1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppetology 101: Recasting of Muppet Show Characters, Pt. 3

Feb 6, 2012

Muppetology 101: Recasting of Muppet Show Characters, Pt. 3

Ryan Dosier - Welcome back to class, class! We're continuing our series on the recasting of characters from The Muppet Show. Today we're looking at the characters of Richard Hunt, who died far too soon in 1992 after 25 years of performing and bringing joy to countless people. Richard's characters were some of the most genuine and personal characters ever to appear on The Muppet Show. Each of Richard's characters had an engrained aspect of Richard channeled through them, which made them that much harder to recast. In fact, his main character on The Muppet Show wasn't permanently recast for almost 20 years after Richard's passing. Since 2008, however, all of Richard's recurring Muppet Show characters have found permanent performers and excellent recasts.
  • SCOOTER 
    • Originally performed by RICHARD HUNT (1976-1990)
    • Currently performed by DAVID RUDMAN (2008-present)
  • Scooter was the alter ego of Richard Hunt on The Muppet Show; young, naive, wicked sense of humor, Scooter channeled Richard just as Richard channeled Scooter. This very personal connection to the character is what made it so difficult for the character to even return on the screen, let alone find a new permanent performer. Scooter didn't return to a Muppet production for eight years after Richard's death, in Muppets From Space in 1999, where he was performed by Richard's brother, Adam Hunt for the first and only time. Matt Vogel did Scooter's voice for the Muppets Race Mania video game in 2001, while Brian Henson took on the character for a small return to his go-fer role in 2002 in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. Rickey Boyd gave a great performance as Scooter in his secondary role in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005. When Disney began to pursue a Muppet renaissance in 2008, David Rudman, a close friend of Richard Hunt's, was chosen to perform Scooter permanently. David's Scooter has both the voice and personality of Richard's and is a true testament to how close David and Richard were.
    • Richard Hunt first performed Scooter in the first episode of The Muppet Show Season One and continued to be the only performer of Scooter through The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson in November 1990, plus Scooter's major role in the Muppet*Vision 3-D pre-show, filmed in 1990.
    • David Rudman first performed Scooter in Studio DC: Almost Live! Hosted by Selena Gomez in 2008 and continues to perform Scooter currently, including Scooter's return to prominence in The Muppets in 2011.
  • BEAKER
    • Originally performed by RICHARD HUNT (1977-1991)
    • Currently performed by STEVE WHITMIRE (1992-present)
  • Due to his popularity, Beaker was one of the first of Richard Hunt's characters to be recast after his death. Steve Whitmire began performing Beaker in 1992, first in The Muppet Christmas Carol, alongside Dave Goelz's Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. Steve would discover that Richard would inhale when he made Beaker's famous "mee-mee" sounds, rather than exhale, which made the recast transition near perfect. Steve performed Beaker through a string of YouTube video hits including "Ode to Joy," "Beaker's Ballad," "Habanera," and more throughout 2008 and 2009.
    • Richard Hunt first performed Beaker in The Muppet Show Season Two: Episode 202 with Zero Mostel in 1977. Richard's final performance as Beaker was for Muppet*Vision 3-D which opened in 1991 and was filmed in 1990.
    • Steve Whitmire first performed Beaker in The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992 and continues to be the sole performer of Beaker, including his major star-turns in YouTube videos and his role in The Muppets in 2011.
  • STATLER
    • Originally performed by RICHARD HUNT (1976-1991) 
    • Performed by JERRY NELSON (1975; 1992-2002)
    • Currently performed by STEVE WHITMIRE (2002-present)
  • Statler, one of the old hecklers in the balcony on The Muppet Show was performed by Jerry Nelson in his first appearance in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence in 1975. Jerry was drafted into the army before Season One of the show so the heckler character was given to Richard Hunt to perform alongside Jim Henson as Waldorf. When Richard died in 1991, it was only fitting that his close friend Jerry Nelson take on the character that he originated. Starting with The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992, Jerry would perform Statler until his retirement from the Muppets in 2002. Due to health reasons, Statler was puppeteered by Steve Whitmire in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002, with Jerry dubbing the dialogue later. Steve Whitmire was then given the character to make his own later in 2002. He has continued to perform Statler almost exclusively (except for the later episodes of From the Balcony where Statler was performed by Drew Massey) for a decade now.
    • Richard Hunt first performed Statler in The Muppet Show Season One in 1976. Richard performed Statler alongside Jim Henson's Waldorf until Muppet*Vision 3-D in 1991.
    • Jerry Nelson first performed Statler in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot in 1975, but could not perform the character for the beginning of Season One of The Muppet Show so the character was given to Richard Hunt. Jerry became Statler again in The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992 alongside Dave Goelz's Waldorf and performed him until his retirement after It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie in 2002.
    • Steve Whitmire first performed and voiced Statler in Weezer's 2002 music video with the Muppets, "Keep Fishin'." Steve continues to perform Statler in every production, including The Muppets in 2011.
  • JANICE
    • Originally performed by ERIN OZKER (1976-1977)
    • Performed by RICHARD HUNT (1977-1990)
    • Currently performed by DAVID RUDMAN (2008-present)
  • Janice, the lead guitar player for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, was also not originally performed by Richard Hunt. Erin Ozker, one of the only female Muppet Show performers, performed Janice in the first season. When Season Two came along and Erin Ozker left the show, Richard Hunt was given Janice so that every main Muppeteer had a character in the Electric Mayhem. Janice remained silent for over a decade after Richard's death, until Matt Vogel did the voice for Janice in the 2001 video game Muppet Race Mania. Janice didn't speak again in puppet form until she was performed by Brian Henson in 2002's It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. Like Scooter, Janice was not permanently recast until Studio DC: Almost Live! in 2008, where once again David Rudman was chose to take over.
    • Erin Ozker performed Janice in The Muppet Show Season One in 1976 until she left the Muppets in 1977.
    • Richard Hunt first performed Janice and made the character truly his own in The Muppet Show Season Two in 1977. Richard's final performances as Janice were in The Muppets at Walt Disney World and The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson in 1990.
    • David Rudman first performed Janice in Studio DC: Almost Live! Hosted by Dylan and Cole Sprouse in 2008. David continues to perform Janice with the rest of the Electric Mayhem, including their return in The Muppets in 2011.
  • SWEETUMS
    • Originally performed by RICHARD HUNT (1976-1991)
    • Performed by JOHN HENSON (1996-2005)
    • Currently performed by MATT VOGEL (2009-present)
  • Sweetums was one of the only full-bodied Muppets performed by Richard Hunt. Richard gave Sweetums a lovable but gruff attitude with his voice and mannerisms throughout the run of The Muppet Show and in The Muppet Movie. Sweetums took a five year hiatus after Richard's death, until Jim Henson's son John Henson took over the character starting in Muppet Treasure Island in 1996. John Henson made many appearances as Sweetums for almost ten years until The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005. The next permanent performer to take on Sweetums became Matt Vogel in 2009. Matt has performed the character since then in various appearances.
    • Richart Hunt first performed Sweetums in The Muppet Show Season One in 1976. He continued to both operate and voice Sweetums until 1991, when he performed only Sweetums' voice in Muppet*Vision 3-D due to his deteriorating health.
    • John Henson performed Sweetums starting in Muppet Treasure Island in 1996, doing both the voice and body work. John continued to perform Sweetums, one of the only characters he performed, until The Muppets' Wizard of Oz in 2005.
    • Matt Vogel first performed Sweetums in the "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day." promotions in 2009. He first did both Sweetums' body and voice in "The Muppet Show Theme Song" music video with OK Go in 2011 and continued to perform Sweetums in The Muppets in 2011.
Well, that's class! I promise that quiz is coming eventually... I've just got to buy a printer. And ink. And a computer. Yeah... we're not having a quiz. Never mind.

See you next week when we'll cover the recasts of Jerry Nelson's characters!






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

      3 comments:

      1. That's great - thanks Ryan! just a small typo, "Janice didn't speak again in puppet form until she was performed by Jim Henson in 2002's It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie." :0)

        ReplyDelete
      2. But... what about Jerry Nelson and Carl Banas originating Sweetums in The Frog Prince? At least a mention would've been good.

        ReplyDelete