|PERFORMER||Frank Oz 1976-2002|
|Eric Jacobson 2001-present|
|DESIGN||Bonnie Erikson designer/builder|
Miss Piggy is one of the central characters on The Muppet Show. She is a force of nature who developed from a one-joke running gag into a complex, three-dimensional character.
Miss Piggy is a prima-donna pig who is absolutely convinced that she's destined for stardom, and nothing is going to stand in her way. Her public face is the soul of feminine charm, but she can instantly fly into a rage whenever she thinks she's insulted or thwarted. Kermit the Frog has learned this all too well; when she isn't smothering him in kisses, she's sending him flying through the air with a karate-chop.
From modest beginnings (which she is quick to gloss over), Miss Piggy first broke into show business by winning the Miss Bogen County beauty contest, a victory which also marked her first meeting with the frog of her life, Kermit (whom she often calls "Kermie"). The rest, as they say, is history (and a lot of juicy gossip, too).
In 1976, Miss Piggy started out in the chorus of The Muppet Show. Thanks to her charisma and a correspondence course in karate, Piggy made her presence known and soon became the lead chanteuse and femme fatale on the show. Quickly, her career expanded to include television specials, home videos, records and books. Her "how to" volume of advice on absolutely everything, Miss Piggy's Guide to Life, became a national bestseller, and her fabulous face has been featured on the cover of countless magazines too numerous to mention.
She also has a dog named Foo-Foo.
Miss Piggy has starred in all eight theatrically-released Muppet feature films, and both made-for-TV movies. She starred in two television specials, The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show and Miss Piggy's Hollywood. She also starred in her own workout album.
Miss Piggy's Talents
Miss Piggy considers herself a dramatic actress and a great singer, but she has other talents, too (besides karate).
In the Kaye Ballard episode of The Muppet Show, it has been proven that Miss Piggy can play a few instruments such as the trumpet and kazoo.
Miss Piggy proves to be great at bending metal bars (for example, in The Great Muppet Caper, she bent back the jail bars, and in The Muppets Take Manhattan, she was able to bend a metal bar).
As shown in The Great Muppet Caper, Miss Piggy also has the ability to model, tap dance, swim, drive a truck, and ride a motorcycle.
Kermit and Piggy
Eventually in the films, Kermit started returning her affections and (unwittingly) married her in The Muppets Take Manhattan—although subsequent events suggest that it was only their characters in the movie that married and that their relationship is really the same as ever.
Before The Muppets Take Manhattan, in episode 310 of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy unsuccessfully attempted to get Kermit to marry her. She wrote a "comedy sketch" involving a wedding between her and Kermit, got Scooter to trick Kermit into signing a marriage license, and hired a real minister for the sketch. However, during the skit, before Kermit was to say "I do," he introduced Lew Zealand instead.
In episode 502, after planting one too many rumors about her and Kermit's relationship to the gossip papers, Kermit fired Miss Piggy, having guest star Loretta Swit replace her in "Pigs in Space" and "Veterinarian's Hospital". The rest of the cast were sad, until they realized that this meant they'd be rid of Foo-Foo. Eventually, Loretta Swit got them to sing a song, and all was apparently forgiven after that.
A month before the debut of their 2015 ABC series, The Muppets, Miss Piggy and Kermit formally announced that they were breaking up. Piggy said in a statement that “Dating moi is like flying close too the sun. It was inevitable that Kermit would drop down to the ground while I stayed in the heavens.” while also concluding it was a mutual agreement. Kermit however countered “After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, Miss Piggy made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship.” It was specified, however, that they will continue to work together. Kermit has apparently moved on with his new girlfriend, a pig named Denise, who works for ABC.
Kermit and Miss Piggy occasionally perform musical numbers together. Some of their duets include "I Won't Dance", "Ukulele Lady", "Waiting at the Church", "The First Time It Happens", and "Love Led Us Here".
Family and Background
Miss Piggy was born above Becker's Butcher Shop in a small town. Frank Oz filled in some of her backstory in a 1979 People magazine article: "Miss Piggy's father chased after other sows, and her mother had so many piglets she never found time to develop her mind. 'I'll die before I live like that!' Miss Piggy screamed, and ran away to the city. Life was hard at first. People got all the jobs; pigs had to take what was left. To keep going, Miss Piggy walked a sandwich board for a barbecue stand. Desperate, she took a stage name, Laverne, and entered a beauty contest. She won and got her big break: a bacon commercial. This led to a season as mascot for a local TV sportscast called Pigskin Parade -- and then on to The Muppet Show."
Commentary in the Muppet Morsels on The Muppet Show: Season One revealed the fate of her father, and expanded more: "Her father died in a tractor accident when she was young and her mother wasn't very nice to her. She left home as a teenager after graduating charm school and working in a department store selling gloves. She was forced to pose for some ads including a bacon product. She also had to enter beauty pageants to survive in the world."
Speaking years later on Take Two with Phineas and Ferb about what it was like to grow up on a farm, she said that it was "Very humbling... I don't like being humble, so I got out fast." She also confirmed having done bacon ads during a 1984 appearance on The Merv Griffin Show, and her beauty pageant career culminated in a win at the Bogen County Fair, after which she began her rise to fame in Hollywood.
Piggy has two dim-witted nephews, Andy and Randy Pig, who she sometimes employs as seen in Muppets Tonight and The Muppets. She also has at least one niece, aged six, who she mentions in The Muppets episode "The Ex-Factor" to compare with Denise who eats her cupcakes upside-down so that there's just a handful of frosting left. A niece is mentioned again by Kermit in "Swine Song" when Piggy begins listing current trends that she thinks makes her relevant.
According to her Paris School of Fashion, but she refuses to publish her birth date., Miss Piggy was educated at the
Frank Oz performed "Piggy Lee" on The Tonight Show on May 24, 1974, lip-synching with Hamilton Pig to "Old Black Magic". Five months later on October 13, 1974, Jerry Nelson performed "Piggy" (not yet Miss Piggy) on Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. A beady-eyed variation later appeared briefly in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975), in a sketch called "Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs." By the time The Muppet Show began in 1976, she was recognizably Miss Piggy, sporting large blue eyes, wearing a flowing lavender gown, and jumping on Kermit, the love of her life.
Muppet designer Bonnie Erickson remembers, "My mother used to live in North Dakota where Peggy Lee sang on the local radio station before she became a famous jazz singer. When I first created Miss Piggy I called her Miss Piggy Lee -- as both a joke and an homage. Peggy Lee was a very independent woman, and Piggy certainly is the same. But as Piggy's fame began to grow, nobody wanted to upset Peggy Lee, especially because we admired her work. So, the Muppet's name was shortened to Miss Piggy."
Miss Piggy soon developed into a major character as the Muppet creators recognized that a lovelorn pig could be more than a one-note running gag. Frank Oz has said that while Fozzie Bear is a two-dimensional character, and Animal has no dimensions, Miss Piggy is one of the few Muppets to be fully realized in three dimensions. She became one of The Muppet Show's most popular characters, which was noted by Jim Henson during the development of Fraggle Rock. When discussing characters for the show, Henson included this in his notes:
“...we would anticipate coming up with new personalities which would have much of the same kind of appeal as a Kermit, Fozzie or Gonzo. We will not create anybody with Miss Piggy's kind of appeal- nobody should try.”
Miss Piggy's distinctive personality has been seen in a few other Muppet characters before the famous sow's debut. For instance, this personality and voice can be seen (and heard) in the Sesame Street versions of Little Miss Muffet and Snow White, both performed by Frank Oz.
Quotes about Miss Piggy
- "She wants everyone to treat her like a lady, and if they don't, she'll cut them in half." -- Frank Oz in Time Magazine, Dec. 25, 1978.
- "In one rehearsal, I was working as Miss Piggy with Jim, who was doing Kermit, and the script called for her to slap him. Instead of a slap, I gave him a funny karate hit. Suddenly, that hit crystallized her character for me -- the coyness hiding the aggression; the conflict of that love with her desire for a career; her hunger for a glamour image; her tremendous out-and-out ego -- all those things are great fun to explore in a character." -- Frank Oz in The New York Times Magazine, June 10, 1979.
- "Miss Piggy's not aware of the fact that she's overweight -- she dresses as if she's 30 pounds lighter. So she has a lot of fantasy." -- Costume designer Calista Hendrickson in The New York Times Magazine, June 10, 1979.
- "Well, it was actually a request from Jim. He wanted three pigs for a series that we were doing. He came to me because I'm from the Midwest, so I'm sure he thought I understood and knew pigs. The three pigs ended up being Miss Piggy, one was just sort of a background pig, and the other ended up being something very similar to Dr. Strangepork. So we first did her as a character for that bit, but she was quickly commandeered because we did a Herb Alpert appearance and they needed some sexy female, so I very quickly made her purple gloves, and I draped her in purple satin, and gave her some pearls and bigger eyes —I went to the eye drawer and changed her look and she went back and forth in those personalities for quite awhile. She started out in "the Muppet Show" as a chorus girl and as you know, she's now a big diva." -- Bonnie Erickson, when asked "How did you come up with the idea for Miss Piggy?" by Artinfo in 2011.
Miss Piggy's entourage
Like all great Hollywood divas, Miss Piggy has employed a variety of personal assistants, servants, publicity and talent agents, and others to further her career. This sometimes included her Muppet Show colleagues (such as Scooter on several occasions), but more often required outside help.
- Bernie, long-time agent
- Hoggie Marsh, first talent agent
- Marty, agent in The Muppet Movie
- Madeline, personal secretary/assistant
- Lars, chauffeur/bodyguard/personal trainer
- Faversham, butler
- Porque & Beanes, Attorneys at Law, attorneys
- Maurice, porter/valet
- Jerome, chauffeur in A Muppet Family Christmas
- According to Miss Piggy's Guide to Life, Miss Piggy's birthday is June 14.
- In 1998, Miss Piggy had her own perfume released titled "Moi."
- In The Muppet Show episode 106 Piggy is referred to by the full name "Piggy Lee"; and in episode 116 Piggy tells guest star Avery Schreiber that Piggy is short for "Pigathius," which is "From the Greek, meaning 'river of passion'." Many years later, Piggy admitted to Marci Ien in a March 18, 2014 appearance on Canada AM that her full name is Miss Pigathia Lee, "but us stars, we keep trimming parts of our names off as we get bigger and bigger. Pretty soon you'll just be calling me P."
- On her August 2, 2007 guest appearance on The Late Late Show, Piggy stated that her first name is actually "Miss". This fact was also mentioned in the inside cover for The Kermit and Piggy Story.
- Because Frank Oz was busy with other projects and not on the set very often, Miss Piggy was puppeteered by Kevin Clash in Muppet Treasure Island and Peter Linz in Muppets from Space, with Oz dubbing the voice in later.
- Though normally called "Piggy" in the original French version of the show, her name has become "Peggy" for the 2006 French Muppets TV series; "Peggy" has also been used in Spain and Mexico.
- For several international dubs such as French Le Muppet Show, German Die Muppet Show and Italian Il Muppet Show, Miss Piggy was originally dubbed by female voice artists. They were replaced with male artists only much later when Disney Character Voices International, Inc. was put in charge, in some cases even ordering re-dubs of the series and select TV specials.
- On being a gay icon, Piggy commented in 2014: "I love being anybody's icon. I'm an icon to all who will have me."
- In addition to her many real world endorsements and licensing, Miss Piggy has occasionally created her own brands and products, such as Piggy Water in the 2015 series The Muppets ("Going, Going, Gonzo.")
- One of Miss Piggy's signature items were a pair of lavender gloves. In the late 1990s, costumer Barbara Davis grew frustrated with having to create outfits that complimented the specific gloves, when Frank Oz claimed that she didn't have to specifically wear lavender. Within a week's time, Davis had created several new pairs, all a variety of colors and patterns.
Miss Piggy's Fame
- Frank Oz - from The Muppet Show (1976) to The Today Show (2002)
- Eric Jacobson - MuppetFest (2001) to present
- Jerry Nelson - Herb Alpert and the TJB (1974)
- Fran Brill - The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)
- Richard Hunt - The Muppet Show Season 1 (1976-1977)
- Kevin Clash - Episode 211 of Muppets Tonight (1997, puppetry only), "One" video (2009)
- Victor Yerrid - Muppets Ahoy! (2006)
- Miss Piggy Filmography
- Miss Piggy Through the Years
- Miss Piggy Impersonators
- Miss Piggy's Alternate Identities
- Miss Piggy Guest Appearances
- International Miss Piggy
- Miss Piggy Calendars
- Muppet Show Episodes That Didn't Feature Miss Piggy
- Are Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy married?
- Miss Piggy walk-arounds
- Miss Piggy books
- Miss Piggy's Emotion Eyes Variants
- ↑ The correspondence course wasn't Piggy's only training. In an interview with Hitfix, she stated that she learned at Master Chang's Charm School and Karate Dojo; it was also a Chinese restaurant that Kermit used to go to.
- ↑ Miss Piggy Twitter (10:41 AM - 4 Aug 2015 Tweet)
- ↑ Love really is dead -- Miss Piggy and Kermit break up
- ↑ Kermit and Piggy announce breakup at press conference
- ↑ Kermit the Frog Twitter (1:16 PM - 4 Aug 2015 Tweet)
- ↑ The Muppet Show episode 106
- ↑ "The Woman Behind Miss Piggy", Anika Gupta, Smithsonian magazine, October 2008.
- ↑ Ann Binlot, "The Great Muppet Museum Caper: A Q&A with Miss Piggy's Designer on the New Survey of Jim Henson's Art", Artinfo, July 13, 2011.
- ↑ Bob Thompson, "Miss Piggy rules as a consummate ham (with video)", Canada.com, March 18, 2014.
- ↑ ToughPigs: An Interview with Craig Shemin, Part 2: Keeping Gonzo Real