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Rizzo the Rat

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Rizzo the Rat is a sly Muppet rat who loves to eat and play tricks on others. He is performed by Steve Whitmire. He speaks in a Brooklyn accent and is often paired with Gonzo.

History

Rizzo the Rat is a rat who has a tendency to crack mocking jokes at others or make fun of them. Sometimes, as seen in The Muppets Take Manhattan, he tries to cheat people into getting something he wants. However, he also has a sensitive side (according to Tim Hill and Gonzo during an audio commentary for Muppets from Space) and is good friends with a couple of characters. He was created by Steve Whitmire after he took a fascination to a bunch of old rat puppets made from bottles by Don Sahlin for The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Whitmire made costumes for Rizzo, and the Muppet Show Fan Club newsletter (vol. 2, no. 4, 1980) claimed that "It is Rizzo's greatest ambition to wear a different costume every time he appears in a shot! Watch out for this well-dressed rodent -- he has every intention of succeeding. Rat on, Rizzo!"

Rizzo first appeared in episode 418 of The Muppet Show, as one of a group of rats following Christopher Reeve around backstage. He can be seen mugging and reacting to practically every line of dialogue. His first known mention by name on-screen was by Kermit in episode 422. He remained a scene-stealing background figure through the final season, occasionally performing with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

He had a minor role in The Great Muppet Caper and a larger supporting part in The Muppets Take Manhattan, but his "big break" occurred when Jerry Juhl paired him with Gonzo to narrate The Muppet Christmas Carol. He has since become one of the principal Muppet characters, also starring in Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, Muppets Tonight, and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (appearing in the latter as the Mayor of Munchkinland).

Since The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rizzo and Gonzo have been best pals. However, that wasn't their first pairing together. They had previously interacted in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, and appeared in a sketch together on Good Morning America, broadcast March 10, 1992. Rizzo and Pepe the King Prawn also seem to have a strong friendship in Muppets from Space. Although Rizzo has no lines in the 2011 film, The Muppets, he and Gonzo were interviewed together behind the scenes. In an interview, Nick Stoller explained that they tried to include as many characters as possible, but couldn't find a spot for him (or Bean Bunny) in the movie. His absence is referenced in Muppets Most Wanted, in a scene where he and Robin point out that the previous film replaced older characters such as themselves with the new character Walter.

In the 1999 book Muppets from Space: The Making of Muppet Movie Magic, Whitmire said:
[Playing Rizzo] was tough at first. I was much more inhibited about the performance because I wasn't sure who he was or what I should do with him. Plus, they wanted him to be a sarcastic sort of New York character. I'm from Atlanta, you know? I mean, I didn't know anything about a sarcastic New York character, so I sort of had to grow into him.
―{{{2}}}


Rizzo also tried to impersonate Mickey Mouse in Muppet Vision 3-D to get money from Sam the Eagle, though his disguise didn't work.

Rizzo is named after Ratso Rizzo, a character from Midnight Cowboy portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. This name was suggested by Frank Oz.

Filmography

Book appearances

Albums

Video Games

  • The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside
  • Muppet RaceMania
  • The Muppets: On with the Show!
  • Muppets Party Cruise
  • My Muppets Show

Gallery

Wiki
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Media

Television shows: The Muppet Show | Muppet Babies | Little Muppet Monsters | MuppeTelevision | Muppets Tonight | The Muppets
Television specials: Hey Cinderella! | The Frog Prince | The Muppet Musicians of Bremen | The Muppets Go to the Movies | The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show | The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years | The Tale of the Bunny Picnic | A Muppet Family Christmas | The Muppets at Walt Disney World | The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson | Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree | Studio DC: Almost Live | A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
Movies: The Muppet Movie | The Great Muppet Caper | The Muppet Christmas Carol | Muppet Treasure Island | The Muppets' Wizard of Oz | The Muppets | Muppets Most Wanted
Video games: My Muppets Show | Animal Drummer | Tap Tap Muppets

Disney Parks

Muppets Courtyard | Muppet*Vision 3D
Entertainment: Here Come the Muppets | Hollywood's Pretty Woman | Muppet Mobile Lab | Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses | The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History
Restaurants: Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano | PizzeRizzo | The Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor (Unbuilt)
Shops: It's A Wonderful Shop | Stage 1 Company Store | The Writer's Stop
Parade: Disney Stars and Motorcars Parade

Characters

Muppets: Kermit the Frog | Miss Piggy | Fozzie Bear | Gonzo | Animal | Rizzo the Rat | Pepe the King Prawn | Statler and Waldorf | Bunsen Honeydew | Beaker | Scooter | Bean Bunny | Dr. Teeth | Floyd Pepper | Janice | Zoot | Rowlf the Dog | Robin the Frog | The Swedish Chef | Sam the Eagle | Sweetums | Bobo the Bear | Uncle Deadly | Camilla | Walter | Clifford | 80s Robot | Thog | Seymour | Lew Zealand | Beauregard | The Moopets | Constantine | Denise
Humans: Max | Doc Hopper | Snake Walker | Professor Krassman | Bernie the Agent | Lew Lord | Gary | Mary | Dominic Badguy | Nadya

Vehicles

The Electric Mayhem Bus | Le Maximum

Songs

The Muppet Movie: The Rainbow Connection | Moving Right Along | Never Before, Never Again | I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along | Can You Picture That? | I'm Going to Go Back There Someday | America
The Great Muppet Caper: Hey a Movie! | Happiness Hotel | Steppin' Out With a Star | Night Life | The First Time It Happens | Couldn't We Ride
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Scrooge | Good King Wenceslas | Marley and Marley | Chairman of the Board | Fozziwig's Party | When Love is Gone | It Feels Like Christmas | Christmas Scat | Bless Us All | Thankful Heart | When Love Is Found
Muppet Treasure Island: Treasure Island | Shiver My Timbers | Something Better | Sailing for Adventure | Cabin Fever | Boom Shakalaka | Love Led Us Here | Love Power | Love Led Us Here
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: Kansas | When I'm With You | Nap Time | The Witch Is in the House | Calling All Munchkins | Good Life
A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa: Delivering Christmas | It's All About Heart | I Wish I Could Be Santa Claus | My Best Christmas Yet
The Muppets: Life's a Happy Song | Pictures in My Head | Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard | We Built This City | Me Party | Let's Talk About Me | Man or Muppet | Smells Like Teen Spirit | Forget You | The Whistling Caruso
Muppets Most Wanted: We're Doing a Sequel | I'm Number One | The Big House | I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) | Interrogation Song | My Heart Will Go On | Something So Right | Working in the Coal Mine | Together Again | Moves Like Jagger | Macarena

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