Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Camilla the Chicken

WMW Camilla

Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by…
Jerry Nelson (1978-2003)
Alice Dinnean-Vernon (2005)
Matt Vogel (2008-present)

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 318: Leslie Uggams (1979)

Most recent appearance…
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Best known role…
Sweet, little chickadee to The Great Gonzo


Camilla is the fiery hen-honey of America’s favorite weirdo, The Great Gonzo. Presumably hatched in a hen-house on a Midwest farm, Camilla has pecked her way right into the hearts of Muppet fans since her humble beginnings as one of the many chickens featured on The Muppet Show. She has the incredible distinction of being one of the few chickens to have been named in the show. Though Gonzo says he has trouble telling the chickens apart because they all look alike, Camilla is distinct in that her eyelids are blue (yes, that’s the only defining characteristic).

Camilla is also notable because she’s one of only three semi-well known female characters within the Muppet cast. The other two being, of course, Janice and Miss Mousey (or something like that). Camilla’s first named appearance was in a season 3 episode of The Muppet Show guest starring Leslie Uggams. Gonzo tells Kermit that he’s nervous about taking Camilla out on a date, only to find that she has hay fever. He then tries to serenade his chicken date with a song, only to fall for the portly poultry that is Sesame Street’s Big Bird (one of Gonzo’s stranger moments…). Gonzo and Camilla’s on-again-off-again-peck-again relationship continues to this day.

Gonzo and Camilla have been the hottest weirdo/chicken couple in Hollywood for nearly thirty years (besides, of course, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) (you can figure out which one is which). They’ve been romantically entangled as a firmly established couple ever since The Muppet Movie.

Oddly enough, Camilla was sparsely seen with Gonzo (or anyone else, for that matter) in the early to mid 1990’s. Such movies as The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island left Camilla completely out of the picture. In fact, in the latter, Rizzo even eats a large chicken in Long John Silver’s kitchen and Gonzo doesn’t even bat a yellow eyelid.

Apparently this was a very difficult time in Gonzo and Camilla’s relationship. Camilla was nowhere in sight in Muppets From Space throughout the whole film, let alone on the beach at Cape Doom to see Gonzo off as he was about to leave for outer space with his alien family.

Thankfully, Camilla and Gonzo soon returned together in recent productions such as The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, Studio DC: Almost Live!, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, The Muppets, and Gonzo’s viral YouTube video “Classical Chicken.” In the YouTube video, Camilla even laid an egg that Gonzo seemed very concerned about. Possible beaky baby hatching in the future? …I doubt it.

Camilla has appeared in numerous Muppet productions since her debut. She was a featured character in The Muppet Movie, traveling alongside Gonzo and Kermit and the others to Hollywood. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, she was held hostage by phony talent producer Martin Price (Dabney Coleman) and was only saved when Animal grabbed the “bad man” by his ankles and refused to release.In the 1990’s, Camilla was mostly scarce. In 1990, she appeared with Gonzo at Walt Disney World in The Muppets at Walt Disney World. In this special, Gonzo led his little chick around the more… hidden locations of the Disney parks, including a sewer and a laundromat. Her only other appearance from that era was in one episode of Muppets Tonight starting the music for Gonzo’s act.

In more recent productions, however, Camilla has made a semi-resurgence. She appeared in Studio DC: Almost Live! Hosted by Selena Gomez in which Gonzo magically transformed her into a turkey. Camilla was the reason Gonzo/Tin Thing wanted a heart in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. She also appeared briefly in the beginning of A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Pepe, Rizzo, and Gonzo at the post office to mail their Christmas letters. 

Camilla appeared quite a lot in The Muppets in 2011, where she worked alongside Gonzo at his plumbing corporation, Gonzo’s Royal Flush. She also performed “Forget You” with her chicken pals. Camilla also appeared in Muppets Most Wanted in 2014.

This question is difficult to answer… but it’s one that needs to be answered for all Muppets. Why do the Muppets need Camilla? Well… it’s not easy to put into words, so we’ll put it into a hypothetical situation! Isn’t this fun?

What if Camilla left the Muppets? Well… then Gonzo would leave, obviously. And if Gonzo left, why is there any reason for Rizzo to stay? With Rizzo gone, there isn’t much reason for the other rats to hang around–or Pepe for that matter (no one else would get him, hokay). With the rats gone, Beauregard would leave. Without Pepe… well, no one would really leave, but they’d all feel a little empty hole. Without Beauregard, Scooter would probably have to double duty as go-fer and janitor, so Scooter would leave. Scooter’s leaving would force someone else into the go-fer/stage manager/janitor position, and no one would be able to fill all of those roles as efficiently as Scooter, so the show would crumble. Without the show, the Electric Mayhem would go off to find another gig, Fozzie would have to go play another night club, Robin would have no reason to stay and would go back to the swamp, Kermit would spend more and more time in the swamp, without Kermit, Miss Piggy would leave. And… well, I think you get the point.

If Camilla left, it would cause a massive, unforeseen chain reaction. So… let’s just not think about that, and say that this is why the Muppets need Camilla.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Camilla the Chicken

  1. Ha, loved the crack at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes… I never thought of Camilla as an integral part of the Muppet family before, only important to Gonzo…but you've convinced me otherwise now. I've seen the light!

  2. This is my passion. I know a lot of things about the Muppets. The Muppets are such well-known and likable characters that becoming a fan is easy and enjoyable and you and I are doing the best to keep believing this.

  3. I think the reason the Muppets need Camilla is because she represents a side of Gonzo that goes beyond his overactive libido. She represents his commitment and capacity to love romantically. Without her, I doubt I'd love Gonzo as much as I do.

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