his international tour, Kermit, Texas was taken over by the frog during their homecoming week, ending with Kermit himself crowning the homecoming queen. The city of Kermit's main water tower was then painted with the face and signature of the frog.

Kermit was also the grand marshal for Michigan State University's homecoming parade in 2006.[10]

Filmography

References

External links


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