- Friend: Pistorius shot gun out car without warning
- States wrestle with developing, restricting drones
- Japan marks 3rd anniversary of tsunami disasters
- Ukraine’s Crimea seeks to become independent state
- Ex-Gov. Christie aides to judge: Quash subpoenas
- Rich Peverley collapses on Dallas Stars bench; game postponed
- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
Henson donates original Kermit to Smithsonian
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,” Jane 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 Henson’s 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 City. “They started their careers, their lives in Washington.”
Even though they were in Washington, Kermit deliberately did not do politics or dabble in religion, Jane 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 lizard-like, 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 group also includes Henson’s oldest surviving puppet, Pierre the French Rat. The puppets mostly mimed on the show 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,” Jane 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.”
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, 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
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- EDITORIAL: Senate Democrats pointless all-night global warming talkathon
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Man with stolen passport on missing jet is asylum seeker
- Al Qaeda to launch English-language Web magazine 'Resurgence'
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again