Eren Ozker (July 25, 1948 - February 25, 1993) was a puppeteer who served as the primary female performer during the first season of The Muppet Show, notably originating Wanda and Hilda and taking over from Fran Brill as Janice (before Richard Hunt made the role his own). When The Muppet Show received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Series, she was named alongside the other regular puppeteers and the producers. Ozker also played several supporting roles in Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas (including Gretchen Fox, who does not fall off the dock) and served as an additional performer on The Muppet Movie.
Born in Ankara, Turkey, Eren Ozker grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1970, with a bachelor's degree in drama, and moved to New York City. Years after she left the Muppets, Ozker founded the SAG/AFTRA puppeteers' caucus. As a stage actress, she toured with the National Theater Company, playing Shakespearean heroines such as Hero (Much Ado About Nothing) and Ophelia (Hamlet). She also appeared Off-Broadway in plays such as Ibsen's The Master Builder. In 1975, after a stint with the Syracuse Stage troupe, she joined the Hartman Theater Company in Connecticut, playing leading roles such as Mayra in Gogol's The Government Inspector and Teresa in The Hostage. She often played opposite actor William Bogert; when Ozker returned to the states in 1977, on a break from her Muppet work, the pair married.
Even after her departure from the Muppets, Ozker remained occasionally active as a puppeteer, playing spokescharacter Sud-Z-Lemon in a series of 1980s commercials for Joy dishwashing liquid.. In 1989, Ozker fought for a more vocal participation by puppeteers in the acting unions, founding the SAG Puppeteers' Caucus and serving as the first chairwoman. Later puppeteer work included the 1988 stage play The Warrior Ant, the 1990 film Frankenhooker, and puppeteering a computer-generated Felix head for Felix the Cat: The Movie (1991). In 1991, she was also awarded the Joseph C. Reily award by SAG for outstanding service to the union. She died of cancer.
- The Muppet Show (all first season only): Hilda, Wanda, Janice, Trumpet Girl (Episode 123), Female Jugband Member, Talking House (episode 119), Ghost (episode 119), others
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas: Gretchen Fox, Old Lady Possum, Hetty Muskrat
- The Muppet Movie
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Eren Ozker, Actress And Puppeteer, 44; A Voice of Muppets." The New York Times. Feburary 27, 1993.
- ↑ Streighteff, Lynn. "Two Shakespeare Plays: Vivisection and Thanks." Daily News. October 17, 1970. Huntington, Pennsylvania
- ↑ "At the Agencies." The Post-Standard. November 1985. Syracuse, New York.