History of The Muppets

Believe it or not, these world famous creations were first introduced all the way back in 1955 by Jim Henson, a college student at the University of Maryland. It was at this time that the first incarnation of what would become the Muppets were created for the kid’s show ‘Sam and Friends.’ Surprisingly, the energetic combination of marionettes and puppets soon became extremely popular with the public. As a result, they made appearances on various national variety shows and commercials, before becoming a fixture on the groundbreaking educational show Sesame Street. Eventually getting their own primetime show, it spurred the international superstardom of its cast, all while appealing to a wide variety of audiences. In this video, WatchMojo.com takes a look at the history of The Muppets.
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History of The Muppets


They have entertained generations of children. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the history of the Muppets.

Believe it or not, these world famous creations were first introduced all the way back in 1955 by Jim Henson, a college student at the University of Maryland. It was at this time that the first incarnation of what would become the Muppets were created for the kid’s show ‘Sam and Friends.’ Surprisingly, the energetic combination of marionettes and puppets soon became extremely popular with the public. As a result, they made appearances on various national variety shows and commercials, while appearing as guests on talk shows.

However, it was only in 1969 that Henson was asked to help helm the groundbreaking educational show Sesame Street. While Henson’s Muppets were originally envisioned as just one element of the program, they soon became the show’s core. This is due to the overwhelming popularity of its iconic creations, which included Oscar The Grouch, The Cookie Monster, Grover, Big Bird and Bert and Ernie.

Eight years later in 1976, Henson launched his own project called ‘The Muppet Show.’ This primetime variety program consisted of sketches, songs and guest stars. Equaling the success of Sesame Street, the new show was designed for children of all ages and their parents to enjoy together.

Surprisingly, it spurred the international superstardom of the show’s charming host Kermit the Frog, and his love interest and diva Miss Piggy. Of course it also gave us a wealth of other lovable characters. These included Fozzie Bear, the Swedish chef, Gonzo The Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, his assistant Beaker, and the house band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. The popularity of this cast is attributed to the fact that the characters can be anything, including humans, animals, robots, aliens and anything else in-between. As a result, this multi-species cast was able to transcend the issues of race, and instead focused on the values of friendship and cultural harmony, and all while being perceived of as living creatures by the audience.

As for the production involved, it may surprise you to know that Kermit The Frog originally appeared on ‘Sam and Friends’ years earlier, and was originally meant to be a lizard! This would have become a reality, except that Henson couldn’t find frills for the character’s neck. Having already cut-up his mother’s green coat, and using old ping-pong balls for eyes, he created the closest thing he could think of.

Incidentally, Kermit served as the original template for all of his Muppet Show co-stars. As a result, they similarly featured a wide mouth and large eyes; and were made of foam, rubber and other soft materials, instead of wood. In addition to this, they were also controlled by rods, rather then strings, as this gave Henson’s a creations a greater range of movements than ever before.

Even after the show ended its four-year run in 1981, the original Muppet cast and creations continued to entertain audiences with several movie outings. These included The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.

While at the same time, Henson’s production team lent their talents to creating the underground civilization of Fraggle Rock, the nursery spin-off Muppet Babies, as well as the fantastic worlds found in the films, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

In 1990, Jim Henson passed away unexpectedly from pneumonia at the age of 53. His Muppet creations conducted a high profile ceremony in his honor.

Fourteen Years later, Walt Disney acquired the rights to the Muppets from The Jim Henson Company. Soon after they created the television movie “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz’ and later released several videos for Youtube. These included their famous take on the Bohemian Rapsody.

Wishing to re-kindle the franchise, they formed the Muppet Studio in 2009 and re-released these videos in the HD format.

At the same time they began production on the Muppets 2011 theatrical film release, which was created to re-introduce the characters to a new generation of fans.
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