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Exposed puppeteers

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Puppeteers exposed in The Jim Henson Hour "Secrets of the Muppets" (1989)

Occasionally Muppeteers will appear on an entertainment program alongside the puppet being performed. While some feel that such an appearance ruins the illusion of the Muppets, Jim Henson was not shy about appearing on camera with the characters he literally had a hand in:

A lot of people worry if they see the performer in the same shot as the puppet character. It's been my experience that the character itself is really what's interesting and if I am sitting here working Kermit - which I've done on the Carson show or stuff like that - people don't pay attention to me. I'm not a ventriloquist, and I don't try to hide the fact that my lips move, but [slipping into Kermit's voice] the truth of the matter is that the frog is a great deal more interesting to look at, and who notices what the bearded man is doing?
- Jim Henson[1]

An early Rowlf the Dog sketch written by Jerry Juhl began with Rowlf alone onstage addressing the audience. Rowlf would say "I'm not a real dog. Where real dogs have hind legs, do you what I've got? Puppeteers!" At that point the podium would be pulled away exposing Jim Henson and Frank Oz. According to Oz, "We loved the idea of Rowlf sitting there on a huge podium, and then it collapses and you see Jim and me performing him. We loved the idea of being seen. That was one thing I loved about Jim—he was never precious with the puppets."[2]

The page lists instances where the puppeteers of the Muppets were publicly shown operating their characters. This list does not include instances in documentaries and behind the scenes specials where puppeteers are shown performing, live events where puppeteers are visible along side their Muppets, or goofs where puppeteers are accidentally exposed.

See also


  1. Jim Henson Interview
  2. Brian Jay Jones, Interview with Frank Oz. Jim Henson: The Biography.

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