Written by Abigail Maughan
Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Lydia the Tattooed Lady
Performed by… Abby Hadfield (episode 203)
First Appearance… The Muppet Show episode 102: Connie Stevens (1976)
Most Recent Appearance… The Muppet Show episode 209: Madeline Kahn (1977), also The Muppet Show Season 5 theme song (1981)
Best Known Role… Tattooed lady; that encyclo-pyd-ia; the Queen of Tattoos
WHO IS LYDIA?
Lydia the Tattooed Lady is a scantily-clad pig with frizzy red hair, silver cat-eye glasses, and, of course, tattoos all over her body depicting historical events and locations drawn by Jim Henson himself, including but not limited to:
- The Battle of Waterloo
- The Wreck of the Hesperus
- The Red, White and Blue
- Washington Crossing the Delaware
- Andrew Jackson
She is the subject of the Groucho Marx song “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” reportedly a favorite of Jim Henson’s, and the opening number of the Muppet Show episode featuring Connie Stevens as the guest star. Kermit the Frog sings the song as Lydia energetically dances around him, showing off her corresponding pieces of body art as they are mentioned in the song, which also describes how she found love through her tattoos. Lydia smothers Kermit with kisses after their number, earning Kermit a beating from Miss Piggy.
Alas, Lydia was more or less a one-trick pony and only made two other appearances on the show. The first of these was amongst a group of Muppets joining Milton Berle in singing “The Entertainer” in episode 203. She had one line of the song all to herself and a female purple Whatnot, and was performed here by auditioning puppeteer Abby Hadfield. Later, in episode 209 featuring Madeline Kahn, Lydia joined a cluster of angry porcine in cornering Fozzie Bear after he sings a song speaking derogatorily of pigs. However, Lydia was a part of the female chorus line in The Muppet Show’s theme song for the show’s final four seasons.
WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED LYDIA?
You can learn a lot from Lydia!