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Jim Henson Puppeteering Kermit on Set of ‘The Muppet Movie’

A look at the man behind the felt.

Jim Henson Kermit Muppet Movie
Jim Henson Puppeteering Kermit the Frog on set of The Muppet Movie

Jim Henson was Hollywood royalty during his time, and was best known for being the driving force behind The Muppets. After having worked on the Muppets for years, Henson and company brought the felt ensemble to the big screen in 1979 with “The Muppet Movie.”

Despite the fact that at this point is his career Henson was a star in his own right, and could probably get away with taking a much less hands-on approach, Henson was hugely involved in “The Muppet Movie.” Not only did Henson voice Kermit the Frog, alongside numerous other characters, he also acted as puppeteer on set.

For example, in the film’s iconic Rainbow Connection scene, Henson squeezed himself inside a metal tube underwater, alongside a monitor to watch, so that he could manipulate Kermit’s entire body in the scene, as opposed to just showing part of the puppet in order to hide the performer behind a wall or curtain.

Additionally, the film’s grand finale scene employed hundreds of puppet operators in order to include practically every Muppet ever made on screen at once. Other clever tactics used include fully remote-control puppets, as well as hiding stunt drivers inside of cars while shooting.

Henson’s influence on film extended past just The Muppets. He assisted the creation of Yoda for “Empire Strikes Back,” and introduced Frank Oz to George Lucas to voice the part. Henson’s earliest iterations of The Muppets appeared in sketches in the first season of Saturday Night Live, and directed the cult classic film “Labyrinth” starring David Bowie. The Muppets live on to this day, most recently with an improv sketch show on Disney+.