Frank Oz

Frank Oz (b. Frank Richard Oznowicz on May 25th, 1944) is one of the main Muppeteers for The Muppets. He is Jim Henson's closest collaborator as well as his best friend. His Muppet career started when he started performing Rowlf the Dog's right hand on "The Jimmy Dean Show". He was not comfortable doing voices at first, but started to contribute some when Sesame Street started. He still occasionally performs on Sesame Street, starting to appear less often around 2001. Frank Oz also performed Yoda in the Star Wars films, starting with The Empire Strikes Back.

Frank Oz and Jim Henson

It was with the several characters on which the two collaborated. Jim Henson and Frank Oz, together, made such memorable pairings as Ernie and Bert, as well as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and The Swedish Chef. 3 other characters that Oz performed, Fozzie Bear, Grover and Cookie Monster, would play off of Kermit on numerous occasions, and there was also Lefty the Salesman, who tried to fool poor Ernie on several occasions. Other pairings of the team's characters include Rowlf the Dog and Fozzie Bear, along with Rowlf sometimes paired with Miss Piggy. Kermit also had to listen to another of Frank's characters, Sam the Eagle endlessly complain about the weirdness of what was shown normally on The Muppet Show. Also, when it came time for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem to perform a number on any Muppet Show episode, Henson's Dr. Teeth and Oz's Animal were always positioned right next to each other on the bandstand, even after Jim died. Also, in episode 302, when guest star Leo Sayer had asked to meet Animal, Dr. Teeth brought Animal into Leo's dressing room so Animal could meet him. As in the case of Kermit and Piggy, on several occasions, Henson's characters usually became victim to Oz's characters, and, occasionally, vice versa. For example, Kermit became Marvin Suggs' victim in episode 506 of The Muppet Show, as well as Animal. The 1st time this occurred was in episode 110, when Animal beat on Kermit like a drum to get him to forget about replacing Animal as the show's drummer. They also worked together in the early 1980s while co-directing/performing in The Dark Crystal. They also played the parents in the Twiddlebug family with Henson performing the father, Thomas Twiddlebug, and with Oz performing the mother, Tessie Twiddlebug. It can be seen clearly that Jim and Frank had always been like brothers, like their primary characters on Sesame Street, Ernie and Bert, respectively, are today. At his Memorial Service, 5 short days after his death, Frank speaks of a Christmas gift Jim gave him, which he called Bert in Self-Contemplation". He starts to cry but manages to say "That's when I knew, he loved me & I loved him."

Michael K. Frith says that Henson & Oz's work was inspiring:

"I've always said, & I still believe, that we all basically rode on the coat tails of Jim Henson & Frank Oz. They were a comedy duo that is up there with Laurel & Hardy. I mean, they had that sense of timing, they had that sense of play between themselves, they had the ability to understand each others characters & play off them with their characters.""

Current Muppet Status

Starting in the mid-1990s, after 3+ decades of Muppet performing, Oz began to transition himself away from his Muppet duties to focus on directing. Immediately following Muppets from Space, all his main Muppet Show characters have been handed over to Eric Jacobson, who has also mostly taken over Bert & Grover, while David Rudman has become the new performer for Cookie Monster. Although, as David & Eric have once said, Oz usually comes in 4 or 5 times a year & will do a "Bert Day", "Grover Day", "Cookie Day", etc.

Muppeteer Credits

External Links

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