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Creator / Muppet Performers

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The main crew of performers from The Muppet Show era. Left to right: Frank Oz, Jim Henson, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, and Dave Goelz.

The Muppet performers are a group of people who brought/bring Jim Henson's puppet characters (The Muppets and others) to life, on shows like The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and many feature films.

  • Terry Angus: Mostly known for performing Storyteller Fraggle and other characters on Fraggle Rock.
  • Pam Arciero: Joining in 1982, her best-known role is Oscar's girlfriend Grundgetta, whom she took over from Brian Muehl.
  • Billy Barkhurst: He performed Ernie on Sesame Street from Steve Whitmire's departure in 2014 to Peter Linz taking over the character in 2017.
  • Bill Barretta: A performer since 1991, he is known for inheriting some of Jim Henson's deeper-voiced characters, like Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef and Mahna Mahna, as well as performing the body of Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs and originating the roles of Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear, Johnny Fiama, Big Mean Carl, Clueless Morgan and others.
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  • Fran Brill: The first female Muppet performer, she joined the troupe in 1970, working primarily on Sesame Street. Her two most famous characters are Prairie Dawn and Zoe, whom she played until her retirement in 2014. Outside the Muppets, she also worked as a voice actress on shows like Doug and Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • Julianne Buescher: She has performed various background Muppets over the years and Yolanda Rat and Denise in the 2015 Muppets series. She is also a voice actress for various non-Henson cartoons, including being the English dub voice of Anko in Naruto.
  • Kevin Clash: Joining in 1984, he is best known for playing Hoots the Owl, Clifford, Polly Lobster, Baby Sinclair and, most famously, Elmo. In addition, he worked as a director and producer for Sesame Workshop until 2012, when he resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. He currently works as a puppeteer for The Jim Henson Company on other projects, including as Lyle and Mr. Bumblypants in The Happytime Murders and the Skeksis Hunter and Aughra in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The documentary film Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey is about his life and his most famous character.
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  • Stephanie D'Abruzzo: Working for Sesame Street since 1993, she has performed Curly Bear, Elizabeth and Lulu, as well as taking over the role of Prairie Dawn following Fran Brill's retirement. Outside the Muppets, she played Lady Richington on Sheep in the Big City, Kessie on The Book of Pooh and Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q, for which she received a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
  • Ryan Dillon: He began performing on Sesame Street in 2005 as he was leaving high school and is the current performer of Elmo.
  • Artie Esposito Largely only known for briefly being an understudy for Kermit the Frog, performing as him on a few occasions in the late 2000s. invoked
  • Dave Goelz: Originally an industrial designer, Goelz joined the Henson organization in 1974 as a puppet builder before becoming a performer, originating characters like Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, Beauregard, Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt and others. He also inherited Waldorf after Jim Henson's death. He is the longest-lasting original Muppet performer, still working with the franchise to date after all the others have left or passed away.
  • Louise Gold: Known for her singing voice, Gold was hired from England to work on The Muppet Show from its second season onward. She is best known for performing Annie Sue Pig, a role she reprised in Muppets Most Wanted. More recently, she has performed Funella Furchester in The Furchester Hotel and she was the only Skeksis performer of The Dark Crystal to return for Age of Resistance (as skekAyuk the Gourmand).
  • Stacey Gordon: She performs Julia, the very first Muppet with Autism, on Sesame Street.
  • Brian Henson: Jim's son and the current chairman of The Jim Henson Company. One of his first assignments was working on the complicated bicycle scene from The Great Muppet Caper and then went on to direct The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and The Happytime Murders, as well as episodes of Dinosaurs, Muppets Tonight and Farscape. He also performed The Storyteller's dog as well as Sal Minella, Dr. Phil van Neuter, Seymour and others. He also played Scooter and Janice from 2002 to 2003.
  • Jane Henson: She met Jim Henson while attending the University of Maryland and became his partner on Sam and Friends and other projects, the two eventually marrying in 1959. She stopped performing regularly in 1961 to focus on raising their growing family.
  • Jim Henson: The creator of the Muppets, he was known for playing Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef, Waldorf, Link Hogthrob, the Newsman, Mahna Mahna, Ernie, Guy Smiley, Cantus the Minstrel, Convincing John and many others.
  • John Henson: Jim's other son. He performed Sweetums from 1991 to 2005.
  • Richard Hunt: Hired right out of high school, he was known for performing Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler, Sweetums, Gladys the Cow, Don Music, Placido Flamingo, Forgetful Jones, Junior Gorg and many others. He died of AIDS in 1992.
  • Eric Jacobson: Joining in 1994, he is known for inheriting many of Frank Oz's roles, including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Bert and Grover. He has also taken over some of Jim Henson's characters such as Guy Smiley and the Newsman. He also became Carroll Spinney's understudy for Oscar the Grouch in 2015, officially inheriting that role following Spinney's retirement in 2018.
  • Jerry Juhl: Best known for being Jim Henson's top writer, he became the first employee of Muppets, Inc. when he was hired to replace Jane Henson on Sam and Friends, regularly performing until Frank Oz was hired in 1963. The character he is most famous for performing is Taminella Gunderfall in Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Frog Prince.
  • Peter Linz: He performed Tutter and Pip on Bear in the Big Blue House and Walter in the recent theatrical films. Since 2017, he has been the performer of Ernie, Herry Monster, Statler, Robin the Frog, Link Hogthrob and Lips. Outside the Muppets, he performed Theo Lion on Between the Lions.
  • Drew Massey: Originally a background puppeteer, he became a main performer for the webseries From the Balcony, where he performed Statler, Pepe the King Prawn, Animal, Sam the Eagle and many others.
  • Joey Mazzarino: He performed primarily on Sesame Street, where he played Murray Monster, Colambo, Papa Bear and Stinky the Stinkweed, among others. He also served as a writer and director on Sesame Street, as well as co-writing the screenplays for Muppets from Space and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. He resigned from Sesame Street in 2015. Outside the Muppets, he was a voice actor on Sheep in the Big City.
  • Kathryn Mullen: Originally hired for The Muppet Movie, she's known for performing Mokey Fraggle and Cotterpin Doozer, as well as operating Kira in The Dark Crystal and assisting Frank Oz as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. Outside the Muppets, she played Allegra on Allegra's Window and Leona Lion on Between the Lions, the latter of which she co-created with her husband Michael Frith, Jim's former head designer.
  • Jerry Nelson: Known for his vocal range, Nelson is known as the original performer of Count von Count, Herry Monster, Mr. Johnson, Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Robin the Frog, Uncle Deadly, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Pops, Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg, Marjory the Trash Heap and many others. Though he retired from puppeteering in 2004, he continued to lend his voice to Sesame Street until his death in 2012.
  • Frank Oz: An associate of Jim Henson since the early 1960s, he is known for originating the roles of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster and many others. He retired from regular puppeteering duties around 2000 to focus on his career as a movie director. Outside the Muppets, he is known for performing and voicing Yoda in the Star Wars films, starting with The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Karen Prell: Initially a performer on Sesame Street, she is best known for playing Red Fraggle on Fraggle Rock. She later became a CG animator on films like A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, as well as the video game Portal 2.
  • Martin P. Robinson: Joining in 1981, he is mainly associated with Sesame Street, where he is known for playing Telly Monster, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Slimey and others. He also played The Cat in the Hat in the second season of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.
  • Matt Robinson: Best known for playing human character Gordon in the first three seasons of Sesame Street, Matt created and voiced the character Roosevelt Franklin.
  • David Rudman: Mainly associated with Sesame Street, he is known as the current performer of Cookie Monster as well as Baby Bear and others. He is also the current performer of Scooter, Janice and Beaker. He, along with his brother Adam, co-created various preschool shows, including Jack's Big Music Show, Bunnytown and Nature Cat.
  • Caroll Spinney: Joining in 1969, he played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street almost exclusively since the very first episode. In 2018, shortly after filming wrapped up on the show's 50th season, Spinney announced his retirement. He is the subject of the documentary film I Am Big Bird.
  • Matt Vogel: Joining in 1996, he is noted for performing many roles originated by Jerry Nelson, including Count von Count, Mr. Johnson, Floyd Pepper, Robin the Frog, Crazy Harry, Uncle Deadly, Lew Zealand, Dr. Julius Strangepork and Pops. He also played Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted and has performed Sweetums since 2009. On Sesame Street, Matt also works as a writer, director and puppet captain, as well as being Caroll Spinney's understudy (and eventual replacement) for Big Bird. In 2017, he took over the role of Kermit the Frog following Steve Whitmire's ousting. Outside the Muppets, he played Wilkins in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
  • Steve Whitmire: Joining in 1978, he initially performed background characters on The Muppet Show before rising to perform major roles like Rizzo the Rat, Foo Foo, Lips, Bean Bunny, Waldo C. Graphic, Wembley Fraggle and Sprocket. After Jim Henson's death in 1990, Steve took over several of his roles, including Kermit the Frog, Ernie, Link Hogthrob and the Newsman and also took over Beaker and Statler after Richard Hunt's death and Jerry Nelson's retirement respectively. He was let go from The Muppets in 2016 due to various issues.
  • Victor Yerrid: Best-known for From the Balcony, where he performed Waldorf, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef, Sweetums and many others. Incidentally, he voiced Kermit in various Robot Chicken sketches.
  • Bryant Young: A trained dancer who has performed the back end of Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street since 1979. He also works as a choreographer on the show.

The Muppet Performers and their works provide examples of:

  • Author Avatar: Most Muppets are based on a personality trait or flaw of their performer. For example, Richard Hunt based Scooter on his young self.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Most of them, but Jerry Nelson was particularly known for this. It has been commented that Robin the Frog's voice was closest to his natural one and therefore hardest to duplicate.
  • Passing the Torch: In cases when an older performer is in poor health or retiring, an effort is generally made to allow them to pick successors for their roles. Eric Jacobson has taken on most of Frank Oz's key roles, while Matt Vogel was selected personally to take over for Jerry Nelson and also understudied Big Bird with Carroll Spinney before fully inheriting that role. Averted in the cases of sudden deaths (Henson, Hunt), resignations (Clash, Mazzarino) and firings (Whitmire).


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