Muppets Wizard of Oz

updated May 2005

The Muppet Recast FAQ

 

You'll notice a lot of recasts in the Muppets' Wizard of Oz movie -- some of the original Muppet performers have passed on, and some have retired from active Muppet performing. Having trouble keeping track of who's playing who? Here's a scorecard for the Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters who have changed hands.

 

(A note for purists: This FAQ tracks voices, not puppets, so it won't include instances of the original performer looping the character's voice.)

 

 

Animal

Original: Frank Oz, from 1975-1999. Oz has performed Animal most recently in Muppets From Space (1999).

Recast: Eric Jacobson performed the character in Very Merry Muppet Christmas (2002), and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005). John Kennedy has also performed Animal's voice in a Mastercard commercial (2002) and the Muppet Party Cruise Playstation game (2003). 

 

 

Beaker

Original: Richard Hunt, from 1977-1990. Hunt's last appearances as Beaker included MuppetVision 3D (1989) and The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: Steve Whitmire, beginning with The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), and continuing through Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Bert

Original: Frank Oz, from 1969-on. Oz performed Bert in Elmo in Grouchland (1999), and still performs Bert in some Sesame Street segments.

Recast: Eric Jacobson has been performing Bert in Sesame Street segments since 2000, and on Play With Me Sesame (2002).

 

 

Big Bird

Original: Caroll Spinney, from 1969-on. Spinney continues to perform Big Bird on Sesame Street, although he is also training an understudy.

Recast: Matt Vogel has been performing Big Bird in the "Journey to Ernie" segments on Sesame Street since 2002. Vogel has also performed Big Bird in various live appearances.

 

 

Cookie Monster

Original: Frank Oz, from 1969-on. Oz performed Cookie Monster in Elmo in Grouchland (1999), and performs Cookie's "Letter of the Day" segments on Sesame Street. He also performs in occasional new inserts for Sesame. 

Recast: David Rudman began performing Cookie Monster for insert sketches in 2000, and began appearing as Cookie Monster on the Street segments in 2002.

 

 

Dr Teeth

Original: Jim Henson, from 1975-1990. Henson's last appearance as Dr Teeth was in The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: John Kennedy first performed Dr Teeth for the soundtrack of the Disney World stage show, Muppets on Location (1991). He has since performed Dr Teeth in Muppets form Space (1999) and the Muppet Party Cruise Playstation game (2003).

Re-recast: Bill Barretta took over the role in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Ernie

Original: Jim Henson, from 1969-1990. Henson's Ernie sketches continue to appear on Sesame Street.

Recast: Steve Whitmire began performing Ernie with a brief appearance in Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1993). Whitmire started recording Sesame inserts in the mid-90's, and regular appearances on the Street starting in 2001. Whitmire performed Ernie for the first season of Play With Me Sesame in 2002.

Re-recast: John Tartaglia performed Ernie for the second season of Play With Me Sesame (2003).

 

 

Fozzie Bear

Original: Frank Oz, from 1976-1999, most recently in Muppets From Space (1999).

Recast: Eric Jacobson took over the role for A Very Merry Muppet Christmas in 2002, and continues in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Grover

Original: Frank Oz, from 1970-1999, most recently in Elmo in Grouchland (1999). 

Recast: Eric Jacobson started performing Grover on Sesame Street in 2000, and on Play With Me Sesame in 2002. Jacobson performed the new segments on the A Celebration of Me, Grover DVD in 2004.

 

 

Janice

Original: Richard Hunt, from 1975-1990. Hunt's last appearances as Janice were in The Muppets at Disney World and a brief appearance in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990). 

Recast: Matt Vogel performed Janice's dialogue in the Muppet Racemania game (2001). Janice was performed by Brian Henson in Very Merry Christmas (2002) and the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003). Tyler Bunch performed Janice in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Kermit

Original: Jim Henson, from 1955-1990. Henson's last appearances as Kermit include MuppetVision 3D (1989) and The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: Steve Whitmire, beginning with The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990). Whitmire has performed Kermit since then, from The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) through Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005). 

 

 

Lew Zealand

Original: Jerry Nelson, from 1978-on. Nelson most recently performed Lew in Muppets From Space (1999) and the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003).

Recast: Bill Barretta performed Lew in Very Merry Christmas (2002).

 

 

Link Hogthrob

Original: Jim Henson, from 1977-1990. Henson's last appearance as Link was in The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990). 

Recast: Steve Whitmire performed Link's dialogue in the Muppet Race Mania game (2001) and Muppet Party Cruise (2003).

 

 

Miss Piggy

Original: Frank Oz, from 1976-2002. Oz's most recent appearance as Piggy was on The Today Show (Jan 2002).

Recast: Eric Jacobson first performed Piggy in pre-recorded video greetings at Muppetfest (2001). He performed Piggy in Very Merry Christmas (2002), Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) and numerous special appearances. 

 

 

Newsman

Original: Jim Henson, from 1975-1990. Henson's last appearance as the Newsman was in The Jim Henson Hour (1989).

Recast: Jerry Nelson performed the Newsman's dialogue in the Muppets Inside CD-Rom (1996). Brian Henson performed the Newsman in the Muppet Show Live show at Muppetfest (2001), and in the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003).

 

 

Rowlf

Original: Jim Henson, from 1962-1990. Henson's last appearance as Rowlf was in The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: Bill Barretta made brief appearances as Rowlf in Muppets Tonight (1996) and Muppets From Space (1999). His first sizeable Rowlf performance was a scene with Kermit in Muppet Show Live at Muppetfest (2001). Since then, he's performed Rowlf in Very Merry Christmas (2002) and the MTV behind the scenes special for Weezer's "Keep Fishin" video (2002).

 

 

Sam the Eagle

OriginalFrank Oz, from 1976-1999. Oz's last appearance as Sam was in Muppets From Space (1999).

RecastKevin Clash performed Sam in Very Merry Christmas (2002) and the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003).

Re-recast: Eric Jacobson took over the role in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Scooter

OriginalRichard Hunt, from 1976-1991. Hunt's last appearances as Scooter included The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990) and The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990).

Recast: Hunt's brother Adam Hunt performed Scooter's voice in Muppets From Space (1999). Matt Vogel performed Scooter's dialogue in the Muppet Race Mania game (2001).

Re-recast: Brian Henson performed Scooter in Very Merry Christmas (2002), and the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003).

Re-re-recast: Rickey Boyd took over the role in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Statler

OriginalRichard Hunt, from 1976-1991. Hunt's last appearances as Statler included MuppetVision 3D (1989) and The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

RecastJerry Nelson performed Statler in The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppets Tonight (1996), Muppet Treasure Island (1996) and Muppets From Space (1999).

Re-recast: Steve Whitmire performed Statler in the Weezer "Keep Fishin" video (2002), and Bill Barretta performed him on Jimmy Kimmel Live (2003). Steve became Statler's official performer in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

Swedish Chef

OriginalJim Henson, from 1975-1990. Henson's last appearances as the Swedish Chef include MuppetVision 3D (1989) and The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: David Rudman performed the Chef in The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992).

Re-recast: Bill Barretta took over as the Chef's performer in Muppet Treasure Island (1996), the Muppet Playstation games (2001-03) and Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005). Dave Goelz performed the Chef in Muppets From Space (1999) -- Barretta apparently was supposed to reloop the dialogue, but never did. 

 

 

Sweetums

OriginalRichard Hunt, from 1976-1991. Hunt's last appearance as Sweetums was in The Jim Henson Hour (1989) and MuppetVision 3D (1989). 

Recast: John Henson took over the role in Muppet Treasure Island (1996), and performed Sweetums at Muppetfest (2001), in the Muppet Party Cruise game (2003) and in Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

Fill-in: Victor Yerrid has performed Sweetums when Henson wasn't available, at the opening of Disney's California Adventure (Feb 2001) and on Family Feud (Nov 2001).

 

 

Two Headed Monster

OriginalRichard Hunt and Jerry Nelson, from the 1980's to 1991.

Recast: From the 90's on, David Rudman performed the monster with Nelson. In the last couple seasons of Sesame Street, Joey Mazzarino has been performing Nelson's half. 

 

 

Waldorf

OriginalJim Henson, from 1975-1990. Henson's last appearances as Waldorf included MuppetVision 3D (1989) and The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990).

Recast: Dave Goelz has performed Waldorf in the Muppet TV shows and movies, from The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) through Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005).

 

 

 

Recast Trivia

 

-- Miss Piggy was alternately performed in the first season of The Muppet Show by Frank Oz and Richard Hunt. You can see Hunt's Piggy in some notable sketches, including the famous "Temptation" number and many early Vet's Hospital sketches. Oz took over as Piggy's sole performer in the second season.

 

-- Elmo was originally performed by Brian Muehl from 1979-1981, then by Richard Hunt from 1981-1985. (The puppet actually dates back to the early 70's, when the character was known as Baby Monster, played by Caroll Spinney.) Kevin Clash took over the role in 1985, creating the familiar voice and characterization that we know today.

 

-- Telly Monster was originally performed by Brian Muehl from 1979 to 1984. Marty Robinson took over the role in 1984.

 

-- Janice was originally performed by Fran Brill in the Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot, and in the first set of Muppet Meeting Films. Eren Ozker performed Janice in the first season of The Muppet Show; Richard Hunt took over the character in season 2, and gave Janice her familiar Valley Girl voice.

 

-- Mr Snuffleupagus was originally performed by Jerry Nelson, from 1971-1980. Martin Robinson took over the role from 1980 to the present.

 

-- Statler was performed by Jerry Nelson in the Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot. Nelson was unavailable for the first few weeks of production on The Muppet Show, so Richard Hunt took over the character.

 

-- Sweetums became well known as a Richard Hunt character, but he was performed by another puppeteer in his first appearance, in the 1971 special The Frog Prince. Carl Banas looped the voice in that special. Richard Hunt took over the role in The Muppet Show.

 

-- Ma Gorg was performed by Myra Fried in season 1 of Fraggle Rock, and by Cheryl Wagner from season 2 on.

 

-- Junior Gorg's body was performed by Rob Mills in the first three and a half seasons of Fraggle Rock, and by Frank Meschkuleit from episode 86 to the end of the series.

 

-- Crazy Harry was originally performed by John Lovelady in the Muppet Valentine Show (when he was known as "Crazy Donald") and in the first season of The Muppet Show. (Richard Hunt also performed Crazy Harry in the Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot.) Jerry Nelson took over the character from season 2 onwards. In 2005, Rickey Boyd performed Crazy Harry in Muppets' Wizard of Oz. 

 

-- Andy and Randy Pig: When they were known as The Two Little Pigs in Muppet Time, the characters were performed by Kevin Clash and Joey Mazzarino. They were given the names Andy and Randy Pig in Muppet Classic Theater; Andy was performed by Brian Henson, and Randy by Dave Goelz. In Muppets Tonight, Steve Whitmire performed Andy.

 

-- Barkley was originally performed by Brian Muehl on Sesame Street in the late 70's, by Toby Towson in the Special Sesame Street Christmas CBS special (1978), and then by Fred Garver in Follow That Bird (1985) and on the show in the mid-80's. Barkley is now performed by Bruce Connelly.


-- Gladys the Cow was originally performed by Richard Hunt on Sesame Street; Jennifer Barnhardt began performing the character in 2003. Barnhardt also performs Mama Bear, the mother of Baby Bear, who has previously been performed by Alice Dinnean-Vernon, among others.

 

-- The Big Bad Wolf is usually performed by Jerry Nelson on Sesame Street. The Wolf was performed by Noel MacNeal in Elmo's Musical Adventures: Peter and the Wolf (2000), and Joey Mazzarino in a recent Sesame Street appearance (2004).

 

-- George the Janitor was performed by Frank Oz in the first season of The Muppet Show. In the second season episode with Bob Hope, George was performed by Richard Hunt for one scene -- the musical number "For What It's Worth."

 

-- Mildred was originally performed by Richard Hunt in The Muppet Valentine Show. During the first season of The Muppet Show, she was alternately performed by Richard Hunt (panel discussion sketches) and by Frank Oz (At the Dance sketches), and she's performed by Dave Goelz in one episode (the Candice Bergen panel discussion sketch). Louise Gold performed Mildred in the second season (Rich Little ep) -- which was actually part of Gold's audition for The Muppet Show -- and in the third season (Pearl Bailey ep).

 

-- Wanda was performed by Eren Ozker in The Muppet Show's first season, but she was performed by Kathy Mullen when she reappeared in the Linda Lavin episode during the fourth season.

 

-- The Vet's Hospital announcer was performed by John Lovelady in the first season of The Muppet Show. Jerry Nelson took over in season two.

 

-- Nigel, the Muppet Show's conductor, was performed alternately by Jim Henson and John Lovelady.

 

-- Lenny the Lizard was performed by Jim Henson in the Rich Little episode of The Muppet Show. When Lenny auditioned for the role of emcee in the Steve Martin episode later that season, he was performed by Richard Hunt.

 

-- Shakey Sanchez, a nervous Muppet Show monster, was performed by Jim Henson when he was eaten during the "I've Got You Under My Skin" number on the first season Vincent Price episode. He was played by Steve Whitmire in the Glenda Jackson episode during the fifth season.

 

-- Storyteller Fraggle was performed by Richard Hunt in a first season episode of Fraggle Rock, and by Terry Angus from the second season.

 

-- Grandma Flutter was performed by Alice Dinnean in season 1 of Bear in the Big Blue House. Vicki Eibner took over the role from season 2 on.

 

-- Cat in the Hat was performed by Bruce Lanoil in the first season of The Wubbulous World of Dr Seuss; Marty Robinson took over the role in season 2.

 

-- Tizzy the Bee was performed by Karen Prell in season 1 of The Animal Show. Louise Gold took the role in season 2.

 

-- Jacques Roach was performed by Steve Whitmire in The Jim Henson Hour. The character was renamed Yves St LaRoach for The Animal Show, where he was played by Mak Wilson in the first season and John Eccleston in the second.

 

-- Mew the cat toy was performed by Steve Whitmire in The Christmas Toy, and by Mike Quinn in The Secret Life of Toys.

 

 

Information gathered for the original version of this FAQ by

Tough Pigs Foundation Research Fellows Kynan Barker and Danny Horn

with funding from the Corporation for Absurd Fanboyishness

and the generous support of Viewers Like You.

 

Thanks also to TP Foundation Research Consultant R.D.

 

and Research Assistants Dave Beukema, Jogchem Jalink,

Emmy Miklasevich, Ryan Roe, Chris Smigliano, Erik Browne, Tony Whitaker,

Galen Fott, Artie Esposito, Emma Shane, Sammie Rose and Scott Hanson.

 

 

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