Santa Claus is a traditional, secular figure of Christmas good cheer, generally depicted as a jolly fat, old man in a red suit. Other nations have their own variations, such as Father Christmas in England and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. Santa has appeared in several Muppet/Sesame Street specials over the years, portrayed by different human actors and occasionally depicted as a Muppet. Muppet characters have sometimes felt the urge to don the familiar beard as well.
Santa Claus as a character
|Arthur Godfrey|| The Ed Sullivan Show|
December 24, 1967
|Santa appears alongside Scudge, Gleep, and other monsters in a brief holiday sketch. Set entirely in his workshop, the monsters attempt to steal toys until Santa shows them kindness by giving them the playthings as a present.|
|unknown||Hey Cinderella!||"Santa Claus" appeared as one of the ball guests, telling one of the Stepsisters that she reminded him of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.|
|Art Carney||The Great Santa Claus Switch||This was Santa's first extended appearance in a Muppet production. Santa is an amiable figure, kind even to Cosmo Scam. He is also a hopeless amateur magician, forever practicing card tricks.|
|unknown||Fraggle Rock "Manny's Land of Carpets"||Uncle Traveling Matt encounters a department store Santa, who he assumes is a magical wish giving creature.|
|Anything Muppet||Sesame Street News Flash||A Pumpkin Anything Muppet (Frank Oz) appears as Santa Claus, apparently unsure of his own identity.|
|Anything Muppet||Sesame Street News Flash||In another News Flash sketch, Kermit the Frog interviews a Fat Blue Santa, asking how he gets down the chimney.|
|Whatnot||episode 305 of The Muppet Show||A Whatnot Santa appears during the line "everything's coming up sunshine and Santa Claus..."|
|unknown||Christmas Eve on Sesame Street||Big Bird sits out on the roof of 123 Sesame Street to catch Santa in the act of delivering presents. Santa appears when Big Bird dozes off and is only seen in shadow, disappearing the moment Big Bird awakes. His voice is previously heard over a telephone swallowed by Cookie Monster (the voice provided by Jon Stone).|
|unknown||Elmo Saves Christmas||A goodwill Santa stands in front of The Furry Arms Hotel.|
|Charles Durning||Elmo Saves Christmas||This Santa is rather crotchety and frustrated by the side effects of Elmo's wish. He also gets to sing "Every Day Can't Be Christmas."|
|Charles Edward Hall||Elmo's World: Happy Holidays||Elmo travels to the North Pole near the end of the special.|
|Dave "Squatch" Ward||It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||Fozzie runs into a compassionate Salvation Army Santa, and accidentally leaves his sack of money with him.|
|unknown||It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||In a deleted scene, a jolly Santa, apparently convinced he's the real deal, regretfully informs Kermit that he can't appear in their big holiday production.|
|Muppet Poser||Macy's Windows, 2002||A poser puppet of Santa Claus helms his sleigh in the Macy's window display.|
|Charles Edward Hall||Radio City Music Hall, 2005||Kermit with the Rockettes and Santa during Kermit's 50th Anniversary Tour.|
|Kevin James||Elmo's Christmas Countdown||Kevin James shows another side of Santa Claus when he is issued a speeding ticket.|
|Richard Griffiths||A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa||The Muppets race to make sure that three letters make their way to Santa.|
|Anything Muppet||Weihnachten mit Ernie und Bert||Santa visits Ernie and Bert in their German apartment.|
|Unknown||Elmo's World Live! Christmas||Calling Elmo on the "video phone".|
|Brad Oscar||The National Christmas Tree Lighting||Santa Claus performs "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with Kermit the Frog at The White House, and later joins him for a sing-along rendition of "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland."|
|Craig Robinson||"All I Need is Love"||Santa joins the Muppets' party with Cee Lo Green.|
Characters dressing as Santa Claus
|Rowlf|| The Jimmy Dean Show||Rowlf is dressed as Santa on December 24, 1964.|
|Baby Animal|| Muppet Babies|
|Baby Animal dressed up as Santa to show who would come down the chimney that Baby Piggy must clean.|
|Baby Kermit||Muppet Babies baby toys||Baby Kermit Christmas squeeze toy from 1989.|
|Bert||Peter Alexander presents Specialties||Bert dresses as Santa in this German TV special from 1975.|
|Bert and Ernie||Sesame Street Magazine, December 1977||Bert and Ernie collaborate as Santa Claus.|
|Bert||Weihnachten mit Ernie & Bert||Bert takes part in Rumpel's Christmas song as Santa on Die Grosse Sesamstrassen-Musikshow.|
|Big Bird||The Sesame Street Postcard Book||Big Bird taking on the role of Santa with Snuffy taking on the role of the reindeer.|
|The Big Bad Wolf||Muppet Classic Theatre||The wolf dresses as Santa to infiltrate Sandy Pig's home.|
|Bobo the Bear||It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie||Bobo is asked to fill in for the absent Santa.|
|Cookie Monster||Elmo Saves Christmas||Cookie Monster dresses as Santa in order to trick Elmo out of his plate of cookies.|
|Cosmo Scam||The Great Santa Claus Switch||Cosmo Scam poses as Santa.|
|Doc||A Muppet Family Christmas||Doc appears as Santa at the end of the special, passing out presents.|
|Doc Hogg||Bear in the Big Blue House "A Berry Bear Christmas"||Doc appears as "Santa Hogg" at the Woodland Valley Mall.|
|Elmo||Gund Musical Holiday Collection||Mini plush of Elmo dressed as Santa Claus.|
|Ernie||Sesame Street calendar, unknown year||Ernie appears as Santa, with Bert as his reindeer.|
|Fozzie Bear||Muppet Magazine issue 5||Fozzie dresses as Santa for the Muppet Magazine Christmas party.|
|Fozzie Bear||John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together||Fozzie dresses as a salvation army Santa for the number "The Pleasure of Your Company."|
|Gonzo||episode 517 of The Muppet Show||Gonzo's chickens play the part of Santa's reindeer in a holiday mix-up medley.|
|Grover||Grover's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas||Grover takes on the role of Santa Claus to leave presents on Sesame Street.|
|Herry Monster||Elmo's Delicious Christmas||Herry dresses as Santa Claus to help collect toys and food for needy families.|
|Herry Monster||Sesamstrasse magazine||Herry dresses as Santa Claus on a 1980 Sesamstrasse magazine cover.|
|Kermit the Frog||The Miss Piggy Cover Girl Fantasy Calendar||Kermit plays the role of Santa coming down the chimney.|
|Kermit the Frog||Hallmark wall decoration||Kermit dresses as Santa, with Miss Piggy holidng mistletoe over his head, on this 1977 wall decoration by Hallmark. The same picture can be seen in the dressing rooms of the Muppet Show and the front cover of the March 8, 1979 issue of Lhiton.|
|Kermit the Frog||Jim Henson's Muppets Annual 1983||Remake to the 1977 picture (pictured above).|
|Kermit the Frog||Muppet Magazine Winter 1987||Kermit is dressed as Santa on the cover of the Winter 1987 issue of Muppet Magazine with Pee-Wee Herman and his stocking.|
|Kermit the Frog||The Christmas Toy||Kermit delivered his traditional holiday introduction for The Christmas Toy after climbing down the chimney.|
|Kermit the Frog||Santa Kermit plush doll||Released in 1990 by Presents, a division of Hamilton Gifts.|
|Kermit the Frog||Good Morning America||Santa Kermit & his frog elves stop by the studio "to wish everybody a happy season" and sing "Jingle Bells."|
|Kermit the Frog||Kermit Presents Christmas Treasures||Kermit is pictured on the cover of the sheet music book dressed as Santa Claus.|
|Kermit the Frog||Sababa Muppet plush doll||In 2003, Sababa sold a grayscale Kermit plush doll dressed in a pantsless, red Santa Claus costume.|
|Miss Piggy||"Kermit's Christmas Diary", Jim Henson's Muppets Annual 1982||Santa Claus can't make it for Christmas Day, so Miss Piggy cheers up Robin by dressing up as "Mother Christmas."|
|Mr. Snuffleupagus||Christmas Eve on Sesame Street||Snuffy assumes the role of Santa for scientific purposes, in an attempt to demonstrate how someone as large as Santa can fit down a tiny chimney.|
|Oscar the Grouch||A Sesame Street Christmas Carol||Christmas Carole transforms Oscar when he won't come out of his can.|
|The Swedish Chef||Palisades Toys||The Santa Chef Action Figure was released as Palisades' 2004 holiday figure.|
|Taminella Grinderfall||Tales of the Tinkerdee||Taminella poses as Santa as part of her scheme to steal Princess Gwendolinda's birthday presents.|
|Two-Headed Monster||A Muppet Family Christmas||The Monster plays jolly Saint Nick in the Sesame Street gang's Christmas pageant.|
|Waldorf||Muppet Magazine issue 17||Waldorf plays the role of Santa in the Muppet Babies comic book adaptation of "A Visit from St. Nicholas".|
|Wilkins||Wilkins Coffee commercial||Wilkins plays Santa, with Wontkins as his reindeer.|
Santa Claus in books
Santa Claus appears in a number of Muppet and Sesame Street books, including:
- A Sesame Street Christmas
- The Sesame Street Postcard Book
- The Amazing Mumford Forgets the Magic Words!
- Baby Kermit's Christmas
- Big Bird Meets Santa Claus
- Big Bird's Red Book
- Elmo's Night Before Christmas
- Muppet Christmas Eve
- Santa Visits the Big Blue House
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown
The Sesame characters visit Santa Claus at P.C. Nickles Department Store in:
Muppet characters also pretend to be Santa in other books:
- Baby Fozzie in Ho-Ho-Ho, Baby Fozzie
- Cookie Monster in Pop Goes the Santa!
- Kermit the Frog in A Very Muppet Christmas
- In a version of "The Organized Mind" performed on The Tonight Show in 1974, an image of Santa Claus appears when the character browses through his good thoughts.
- In an early version of "The People in Your Neighborhood," an Anything Muppet claims that, with a fireman's hat on, he could be Santa Claus.
- In the lyrics of "Can You Picture That" from The Muppet Movie, Floyd Pepper and Janice sing that "even Santa Claus believes in you."
- In Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Oscar asks Big Bird and Patty how Santa Claus can deliver presents on Christmas Eve if he can't fit through the narrow chimneys on Sesame Street. Kermit and Grover interview various kids on the subject trying to help solve the mystery. Eventually, Big Bird decides to stay up all night on the roof to wait for Santa Claus. Although jingle bells and footsteps are heard when Big Bird falls asleep, Santa Claus is not actually seen. Meanwhile, Cookie Monster tries repeatedly to write a letter to Santa Claus, and speaks to him by shouting into his belly after having eaten the telephone on which he had dialed Santa's number.
- The song "Good Things Happen in the Dark" claims that without the dark, there would be no gifts that would arrive by Santa's sleigh.
- In Muppets from Space, Gonzo hears a voice outside his window when he wakes up. Approaching, he asks, "Rizzo?" Rizzo replies, "No, it's Santa. But I forgot my reindeer."
- In The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion, Fozzie Bear (as "Baron Munchfozzen") holds up a newspaper with the headline: "Baron Marries Pink Gorilla, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy to Attend Wedding".
- A betting form posted on the door of Pepe's stateroom aboard Disney Cruise Line's ship, the Disney Fantasy, lists Sandy Claws as one of the competitors of Pepe's Crab Races.
The following actors, who have appeared in Muppet/Henson productions, have portrayed Santa in other film or television appearances.
- Ed Asner voiced Santa in The Story of Santa Claus (1996, TV) and Olive the Other Reindeer (1999, TV) and appeared on camera as Santa in The Ellen Show (2001, TV) and Elf (2003, film).
- Fred Astaire played Santa in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (TV, 1979).
- John Astin voiced Santa in an episode of Higglytown Heroes (2004, TV)
- Mel Brooks voiced Santa in an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron (2002, TV).
- David Canary played Santa in Secret Santa (1994, TV).
- Art Carney reprised the role of Santa in The Night They Saved Christmas (1984, TV).
- Charles Durning played Santa in several TV movies: It Nearly Wasn't Christmas (1989), Mrs. Santa Claus (1996), Mr. St. Nick (2002), and A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004).
- Gilbert Gottfried voiced Santa in Billy and Mandy Save Christmas (2005, TV)
- John Goodman voiced Santa in the video Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (1998), a Robot Santa in Futurama (1999, TV), and played the part in The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006, TV).
- James Earl Jones voiced Santa Claus in an episode of Recess (1997, TV)
- Bruce Kirby played Santa in A Different Kind of Christmas (1996, TV)
- Kermit Love appeared as Santa on the December 1982, 1984 and 1985 covers of New York
- Stuart Pankin played Santa in an episode of The Hughleys (1998, TV)
- Gerry Parkes played a retiring Santa Claus in Must Be Santa (1999, TV)
- Austin Pendleton played a streetcorner Santa in Christmas with the Cranks (2004, film)
- William Shatner voiced Santa in It's a Very Merry Eek's-mas (1993, TV)
- Jeffrey Tambor voiced Santa in The ChubbChubbs Save Xmas (2007)
- Peter Ustinov played Santa in Julie's Christmas Special (1973, TV)
- Frank Welker voiced Santa in A Chipmunk Christmas (1981, TV)
- George Wendt played Santa in A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (2008, TV)