- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
Original Kermit donated to Smithsonian
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — The original Kermit the Frog, his body created with an old dull-green coat and his eyes made of pingpong balls, has returned home to the nation’s capital, where the puppet got his start.
The first Kermit creation from Jim Henson’s Muppet’s collection appeared in 1955 on the early TV show “Sam and Friends,” produced at Washington’s WRC-TV. Henson’s widow, Jane Henson, on Wednesday donated 10 characters from the show to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
She said the original characters provided five minutes of fun each night after the local news.
“I think people realized that if you put Kermit’s face up there, it was just as powerful,” Mrs. Henson, 76, said. “We were mostly just doing it to entertain ourselves.”
The Hensons attended the University of Maryland and got into the TV business with Willard Scott and other pioneers while in college. Their connection to the area makes the Smithsonian a perfect home for the original puppets, friends said.
“It’s not just the puppets coming home, but in a way it’s Jane and Jim coming home,” said Arthur Novell, executive director of the nonprofit Jim Henson Legacy in New York. “They started their careers, their lives in Washington.”
Even though they were in Washington, Kermit deliberately did not do politics or dabble in religion, Mrs. Henson said.
The Smithsonian already has a familiar Kermit the Frog puppet made famous on “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show.” But the original Kermit was more lizardlike and a duller green. His body was made from an old coat thrown out by Henson’s mother.
Some of the other early Muppets donated to the museum include the puppets that inspired Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch, as well as Sam from “Sam and Friends.” The puppets mostly mimed and would lip-sync to popular music.
Their first hit was “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” by Rosemary Clooney. Donning a wig, Kermit took the lead as “Kermina,” Mrs. Henson said. In 1969, Kermit made it big and joined “Sesame Street.”
Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers said the Muppets will be a boon for the museum’s collection.
“It certainly shows the Muppets at the beginning of the career of a large family of entertainers,” he said. “More than anything, I think it shows the genius of Jim Henson.”
Mr. Bowers said the museum plans to have the original Muppets on display by November in the pop culture gallery.
Visitors will recognize the original Kermit, though he didn’t have his trademark collar and webbed feet. But they probably won’t recognize the other characters, so the museum will help introduce them, Mr. Bowers said. Future plans call for adding clips of their early shows.
A traveling Smithsonian exhibit of Muppets opens Sept. 24 at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq