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The Most Famous Puppets

September 20, 2016 no comments Articles

“Wow! We’re in a sewer! Gee… nothing can touch the magic of Disney…”There have been many famous puppets throughout the history of puppetry. I’ve put together a list of my top 10 most famous puppets of all time. Comment down below and share who YOUR favorite puppets are!

#10 – “Animal” from the fictional band, The Muppet Show

Animal, better known as the wild-eyed drummer made his debut in The Muppet Show and was performed originally by Frank Oz in 1975. He usually performs next to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. While drumming, you’ll find Animal chained to his drum set yelling “Beat Drums!

Other random cool facts about Animal

  • He was the official mascot for the US Ski Team during the 1998 Winter Olympics

  • He has been featured on commemorative USPS stamps

  • Animal made a guest appearance on WWE Raw as a timekeeper

  • Has very limited vocabulary. Usually shouts or grunts

  • Mother, LaVerne, also a drummer

  • He has inspired real life drummers such as Keith Moon from “the Who”

  • He might have ADHD

If you’ve never seen Animal in action here’s a great compilation video to get you going!

Want your very own Animal Muppet Puppet? Well we have just what you’re looking for! Whether you are an avid puppeteer or new to puppetry this is a must for any puppet memorabilia.

 


#9- “Basil Brush”

Ha, ha, ha, ha! Boom! boom! Basil Brush, the human-like fox, made his first appearance in 1963 in a British children’s television show called “The Basil Brush Show”.  The show was about Basil and his sidekick, Stephen. They lived in a modern penthouse flat with Stephen’s nephew and niece, Molly and Dave. Molly and Dave’s parents left them in the care of Stephen while they traveled the world.

Just some of the show’s guest list included:

  • Alvin Stardust

  • Cilla Black

  • John Inman

  • Demis Roussos

If you’re in the UK and haven’t witnessed Basil Brush, you definitely want to check out The Best of Basil Brush! The DVD contains vintage footage of the cheeky little fella Basil and is filled with double entendre. I’d definitely recommend this for anyone looking to hear the words “Boom boom!” one last time.


#8- “Kermit the Frog”

“Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here!”

Kermit was my favorite part of tuning in to the Muppet Show.

Awesome Kermit Facts!

  • He was made out of a coat. Yes, that’s true. Puppets were not too glamorous back in the day and people had to use whatever they could find. Even his eyes were made out of ping pong balls.

  • Initially, Kermit wasn’t a frog. He was more like an alien or some indeterminate species. It was at least 10 years after the show first aired that he became identified as a frog.

  • Most people think he was the original star of the Muppet Show. Wally from the Valentine’s Day special and Nigel from “Sex and Violence” were both competing for the lead gig. Spoiler alert! Kermit ultimately got the gig!

  • No one knows when his true birthday is.

  • His puppeteers were Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire.

  • He has an incredibly large family. The number of brothers and sisters he has remains a mystery but some say he has up to 2,000 family members.

  • He has a doctorate in Amphibious Letters

Lots of Kermit “puppet” sellers on Amazon are truly offering “dolls” and not puppets you can actually control. Thankfully for you I’ve done the research for you and found the very best kermit puppet!


#7- “Elmo”

Who doesn’t love Elmo, his high pitched voice, and his contagious giggle? Children love Elmo and his personality because he’s cheerful, friendly, and always wants to be a part of everything that’s going on around him. He has a very optimistic view of himself that most preschoolers can relate to. The furry red muppet monster from Sesame street is the only muppet that refers to himself in third person. Elmo’s popularity grew so much that it landed him his own segments called “Elmo’s World” and “Elmo the Musical”.

Fun facts about Elmo

  • Self-describers himself as a 3 and a half years old

  • He has a sister named Daisy

  • His goldfish’s name is Dorothy

  • Favorite food is wasabi (reason why he has no eyelids)

  • Original designed in 1979 by Caroly Wilcox

  • Loves to be tickled

Looking for the perfect plush Elmo hand puppet? The one we have listed in our store is perfect for encouraging imaginative play and all children can relate to Elmo. He’s soft, made of great quality, and can be washed. Elmo is a great toy to play with your kids.


#6- “Punch and Judy”

Not exactly G-Rated but Punch and Judy have been around since the seventeenth century and inspire laughs all over the world.

So much so that Diarist Samuel Pepys, who, while on a visit to Covent Garden, on 9th May 1662, wrote…

“Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants.”

In order to fully understand Punch and Judy I think it’s best to know about the story. Mr. Punch kills his child, then murders his wife Judy when she discovers what he’s done. He then proceeds to kill multiple more people as they get involved in the mess he has created.

“That’s the way to do it!”

Mr. Punch’s favorite phrase as he continues to get away with murder.

Fun facts about Punch and Judy

  • The dolls appeared in the 2014 movie, Gone Girl.

  • In 2006, the Punch and Judy show was named one of 12 icons of Englishness

Punch & Judy shows are engraved in our social history having been passed on for centuries by puppet performers for the enjoyment of all ages. They represent a part of puppetry culture and history. So much so that they were even named amongst the first 12 icons of England, right next to double decker buses and Sherlock Holmes.

 


#5- “Alf”

Alf made his TV debut with his very own show right off the bat. The science fiction sitcom titled “Alf” aired in 1986 for a total of four years and 102 episodes. The show was about Gordon Shumway, aka “Alf“, a friendly extraterrestrial that lands in the garage of a suburban middle-class Tanner family. Alf was performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco.

Crazy facts about Alf you probably didn’t know…

  • When they needed to show Alf in full body on TV, actor Mihaly Meszaros would jump into the suit and play the role. Mihaly is listed as two feet 9 inches tall. No question about why he got the part.

  • You might have wondered why Alf sometimes looked different. That’s because they were using two Alf puppets, one puppet for waist up footage and the other was a full body puppet.

  • He had 8 stomachs! Yikes! That must be why he ate so much during the episodes.

  • Jerry Stahl, the shows writer, wrote most of Alf while on heroin. I didn’t believe it at first either but it’s true. Look it up!


#4- “Great Gonzo”

Gonzo, aka “The Great Gonzo” or “Gonzo the Great“, is one of my favorite muppets from the Muppet Show. Watching Gonzo as a kid you couldn’t help but be in awe for all of his stunts. He was also quite often made fun of his ambiguous race. No one ever really know what he was so they kept referring to him as “whatever” and a “weirdo”.

Gonzo was developed and performed by Dave Goelz and made his first appearance in the 1970 special titled “The Great Santa Claus Switch” as the “Cigar Box Frackle“.

Did you know that…

  • Gonzo’s eyes sad and immobile in the first season of the The Muppet Show and were later altered to be more energetic and lively?

  • Gonzo’s best friends were Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear.

  • Gonzo was in a romantic relationship with Camilla the Chicken

  • Gonzo liked to be shot out of a cannon, balance a piano on his nose, hypnotize chickens, and tap dance on roller skates on a vat of oatmeal.

  • Gonzo hated insurance agents (who doesn’t?!)

  • Gonzo used to live in a cement mixer.

And I leave you with my favorite Gonzo quote of all time…

“Wow! We’re in a sewer! Gee… nothing can touch the magic of Disney…”


#3- “Bert and Ernie”

Bert and Ernie are two puppets who made their first appearance on Sesame street. They were originated by Frank Oz and Jim Henson. Bert and Ernie were the only characters that tested well during the screenings of Sesame Street. They actually tested this and noticed that children’s attention levels dropped when Bert and Ernie were cut from the scene. The main idea behind Bert and Ernie was to show children that even though two people can be so different from one another they can still find a way to be best friends.

Ernie is classified as a live hand puppet. A live hand puppet means a puppeteer operates the head of the puppet with his right hand and inserts his left hand into a T shaped sleeve capped off with a glove that matches the fabric of the puppet. This gives the appearance of the left arm of the puppet. The right arm was usually operated by a second puppeteer.

Bert was a hand rod puppet which means that the puppeteer’s right arm was inserted into Bert’s head to control the mouth and his left hand was used to control the arms of the puppet with rods.

There have been rumors that Bert and Ernie were gay but official statements from the creators say otherwise.

From a Sesame Workshop’s consumer response prepared statement in 1993…

“Bert and Ernie, who’ve been on Sesame Street for 25 years, do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future. They are puppets, not humans. Like all the Muppets created for Sesame Street, they were designed to help educate preschoolers. Bert and Ernie are characters who help demonstrate to children that despite their differences, they can be good friends.”

 


#2- “Beaker”

Beaker is the shy assistant of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and one of my favorite muppets of all time. Beaker plays the role of a lab assistant hence why he is named after a piece of laboratory equipment. Beaker has bulging eyes, spiky orange hair, and a drawbridge mouth. He was originally puppeteered by Richard Hunt but was replaced by Steve Whitmire when Hunt passed away in 1992.

Beaker was best known for being the guinea pig to Dr. Bunsen’s crazy lab experiments. Beaker was often blown up, electrocuted, and faced all of the possible side effects during their experiments.

But want to know my favorite thing about Beaker?

Two words…

Meep. Meep.


#1- “Pinocchio”

My favorite puppet of all time has to be Pinocchio. I don’t think anyone can say they’ve never heard of Pinocchio. In case you haven’t, Pinocchio is a classic 1940’s American film based on an Italian children’s novel by Carlo Collodi. The film turned out to be Disney’s 2nd big hit, following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The film is about Geppetto, a wood carver who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. Pinocchio comes to live by a little blue fairy and is granted the ability to become a real boy if he proves he is brave, truthful, and unselfish.

Little known facts about Pinocchio

  • Did you know that “Pinocchio” means “little wooden head”?

  • The movie cost $2.8 million dollars to make. That’s a boat load of money especially considering the year it was made.

  • “Pinocchio” has been re-released in theaters 7 times since it was originally produced (1945, 1954, 1962, 1971, 1978, 1984, and 1992).

  • “Pinocchio” was designed over and over. In fact, it took 12 different artists and approximately 18 months to finalize Pinocchio’s appearance.

  • First film to use famous voice actors

When you think of puppets you can’t help but to think of Pinocchio.