Think you know your Muppets inside and out (note: inside would be the “hand” part)? Think again… Here’s 10 awesome facts about Jim Henson’s lovable, furry creations you may not know:
1. Miss Piggy Is From Iowa
The karate-chopping oinker is – according to puppeteer and awesome dude Frank Oz – from Iowa originally. Family life? Wicked mother, dead father, and forced to enter beauty contests to pay the bills… That explains why she’s so aggressive, huh? Bonus Fact: Her full name is “Miss Piggy Lee.”
2. Rowlf Pre-Dates The Muppet Show
Okay, a lot of the Muppets pre-date the show, from Kermit – one of the oldest – to even Gonzo. But Rowlf had maybe the most TV experience of the lot, first appearing in Purina Dog Food commercials, then as the sidekick on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963-1966. But the whole time, he hoped that something better would come along…
3. Speaking of Gonzo…
His original name, before Gonzo the Great, was Snarl the Cigar Box Frackle. Seriously. He first appeared in a 1974 TV special, before graduating to the Muppet Show. By comparison, Gonzo is far less weird.
4. The Muppets Are British
I’ve actually been hearing this one around a lot – mainly, “Wait, was The Muppet Show not filmed in America?” The answer is, “Yes.” The show was originally rejected by nearly every network in the USA, before being picked up by ITV in London. It was later broadcast in the US, but because British TV doesn’t have commercial breaks, the American versions had a number of excised bits and songs… They were later restored when the show was on Nickelodeon.
5. Everybody Loves The Swedish Chef (Well, Mostly Everybody)
The nonsense spewing Swede has a ton of fans on and off the crew of The Muppet Show… Jim Henson and Frank Oz loved taking terms playing him, and crew members were such big fans, they would crowd the back of the theater to watch the sketches live (which is why you can often hear such big, booming laughs for those on TV). The only non-fan? Lars Baeckmann, an actual Swedish Chef who claims the character was based off him… Though puppeteers have said that’s not true.
6. Guess What Waldorf’s Wife’s Name Is!
Astoria, of course. The balcony dwelling curmudgeon’s friend Statler is – as far as we know – not married.
7. Muppets Are Lefties
Because most puppeteers work the character’s mouths with their right hands, which only leaves the left hand free to do things like strumming guitars. There are exceptions, sure, but check out the background characters in nearly any Muppet band, and tell me I’m wrong. Go on.
8. Fozzie Girls Don’t Cry
Originally, terrible comedian Fozzie Bear would get upset and cry when his jokes didn’t go over… But audiences were, shall we say, not too comfortable with that, and certainly didn’t find it funny. The character was tweaked, so that he was instead, eternally optimistic about his horrible failures, and became the bear we know and loathe. I mean, love! Wocka, Wocka, Wocka!
9. Dr. Teeth is a Racist (Or Maybe Not)
Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem was originally a five-piece band, until “Lips” joined in Season Five of the Muppet Show. The puppeteer in charge wanted to give him an exaggerated, Louis Armstrong-esque voice, but was worried about being racist… So instead, they made him essentially mute. Yipes.
10. They’re Called The Muppets…For No Reason
The popular story is that the Muppets got their name when Jim Henson combined the words “Marionette” and “Puppet.” Except, they’re not marionettes, right? Turns out, Henson made up the story to please journalists, and he just liked the name. We like it, too.