Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays: Karen Prell

 Today’s Weekly Muppeteer Wednesday is written by Tom Stroud.



Notable Muppet Characters…
Red Fraggle, Yolanda the Rat, Deena (Sesame Street) The Ghost of Christmas Past (Puppeteer), The Junk Lady (Puppeteer), The Worm (Puppeteer)


Karen Prell was born on July 31st in Florida. She moved around quite a bit, and ended up spending most of her childhood in Seattle. In high school, she became interested in both animation and puppetry, both of which influenced her future careers. She began to make her own puppets, and put on puppet shows for her neighbors. She made a connection with someone working with the Muppets, and sent a tape of her and her puppets to Henson, who hired her for Sesame Street. She first worked on Sesame Street in 1979, beginning with small roles. Her most known Sesame Street character is Deena, a pink monster who appeared with her caretaker Pearl in season 12. She later flew to England, and worked on the final season of The Muppet Show, playing minor parts, including the Robin in “Rockin’ Robin.”

Her most known character is Red Fraggle on Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson had just begun planning for Fraggle Rock soon after The Muppet Show ended, and called several puppeteers, including Karen, to audition, to see what they could bring to the show. Although she originally wanted to be Mokey, whom she believed matched her personality better, she ended up getting the role of Red. Although she was worried about preforming Red, she ended up loving the character, and the craziness it brought out in her. Red Fraggle and Fraggle Rock are the things that Karen Prell is best known for.

After the end of Fraggle Rock, she worked on Labyrinth, as the principal puppeteer of The Junk Lady and The Worm. Labyrinth is also where she met her future husband, fellow puppeteer Mike Quinn. She also worked on The Muppets Take Manhattan where she played Yolanda Rat, The Muppet Christmas Carol, where she puppeteered The Ghost of Christmas Past, and Muppet Treasure Island, her last major Henson production.

In 1997, she started working with Pixar, following her other high school interest, animation. She first worked on the short film, Geri’s Game, and later worked on A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2.  She also did animation for Frank Oz’s The Stepford Wives and the Disney film, Enchanted. She has not forgotten her puppeteering roots though, according to her website, Karen performed various background characters for The Muppets, which, as we all now, premieres this November. Karen has made a few recent appearances as Red Fraggle at the Manhattan debut of Fraggle Rock merchandise as well as appearances as ComicCon and Free Comic Book Day give aways.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

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