Kermit the Frog, 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. He also has a nephew named Robin.
Miss Piggy insists that she and Kermit got married in the 1984 live-action film The Muppets Take Manhattan and that they're very happy. He 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 "Yaaay!" (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 Jane 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. Is this any way for grown-ups to make a living? Yes, for Muppet Masters Jim and Jane Henson", Nellie Blagden, People, November 7, 1977.
In the early days of the character, Kermit was not yet a frog—he was more of a lizard-like, abstract creature. As Henson explained, "Kermit started out as a way of building, putting a mouth and covering over my hand. There was nothing in him 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 1968 special Hey Cinderella!.
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 Ward catalog which featured the Ideal Muppet puppets refers to him as a "fanciful frog". HE refers to himself as a frog in the 1968 special The Muppets on Puppets. Hey Cinderella! 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 he appeared in the Sesame Street Pitch Reel, he was a full-fledged frog.
Kermit sported a double collar for a brief period in the early 1970's, including 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 TV 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, he 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 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 the 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 he sang duets with 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 he generally rebuffed her advances. Although she loved him, that didn't stop her from karate-chopping him whenever she got mad at him. She unsuccessfully tried to make him jealous of guest star Avery Schreiber, but on some occasions, he actually has gotten jealous of male guest stars who she liked, including Peter Ustinov and Christopher Reeve. He has also performed a few duets with her, 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 her pursuing him. In episode 211, she had Scooter pay the audience to cheer at her so that he would notice her more. In episode 423, she got some shoes that were too small for her feet, but when he complimented on them, she reluctantly kept them. One of the biggest episodes for them was episode 502, in which, after being annoyed over her telling the gossip papers that they were secretly married, Kermit fired her. However, he eventually did hire her back. In episode 310, she tricks him 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 her 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 him for some of his monologues, such as "Good Grief! The Comedians a Bear!" and his phrenology act. Kermit let Fozzie help him plan the show for episode 201, and when Kermit suddenly became sick in episode 206, he 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 his contract with Kermit; episode 303, in which, after he mistakenly sends the stagehands to the country, Kermit makes him do their work, threatening to fire him if he blunders; and episode 105, where Kermit kept asking him 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. He 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 him. In episode 112, he 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 him by writing a sketch in which they got married and then tricked him 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 Miss Piggy in the "over-protective mother" position). In episode 523, she was jealous because he had a crush on guest star Linda Ronstadt and decided to lock him inside a trunk. His birthday was celebrated in episode 406, although at the end, 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, his 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 Doc Hopper's French Fried Frog Legs restaurant chain, he denies all of Doc's requests, regardless of the threat of death by the over-zealous Doc. Two of the most well-known moments from the movie involve him. 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 movie starts 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 hiss 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, he sets out west for Hollywood.
He comes to the El Sleezo Cafe where he met Fozzie, who performs in front of a booing audience and Kermit helps him by dancing. He later invites Fozzie to join him in Hollywood. They drive to Hollywood by Studebaker and ignoring Doc Hopper's offers to be in his commercials. They stop at an old church where they encounter Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and their manager, Scooter, who are turning it into a coffee house. Kermit and Fozzie give them the screenplay and they help them by painting the car so they won't be recognized.
Later, after the disguise works, Kermit and Fozzie meet Gonzo and his chicken girlfriend, Camilla, who want to go to Bombay to become movie stars, which is the wrong way. (Fozzie: We picked up a weirdo.) They stop at Mad Man Mooney's (Milton Berle) Hubcap Heaven to acquire a bigger car. Sweetums, his jack, wants to come and follows them. (Kermit thought he didn't want to.) They stop at a county fair where they meet Miss Piggy, who instantly lays eyes on Kermit upon winning a beauty pageant.
Later, they go out on a date and Miss 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 who says that he captured Miss Piggy and orders him to come outside, which he does and gets captured as well. Doc hires Professor Krassman (Mel Brooks) to brainwash Kermit so he will do the commercials. Just as he was about to do the experimenting, Miss 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 breaks 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 reappear, thanks to the script, and give them a ride on their bus.
On their way, they are stopped by Doc Hopper's sidekick Max, who warns Kermit about Snake Walker (Scott Walker), a frog-killer that Doc hired, who is going to kill him. He decides to do a showdown with Doc in a ghost town where they meet Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker. Doc arrives and Kermit tries to talk him into backing off so he and his friends can follow their dream, but Doc orders his men to kill them, until they are ultimately scared off by Animal who grows large after eating Honeydew's Insta-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 and Company". They 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 Sesame Street cast) sing one last reprise of "The Rainbow Connection".
Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo play newspaper reporters for the Daily Chronicle. Kermit and Fozzie, specifically, are playing identical twin reporters, which becomes the source of a running gag - supposedly, nobody can tell they are twins unless Fozzie wears his hat. They are eventually assigned to investigate the theft of valuable jewels from fashion designer Lady Holiday (Diana Rigg), which they have to beg for after their boss Mike Tarkenian (Jack Warden) dismisses them following the Daily Chronicle's headline about them joining the staff (while the other papers report on the jewel heist).
They travel to London to interview her, but with only $12 for the trip, they are forced to fly in the airplane's baggage hold and are thrown out as they arrive over England while it continues on to Italy. After getting thrown out of a bus, they stay at the dilapidated (but free) Happiness Hotel, run and populated by Pops, Scooter, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. When Kermit seeks out Lady Holiday in her office however, he instead finds Miss Piggy, the love of his life, and fails to recognize her, mistaking her for the fashion designer. Back at the Happiness Hotel, Fozzie and Gonzo prepare Kermit for a date with her, though he, at first, explains he is going with her alone, and seeing how disappointed Fozzie feels, Kermit invites him and the other Muppets on it. Miss Piggy (who was interviewing for a job) masquerades as Lady Holiday, even going so far as to sneak into a ritzy townhouse (located at 17 Highbrow Street) to impress him with her dwellings much to the surprise of the true British residents Neville (John Cleese) and Dorcas (Joan Sanderson).
At a night club restaurant, Kermit and Miss Piggy dance together, unbeknownst that Lady Holiday's necklace is stolen by her jealous brother, Nicky (Charles Grodin), and his assistants, Marla, Carla, and Darla. During the robbery, Miss Piggy's charade is revealed and she leaves Kermit behind. The next day, in a park, after she hurtles a man in a lake after he gets his hands on her, Kermit tells her that she lied to him because she fell in love with him and warns her that Nicky (who she was dancing with) was a jewel thief, but she retorts to him that he is jealous and they get into an argument, upsetting her. They apologize to each other and take a bike ride around the park. Kermit, on one point, tries a few tricks and ends up getting stuck in a tree. Piggy catches him in her arms on her bicycle, and the other Muppets and humans join them on theirs.
After taking part in a masquerading and swimming opera concert, Miss Piggy accidentally dives into a fountain. Despite Nicky's instant attraction to her, they successfully frame her for the theft and plan to steal an even more valuable prize - the coveted The Fabulous Baseball Diamond, which is on display at The Mallory Gallery. Unfortunately for them, Gonzo is under a nearby table and overhears them. Kermit's crew, along with their friends from the Happiness Hotel, have no choice but to intercept and catch the thieves themselves in order to vindicate Miss Piggy. Kermit, disguised as a prison lawyer, visits her prison and explains to her that he and the other Muppets will get her out of there and stop Nicky, Marla, Carla, and Darla from stealing the Baseball Diamond to prove she is innocent, and they share a spontaneous kiss, getting wire marks on his face and his fake mustache on her snout.
The Muppets get to the Mallory Gallery and get to the Baseball Diamond at the same time as the thieves use it in a game of keep-away and later baseball, while Louis Kazagher commentates. Miss Piggy, meanwhile, has escaped from prison and, in a bout of serendipity, finds a motorcycle which she uses to crash into the Gallery's window, knocking Nicky, who is holding Kermit hostage, out in the process. Marla, Carla, and Darla confront her, only to be quickly dispatched by a flurry of furious karate chops. As the police arrive, she is cleared from all charges, Nicky, Marla, Carla, and Darla are arrested, and the Muppets get their deserved credit for foiling the heist. They then return to America the same way they departed, being thrown out of the cargo hold and parachuting back to Earth, over the end credits.
In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit writes a musical called Manhattan Melodies, which he attempted to put on Broadway. He also works part-time at Pete's Luncheonette, and wears a few disguises in his attempts to sell the show to Broadway producers. While having amnesia after getting hit by a cab, he takes a job as an Ocean Breeze producer with three other frogs, Bill, Jill, and Gill, until his real friends find him and whisk him away to the New York City theatre. Miss Piggy restores his memory with a punch after he mocks the idea of romance between a pig and a frog. During their big Broadway premiere musical finale, she tricks him into marrying her. This later played a major role in the 2011 Muppets film.
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, he 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 his 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, he learns what the world would be like if he was never born.
Kermit was the main character once again in the 2011 film The Muppets, alongside new Muppet member Walter. 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. "I've played other parts, like Bob Cratchit in The 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 talking 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.'" He, 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 him to let them help run the show. However, after allowing them to do so, he decided to take a vacation, leaving the others in a panic over what to do. Other dilemmas that he 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 nightingale got its voice.
On Muppets Tonight, Kermit was the producer and gave hosting duties to Clifford. However, he 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). 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 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 his 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 his. In another episode, the station got a new owner, Ernst Stavros Grouper, and after being annoyed with Grouper's demands, his insistence that he become Virgil the Monkey and his treatment of the Muppets, he quit. After Mr. Grouper apologized, he agreed to come back.
After Jim Henson died, Steve Whitmire took over as Kermit. Whitmire's first performance as him was at the end of the TV special The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. For the next few years, his 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 he 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, he 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 his 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, he 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" (He 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
- Kermit was awarded an honorary doctorate of Amphibious Letters on May 19, 1996 at Southampton College, where he also gave a commencement speech.
- He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002.
- His song "The Rainbow Connection" was nominated for an Academy Award, as was "The First Time It Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper.
- He 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 the former's alma mater, the University of Maryland, College Park.
- He 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, his catch phrase is spelled "Heigh ho" rather than "Hi ho."
- Kermit makes a cameo in Disney/Touchstone's 2011 CG film Gnomeo & Juliet on the front of Mr. Capulet's T-shirt.
- He made a cameo in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium shopping for frog toys.
- Jim Henson's last appearances as Kermit on Sesame Street includes a Sesame Street News Flash segment in which he 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 it on to perform in front of a mirror, he had him 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 on each hand.
- In a November 2011 appearance on George Stroumboulopoulos, he says he has transparent eyelids.
- However, in an interview with him and Ross Lynch for Muppets Most Wanted, he states that none of the Muppets ever blink.
- He appears to have a crush on Mila Kunis: during the Muppets' 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, he mentions to have known Mickey Mouse for a long time and that the 2 of them are both members of F.A.S.A. (Fictional Animal Stars of America).
- He noticeably sucks in his head when he is breathing or nervous.
- He, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Camilla, and the other chickens appeared on the Good Luck Charlie episode Duncan Dream House and singing "Dream House".
- In Disney INFINITY, Kermit the Frog appears as a townsperson.
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