1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppetology 101: Recasting of Muppet Show Characters, Pt. 2

Jan 31, 2012

Muppetology 101: Recasting of Muppet Show Characters, Pt. 2

Ryan Dosier - Welcome back to class, class! Hope you brought your purple gloves and your rubber chicken because today is all about Frank Oz and Eric Jacobson. We're continuing our series of Recasting of Muppet Show Characters today. As you'll recall, last week we explored the recasts of characters performed by Jim Henson. The only logical second step is to take a look at the characters performed by Jim Henson's right-hand man (sometimes literally), Frank Oz. Frank retired from performing with the Muppets in 2002 and since then all of his characters have been passed on to the incredibly talented Eric Jacobson, who, for the most part, has given near-perfect performances of every character on this list.

Take notes! That quiz is coming up! (Eventually, probably. First I need some lunch.)
  • MISS PIGGY
    • Originally performed by FRANK OZ (1976-2002)
    • Currently performed by ERIC JACOBSON (2001-present)
  • Miss Piggy was the first of Frank Oz's characters to be recast after Frank's retirement from working with the Muppets. It didn't prove too difficult to cast the porcine diva once the exceptionally talented Eric Jacobson took over. In fact, at Eric's first performance as Miss Piggy at MuppetFest in 2001, most people in the audience had no idea that it wasn't Frank performing--the voice and mannerisms were that spot-on. Frank performed Piggy a few more times before officially retiring from the character in 2002.
    • Frank Oz first performed Miss Piggy in The Muppet Show Season One (1976), trading off the character with Richard Hunt for the first few episodes but finally settling in as Piggy's permanent performer before the season ended. Frank Oz's last performance as Miss Piggy was on The Today Show in 2002 for the 50th anniversary special.
    • Eric Jacobson first performed Miss Piggy during a video insert in "The Muppet Show: LIVE" at MuppetFest in 2001. Eric Jacobson has continued to perform Miss Piggy in every appearance of the character after 2002, including The Muppets in 2011.
    • FOZZIE BEAR
      • Originally performed by FRANK OZ (1976-2000)
      • Currently performed by ERIC JACOBSON (2002-present) 
    • Fozzie Bear remained silent and unseen after Muppets From Space in 1999, and did not physically perform the character again after that. Three years later, Eric Jacobson donned the role of the bear in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002, solidifying himself as Fozzie's permanent performer. Eric's Fozzie remains one of the best recasts in Muppet history, as Eric's characterization of the bear is reminiscent of what Frank did with Fozzie on The Muppet Show.
      • Frank Oz's first performance as Fozzie Bear was on The Muppet Show Season One in 1976. Frank Oz remained Fozzie's sole performer for over 20 years, up to Muppets From Space in 1999. Frank's final vocal performance as Fozzie was in the Muppet RaceMania video game in 2000.
      • Eric Jacobson's first performance as Fozzie Bear was in the TV movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002. Eric Jacobson has performed Fozzie for the past decade, including Fozzie's major role in The Muppets in 2011, and will continue with Fozzie for the foreseeable future.
    • ANIMAL
      • Originally performed by FRANK OZ (1975-2000)
      • Currently performed by ERIC JACOBSON (2002-present)
    • Animal is without a doubt one of the most popular Muppets, but even he was not recast permanently after Frank Oz's retirement for two years. Even during Muppets Tonight, 1996-1997, Frank began phasing his way out of the character as Kevin Clash performed Animal in a few of his appearances, with Frank looping the dialogue later. However, when it came time for It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002, Eric Jacobson was the obvious choice for the permanent recast of the drummer. A few other performers took on Animal in the 2000s (most notably John Kennedy, who did Animal's voice for Muppet Party Cruise, a 2003 video game), but Eric has been the only performer of Animal from 2005 onward.
      • Frank Oz's first performance as Animal was in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot in 1975. Frank Oz gave his last physical performance as Animal in Muppets From Space in 1999, but also did Animal's voice for Muppet RaceMania in 2000.
      • Eric Jacobson's first performance as Animal was in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002. Eric would be the main Animal throughout the 2000s, with a few other puppeteers doing the character's voice. But from The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005 to Animal's semi-starring role in The Muppets in 2011 and beyond, Eric Jacobson has been Animal's only performer.
    • SAM THE EAGLE
      • Originally performed by FRANK OZ (1975-2000)
      • Currently performed by ERIC JACOBSON (2005-present) 
    • Sam the Eagle was perhaps the most difficult of Frank Oz's characters to recast after his retirement. In It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002 and the Muppets Party Cruise video game in 2003, Kevin Clash was the voice of Sam Eagle. It wasn't until The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005 that Eric Jacobson performed Sam for the first time. Since then, Eric has been the only performer of Sam, giving another near-perfect performance as the pompous eagle. Eric performed Sam in such hits as "Stars and Stripes FOREVER!", "American Woman," and "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2008 and 2009.
      • Frank Oz's first performance as Sam the Eagle was in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot in 1975, where Sam was one of the main characters alongside Nigel and Floyd Pepper. Frank Oz's final, physical performance as Sam Eagle was in Muppets From Space in 1999, but Frank did provide Sam's voice for the Muppet RaceMania video game in 2000.
      • Eric Jacobson's first performance as Sam the Eagle was in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005, where Sam played the Emerald City gate guard. Eric Jacobson has continued to perform Sam the Eagle ever since, including Sam's role in The Muppets in 2011.
    • MARVIN SUGGS
      • Originally performed by FRANK OZ (1976-1981)
      • Currently performed by ERIC JACOBSON (2011-present)
    • One of Frank Oz's stranger characters was Marvin Suggs, a minor character who would appear various times throughout the run of The Muppet Show. Marvin Suggs would continue to appear in silent roles after The Muppet Show ended in 1981, but Frank Oz never spoke as the character after that. Marvin disappeared after a brief, silent cameo in Muppets From Space, but in 2011 director James Bobin revealed that one of his favorite Muppets was Marvin Suggs, so the character had a semi-resurgence in The Muppets and the OK Go music video for "The Muppet Show Theme Song," performed by Eric Jacobson both times.
      • Frank Oz's first performance as Marvin Suggs was in The Muppet Show Season One, Episode 105, in 1976 where Marvin and his Muppaphones performed "Lady of Spain." Frank Oz's last known performance as Marvin Suggs was in The Muppet Show Season Five, Episode 506, in 1981 playing the Wonderland Judge.
      • Eric Jacobson's first performance as Marvin Suggs was in OK Go's "The Muppet Show Theme Song" music video in 2011. Eric Jacobson has only performed Marvin Suggs in 2011, but even this was enough to have Marvin Suggs and the Muppaphones sang a line in the finale version of "Life's a Happy Song" in The Muppets in 2011.
    Well, that'll do it for class today... I'm letting you out early, be grateful! Next week we'll jump back into it with a look at the recast characters of The Muppet Show characters performed by Richard Hunt! Now, be gone with you!









    The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

      4 comments:

      1. All of Frank's characters are performed by Eric Jacobson.

        Thank you too!

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      2. Miss Piggy was the cutest character for me in The Muppets!

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      3. Does anyone else feel like this is the time when we finally let go of the Frank Oz of the past (while continuing to love him!) and embrace the Eric Jacobson of the future (and the previous ten years). I, for one, think Eric is one of my all time favorite Muppet performers now. Just so you know.

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      4. I really think Eric deserves a shot at a nice interview someday. And a shot at some characters of his own. He's very talented!

        Frank was unavailable for a lot of his latter day Muppets productions. In "Muppet Treasure Island", Kevin Clash puppeteered most of Frank's characters. Kevin's cues came from a recording of the read-through of the script (which Frank participated in). While Frank dubbed most of his lines in post, he did actually puppeteer Miss Piggy at least once during the movie (I do recall seeing a photo of this), and also for an interview. Kevin also performed Piggy for the Andie McDowell episode of "Muppets Tonight".

        - For "Muppets From Space", Peter Linz puppeteered Piggy for most of the film (though Steve Whitmire did the Pig for at least one scene). Frank was able to fit in at least one interview with the Pig. Otherwise, everything else involving his characters was dubbed in post. Not sure who puppeteered Fozzie, Animal, and Sam. Though these other performers can be heard in parts of the theatrical trailer, as well as the DVD bloopers.

        ReplyDelete