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 mascot and logo of The Jim Henson Company. He continues to star in the Muppet movies and makes 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 the 2002 video Kermit's Swamp Years. Kermit also has a nephew named Robin.
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" (meaning he thinks they're professionals and she thinks they're in a relationship).
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.
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. The soon-to-be-famous frog had humble origins, as Henson explained in 1977: "I'd paint the scenery, and Janie would carry it in the station wagon. We made the first Kermit from one of my mother's old coats with Ping-Pong balls for his eyes." 
In the early days of the character, Kermit wasn't yet a frog—he was more of a lizard-like, abstract character. As Henson explained, "Kermit started out as a way of building, putting a mouth and covering over my hand. There was nothing in Kermit outside of the piece of cardboard -- it was originally cardboard -- and the cloth shape that was his head. He's one of the simplest kinds of puppets that you can make, and he's very flexible because of that... which gives him a range of expression."
In later years, Henson said that Kermit didn't become a frog until the 1971 special The Frog Prince, a claim that made its way into the 1993 book Jim Henson: The Works.
However, Kermit's froghood asserted itself as early as 1965, when Johnny Carson referred to him as "Kermit the Frog" on a December 31 Tonight Show appearance. The 1966 Montgomery Wards catalog which featured the Ideal Muppet puppets refers to Kermit as a "fanciful frog". Kermit refers to himself as a frog in the 1968 special The Muppets on Puppets. The special Hey Cinderella!, which was recorded in 1968, featured a redesigned Kermit puppet; his round feet were replaced with flippers, and he was given a fringed collar with eleven points. By the time that Kermit appeared on the Sesame Street Pitch Reel, 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 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, Billy Bunny's Animal Songs, 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.
Kermit was one of the main characters in the hour-long TV special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa that aired on NBC, and also appeared in the Studio DC: Almost Live specials that aired on Disney Channel.
The Muppet Show
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 sung 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", "Ukulele 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 pursuing 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 teleportation device (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, getting hit by a faulty light fixture, and later catapulting into Statler and Waldorf's box (this episode put Piggy in the "over-protective mother" position). 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.
For the first three Muppet motion pictures, Kermit was very much the main 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 afterwards.
The Muppet Movie started it all with Kermit in the swamp, playing his banjo and singing The Rainbow Connection when he meets a Hollywood agent named Bernie (Dom DeLuise), who discovers Kermit's talent and shows him an ad about a studio holding open auditions for frogs to become "rich and famous". Thinking about making millions of people happy, the frog set out west to Hollywood.
He came to the El Sleezo Cafe where he met Fozzie Bear, who performed in front of a booing audience and Kermit helped him by dancing. He later invites Fozzie to join him in Hollywood. The frog and bear drove to Hollywood by studebaker and ignoring Doc Hopper's offers to be in his frog legs commercials. The pair stopped at an old church where they encountered Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and their manager Scooter, who were turning that church into a coffee house. Kermit and Fozzie gave them the screenplay and the band helped them by painting the car so they wouldn't be recognized.
Later, after the disguise worked, Kermit and Fozzie meet Gonzo and his chicken girlfriend Camilla who wanted to go to Bombay, India to become movie stars, which is the wrong way. (Fozzie: We picked up a weirdo.) The group stopped at Mad Man Mooney's (Milton Berle) Hubcap Heaven to acquire a bigger car. Sweetums, Mooney's jack, wanted to come and follows them. (Kermit thought he didn't want to come.) They stopped at a county fair where they meet Miss Piggy, who instantly lays eyes on Kermit upon winning a beauty peagant.
Later, they went out on a date and Piggy received a phone call and left, leaving Kermit depressed. He meets Rowlf the Dog who tells him about the trouble with women. Later, Kermit receives a call from Doc Hopper that he captured Piggy and orders him to come outside, which he does and gets captured as well. Doc hired Professor Max Krassman (Mel Brooks) to brainwash Kermit so he will do the frog leg commercials. Just as he was about to do the experimenting, Piggy attacks Doc's henchmen, frees Kermit and Krassman becomes the victim of his own invention. After Miss Piggy receives a call, she leaves.
After that, Rowlf joins the group and Miss Piggy rejoins. Soon their car broke down and they became stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Kermit feels upset, thinking that he let everyone down. His conscience tells him that whether he promised something or not, they wanted to come...not because they believed in him, but in their dreams (as does Kermit). He thinks that he was wrong when he said he never promised them, but him. Then, Dr. Teeth, the Electric Mayhem and Scooter reappeared, thanks to the script, and gave them a ride on their bus.
On their way, they are stopped by Hopper's sidekick Max, who warns Kermit about a frog-killer that Doc hired, who is going to kill Kermit. Kermit decides to do a showdown with Doc at a ghost town where they meet Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker. Doc Hopper arrives and Kermit tries to talk Doc into backing off so he and his friends can follow their dream, but Doc orders his men to kill the frog until they are ultimately scared off by Animal who grows large after eating Honeydew's Instant Grow pills.
The gang finally arrives in Hollywood and asks Lew Lord (Orson Welles) to audition, which leads him to prepare the "standard rich and famous contract for Kermit the Frog and Company". The Muppets make their first movie, which is about what they've done before that the audience watched all along. An accident occurred, causing the sets to collapse and explosions to occur. After the smoke clears, a rainbow stream appears through the now-damaged ceiling of the soundstage and all the Muppet characters (including the cast Sesame Street) sing one last reprise of The Rainbow Connection.
In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit was a reporter who traveled to England with Fozzie Bear and Gonzo to investigate a jewel 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 TV movie 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.
Also in 2002, Kermit was one of the main characters in the full-length TV movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. Loosely based on the classic film It's a Wonderful Life, Kermit learns what the world would be like if he was never born.
Kermit was a main character once again in the 2011 film The Muppets. Disney's official description of his role in the film is as follows:
- “In Disney's The Muppets, Kermit the Frog lives a quiet, solitary life. It's been a few years since the Muppets last performed together and Kermit doesn't realize how much he misses his friends until he's tracked down by Walter, Gary and Mary from Smalltown, USA, and convinced to reunite with the rest of the Muppets to save Muppet Studios.
Returning to the role he made famous in six previous Muppet movies, "The Muppet Show" and countless TV specials and internet videos, is Kermit the Frog. "I've played other parts, like Bob Crachit in A Muppet Christmas Carol and Captain Smollett in Muppet Treasure Island, says Kermit, "but I think me is my favorite part."
The role is a bit of a departure for the frog known for his unifying spirit and award-winning songs like "The Rainbow Connection." "The movie is filled with comedy, music and adventure—like all the Muppet movies," says Kermit. "But I play quite a dramatic role. You see a side of me that maybe you haven't see before—and I'm not just taking about new camera angles. Acting wise, I really stretch to play me. One of my favorite moments is singing a brand new original song called 'Pictures in my Head.' I walk through the halls of a big mansion looking at portraits of my Muppet friends and missing those guys. It was very emotional…and I think it will disprove critics who've said 'the frog can't emote.'" Kermit, who's always the glue that holds the Muppets together, has a big job in this movie, going head to head with Tex Richman—a guy who's lost his laugh—to save the studio.”
The Jim Henson Hour
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 dealing with mutated garbage.
Kermit also sang some songs on this show, including "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Sweet Vacation." In episode 109, he told a story about how the nightinggale got its voice.
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 attempted to sing "I Remember It Well" with Cindy Crawford. On his own, he sang "Once in a Lifetime," "Strolling Through the Park One Day" to Heather Locklear 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.
After Jim Henson died, Steve Whitmire took over as Kermit. Whitmire's first performance as Kermit was at the end of the TV special The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. 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 the direct-to-video Muppet Classic Theater. On Muppets Tonight, though Kermit still introduced the guest stars at the beginning of each episode, he usually played a more detached role as executive 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." Before Steve took over Kermit, he did some assistant puppetry by using a remote control device to operate Kermit's hand during his Rainbow Connection number at the beginning of The Muppet Movie.
John Kennedy performed Kermit for a demonstration at Muppetfest in 2001 (opposite Whitmire's "young Kermit") and in 2006 for the Disney Cruise Line stage show Muppets Ahoy! During September 2009, Kermit was performed by Artie Esposito for appearances on America's Got Talent, the MTV Video Music Awards and the second day of the D23 Expo singing "The Rainbow Connection" (Kermit was mute in other footage taped for the event and absent from subsequent days. It was explained to the audience that this was because he was in New York at the VMAs).
Awards and Honors
- He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Amphibious Letters on May 19, 1996 at Southampton College, where he also gave a commencement speech.
- Kermit received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.
- Kermit's song "The Rainbow Connection" was nominated for an Academy Award, as was "The First Time It Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper.
- Kermit has also received fictional awards, such as the aforementioned Fred Award, and in The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street, The Frog of the Year Award.
- 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.
- In Sesame Street: A Celebration - 40 Years of Life on the Street, Kermit's catch phrase is spelled "Heigh ho" rather than "Hi ho."
- Kermit made a cameo in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium shopping for frog toys.
- Jim Henson's last appearances as Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street includes a Sesame Street News Flash segment in which Kermit interviews a bird whose parents live in different trees and the song "I Wonder 'Bout the World Above Up There".
- When Steve Whitmire was mailed the Kermit puppet for the first time, he noticed that it "smelled like Jim." When he put the puppet on to perform in front of a mirror, he had Kermit turn around to him, seeming to be encouraging him to say something. Whitmire was so scared that he shelved it in another room and didn't even look at it for almost a month.
- Kermit, unlike most Muppets (and frogs), has five fingers.
- In a November 2011 appearance on George Stroumboulopoulos, Kermit says he has transparent eyelids.
- Kermit appears to have a crush on Mila Kunis: during the Muppets's appearance on Google+ Hangout, Miss Piggy demanded to know why he was looking up "Mila Kunis images."
- In the 1990 TV Special: The Muppets at Walt Disney World, Kermit mentions to have known Mickey Mouse for a long time and that the two of them are both members of F.A.S.A.(Fictional Animal Stars of America).
- Kermit noticeably sucks in his head. It is unknown if it is because he is breathing or nervous.
- ↑ "Is This Any Way for Grownups to Make a Living? Yes, for Muppet Masters Jim & Jane Henson", Nellie Blagden, People. November 7, 1977.
- ↑ Video on YouTube.com (Accessed February 17, 2010.)
- ↑ Jim Henson: The Works, Christopher Finch, 1993, Random House, p. 244.
- ↑ The New York Times
- ↑ Plume, Kenneth Muppet Central interview
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