Clifford is the hip Muppet who first appeared in 1989 on The Jim Henson Hour before being selected to host Muppets Tonight in 1996. He is often seen wearing sunglasses, and his multi-colored dreadlocks give his appearance a Rastafarian feel. Although his facial features, particularly his lips and mustache, are somewhat reminiscent of a catfish, as Kermit the Frog pointed out in episode 102 of Muppets Tonight, Clifford is a humanoid Muppet, much in the same vein as Scooter.
The Jim Henson Hour and early appearances
On The Jim Henson Hour, Clifford was the bass player for the band Solid Foam. With the main exception of Digit, he was seen at Muppet Central more than any other member of the band. One of his more notable appearances outside of the band was in episode 102, where he told a story about evolution and the environment. His next major appearance after The Jim Henson Hour ended was in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, where he joined the Electric Mayhem as an auxiliary percussionist.
Clifford once appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show alongside Kermit the Frog to promote the special. In this appearance, he revealed that he doesn't have a last name and that he enjoys being spanked. When asked by Arsenio Hall on why he joined the Muppets, Clifford stated it was either join them or Milli Vanilli.
In the Muppets Inside CD-ROM game, Clifford hosted a Name That Tune-style game show called Scope That Song.
Although he appeared in several smaller productions in the years that followed, Clifford's most prominent role to date was hosting Muppets Tonight. Whereas in his previous appearances, he had been depicted as a laid-back character, the pressures of hosting the show often caused him to lose his cool, such as in the premiere episode where he was cast as the host and told to immediately go on camera without any preparation whatsoever.
In preliminary discussions for the next Muppet series, Kevin Clash claims that Jim Henson was behind the decision to have Clifford take on the lead role, with Kermit the station manager, a decision kept by the producers. (YouTube)
In episode 101, Kermit hired Clifford to host the show because he was the only one not to run out of the office when Kermit asks the other Muppets who would like to host the show (Clifford was busy talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone). In addition to hosting, Clifford appeared in the recurring UK segments Fairyland PD and Real World Muppets.
When Clifford took on the starring role in Muppets Tonight his look was slightly altered. He lost his trademark sunglasses and was seen with traditional Muppet eyes for the first time. After Muppets Tonight, Clifford regained his shades for his roles in Muppets from Space and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. At MuppetFest in 2001, Kevin Clash revealed that he hated the eyes and is happy Clifford is wearing sunglasses again. Further to that extent, Clash says he would refuse to puppeteer Clifford in the future, if the glasses were removed again. (YouTube)
Some of the more notable episodes involving Clifford include episode 206, in which he constantly tried to get a kiss from Paula Abdul, and episode 207, in which Dennis Quaid seemed to take over from Clifford.
Clifford has appeared in two of the Muppet movies. He had a fairly large role in Muppets from Space where he earned his title as the Muppet Boarding House's expert on all things cool. He later appeared in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz as the bouncer for the Poppyfields nightclub. In both of these appearances, Clifford's style was depicted as closer in nature to his earliest appearances on The Jim Henson Hour.
In 2003, a Clifford Action Figure was released in Series 6 of the Palisades Toys line of Muppet action figures, modeled after the character's look in Muppets Tonight. In addition to this, a ceramic Clifford figurine was produced in France, as part of a series of Muppet fèves. To date, these are the only examples of Clifford merchandise produced.
In a promotion for the United Kingdom premiere of The Muppets, Kermit answered questions on Twitter under the hashtag #askkermit. When asked what happed to Clifford, Kermit tweeted, "He went back to his roots as a bass guitarist and supplements his income as a male model."
- The Jim Henson Hour
- The Arsenio Hall Show
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
- It's Not Easy Being Green (Muppet Sing Alongs)
- "She Drives Me Crazy" music video
- National Wildlife Federation commercial
- Muppets Tonight
- Episode 101: Michelle Pfeiffer
- Episode 102: Garth Brooks
- Episode 103: Billy Crystal
- Episode 104: John Goodman
- Episode 105: Cindy Crawford
- Episode 106: Tony Bennett
- Episode 107: Sandra Bullock
- Episode 108: Jason Alexander
- Episode 109: Whoopi Goldberg
- Episode 110: Martin Short
- Episode 201: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
- Episode 202: Rick Moranis
- Episode 203: Heather Locklear
- Episode 204: Pierce Brosnan
- Episode 205: Don Rickles & Coolio
- Episode 206: Paula Abdul
- Episode 207: Dennis Quaid
- Episode 208: The Cameo Show
- Episode 210: The Gary Cahuenga Episode
- Episode 211: Andie MacDowell
- Episode 212: Johnny Fiama Leaves Home
- TGIF bumpers
- Muppets from Space
- Muppet RaceMania
- The Muppet Show Live
- Muppets Party Cruise
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
- Muppets TV (France)
- Kermit's Big Surprise!
- How to Be a Complete Muppet
- Great Muppets in American History
- The Muppet Show Comic Book Issue #3 - Gonzo's Story (Cover A)
- Muppet Robin Hood Issue #3
- Muppet Snow White
- The Muppets Character Encyclopedia