Kermit the Frog
Since 1955, Kermit the Frog has been a legendary force in the entertainment industry. He has starred in an incredible eight feature films, three television shows, and countless television specials. After nearly 60 years in show business, Kermit the Frog continues to be one of the world’s biggest celebrities–and certainly the most famous frog–ever. In March, 2014, The Muppet Mindset’s Ryan Dosier and Dan Shick sat down with Kermit for an incredible live interview during the press junket for Muppets Most Wanted. In our interview, Kermit was assisted by the phenomenal Steve Whitmire.
Beginning in 1965, Jerry Nelson was a core, irreplaceable part of countless Muppet worlds. Originating characters such as Floyd Pepper, Gobo Fraggle, Robin the Frog, Emmet Otter, Lew Zealand, Herry Monster, Marjory the Trash Heap, Pa Gorg, Crazy Harry, and, of course, Count von Count, Jerry has had a hand in bringing life to some of the most beloved Muppet characters of all-time. In 2009, Jerry released his first solo album Truro Daydreams. Jerry passed away in August, 2012. Getting to interview him was a huge honor and he will be forever missed.
Since 1974, Dave Goelz has been in the primary circle of Muppet performers. Starting as a puppet builder, Dave quickly joined the hierarchy of star performers on The Muppet Show. Dave brings to life beloved characters such as Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt, Beauregard, and many, many more. Dave has performed in every Muppet film and nearly every Muppet project since The Muppet Show. Most recently, Dave starred in Muppets Most Wanted. He is a true Muppet legend and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.
Bill Barretta has been an integral Muppet performer since 1996. In Muppet Treasure Island he performed Clueless Morgan and he rocketed from there. With Muppets Tonight came Bill’s first major characters, Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear, and Johnny Fiama. Since 2005, Bill has performed The Swedish Chef, Rowlf the Dog, and Dr. Teeth. Bill has also directed numerous Muppet projects, acted as Producer on The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, and is Puppet Captain for almost every Disney-produced Muppet project. He is one of the biggest champions of the Muppets and one of The Muppet Mindset’s greatest friends.
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Matt Vogel has worked as a principal puppeteer on Sesame Street since 1996. First working mostly on background characters and Anything Muppets, Matt rose to fame as Caroll Spinney’s understudy to Big Bird. He has recently joined The Muppets as a core performer, taking over most of Jerry Nelson’s characters such as Floyd Pepper and Lew Zealand. Matt has also originated his own characters, including 80s Robot in The Muppets and Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted. Matt has been one of The Muppet Mindset’s greatest friends and supporters.
Constantine is the World’s Number One Criminal and the World’s Most Dangerous Frog. First appearing in 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine infiltrated the Muppets with his Number Two, Dominic (Ricky Gervais), and convinced the gullible goofballs that he was really Kermit. In March, 2014, The Muppet Mindset’s Ryan Dosier and Dan Shick had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Constantine for a live interview during the press junket for Muppets Most Wanted. For our interview, Constantine was assisted by the immensely talented Matt Vogel. After our interview, we couldn’t find our wallets.
Peter Linz is an extremely talented puppeteer and performer whose past credits include Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House where he performed Tutter, and Between the Lions where he performed Theo Lion. Peter’s star rose exponentially when he received the role of Walter, the new Muppet star of The Muppets in 2011. Peter has risen to the ranks of one of the main Muppet performers for The Muppets Studio, continuing to perform Walter in Muppets Most Wanted and every appearance. Peter is perhaps The Muppet Mindset’s greatest friend and helped get Ryan Dosier on set of Muppets Most Wanted in May 2014.
Walter is the latest star to rise in the Muppet ranks. Thanks to his role in 2011’s The Muppets, Walter became one of the new most popular Muppet characters. In The Muppets, Walter is the World’s Biggest Muppet Fan and travels to Hollywood with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and helps to reunite and save the Muppets. Walter’s biggest hero is Kermit the Frog, and in Muppets Most Wanted he was a crucial part of saving Kermit from a Russian gulag prison. The Muppet Mindset got to interview Walter in January 2012 via Skype. Walter is a good friend of The Muppet Mindset and has even professed his love of the site in interviews.
Kevin Clash and Elmo
Kevin Clash was one of the main Muppet performers, directors, and producers on Sesame Street. He is best known for performing Elmo, one of the most famous Muppets of all time. Kevin has worked as a director, producer, puppet captain, and more for Sesame Street and its international projects. Kevin also performs Hoots the Owl on Sesame Street and Clifford of Muppets Tonight fame. Kevin was the subject of the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey which debuted at Sundance in 2011. He stepped down from Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop in 2012.
Fran Brill has been performing on Sesame Street since 1970. Fran was the first female Muppet performer hired by Jim Henson and has continued to perform on the show for over 40 years. Fran is best known for the classic characters Prairie Dawn and Zoe. Fran is also involved in many outreach programs for Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Legacy, and more. Outside of her roles on Sesame Street, Fran is also a wonderful actress who has appeared in films What About Bob? and Midnight Run. Ryan Dosier interviewed Fran during an appearance in Chicago, Illinois in 2010. Zoe was on hand, but unavailable for interview. Fran retired from Sesame Street in 2014 after 44 years.
Martin P. Robinson
Martin P. Robinson has been a core performer on Sesame Street for over 30 years. He is the performer of Telly Monster, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Slimey the Worm, and many others. Martin has worked to train puppeteers for numerous international co-productions of Sesame Street. He is married to Sesame Street writer Annie Evans and together they operate a blog for Sesame Street called “Sesame Family Robinson” which chronicles their careers and the lives of their adorable twins. Martin was interviewed by Ryan Dosier over phone in 2012.
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Leslie Carrara-Rudolph is the Emmy-nominated performer of Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street. She also worked on Muppets Tonight, performing Spamela Hamderson. Since beginning as Abby Cadabby, Leslie has been solidified as one of the core performers on Sesame Street. Leslie is also known for her incredible work in her family shows Wake Up Your Weird and Spunkinsass with her hilarious and endearing original puppets including Granny Dot and Lolly Lardpop. Leslie was interviewed for The Muppet Mindset over Skype in February, 2012.
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John Tartaglia has been a crucial performer on Sesame Street since he was only 16 years old. His most notable work came off the Street with his own children’s television show Johnny and the Sprites, and in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for the roles of Princeton and Rod. In April 2012, John helped bring the worlds of Jim Henson together in the Carnegie Hall show Jim Henson’s Musical World, which he wrote, directed, and hosted. John is an accomplished performer, director, writer, and producer.
Noel MacNeal is a performer for Sesame Street and The Muppets but his most famous role is as Bear in the beloved Henson/Disney television show Bear in the Big Blue House. Noel has worked with The Muppets since the days of Jim Henson and performed in Follow That Bird. In 2008, Noel performed Sweetums in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. His latest project is his first book, 10-Minute Puppets, teaching kids and families how to make and perform puppets. Noel continues to perform shows for families everywhere. Noel was interviewed by The British Correspondent (of all people) in early 2011.
Pam Arciero has performed on Sesame Street for over 20 years and has been a puppeteer her entire life. Pam is most well-known for performing the character of Grungetta the Grouch on the show, a female grouch and possible girlfriend of Oscar the Grouch. Pam’s many, many other puppetry credits include the role of Leona on Between the Lions, the consistent right hand of Telly Monster, and her heavy involvement with the famed O’Neill Puppetry Conference. Pam was one of the first Muppet performers interviewed for The Muppet Mindset way back in 2009, and we’ll always be thankful to her for her initial support.
Nicholas Stoller is a renowned comic writer and director. His incredible resume includes Director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement, and Neighbors. Stoller co-wrote The Muppets with Jason Segel and Muppets Most Wanted with James Bobin. Stoller, along with Segel and Bobin, can be credited for honing the humor that accompanied the Muppets in their recent resurgence. After meeting Ryan Dosier at the Muppets Most Wanted World Premiere in March 2014, Stoller sat down for a phone interview with Ryan ahead of the film’s release the following week. The interview was transcribed.
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Craig Shemin has been involved with the Muppets and The Jim Henson Company for over 30 years. Craig currently acts as president of The Jim Henson Legacy and writes for the Muppets on a regular basis. Craig’s many credits include work on The Muppets at Walt Disney World, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, and Henson-themed Smithsonian traveling exhibitions. In 2014, Craig wrote The Muppets Character Encyclopedia for Disney. Mitchell Stein interviewed Craig in 2014 about the book, The Jim Henson Company, and all other things Muppet and Henson.
Bonnie Erickson was an original Muppet designer on The Muppet Show and Muppet projects in the 70s and 80s. She is best known for designing the initial builds of Miss Piggy, Statler, Waldorf, and many other characters. She was a puppet designer, prop designer, and more with Jim Henson for many years. She is currently the Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy, which organizes Muppet events all over the country and helps to keep the spirit and magic of Jim Henson alive. Bonnie was heavily involved with the restoration of the Muppets donated to the Smithsonian museum in 2013.
Jim Lewis has been a writer for the Muppets for over 20 years. First working as a writer/editor on Muppet Magazine, Jim has since gone on to write for major Muppet productions including Muppet Classic Theater, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and Kermit’s Swamp Years. Recently, Jim has written Muppet interviews for almost every one of their TV appearances. He is also the ghost author of the Muppet autobiographies: Before You Leap, The Diva Code, and It’s Hard Out Here For a Shrimp.
Joey Bailey is a respected writer, author, and friend. He worked as a writer on Sesame Street through the late 70s and early 80s, penning some of the most beloved sketches. In 1978, he traveled to London to write for The Muppet Show as part of the writing staff of Season 2. Joe is responsible for many fan-favorite moments, including The Swedish Chef’s scuffle with the Lobster Banditos. In 2011, Joe published a book called Memoirs of a Muppet Writer, chronicling his life as a writer for some of the world’s most beloved characters.
Louis Henry Mitchell
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Louis Henry Mitchell has the greatest job on the world: he works on Sesame Street. As the show’s Associate Design Director of Special Projects, Louis does most of the photography of the Muppets for DVD covers, promotional images, and more. Louis is also a close associate of Kevin Clash and assists in the story boarding for countless Sesame projects. Louis is an incredibly talented illustrator, whose works can be seen adorning the hallways of Sesame Workshop from top to bottom. Louis is one of The Muppet Mindset’s favorite guests and always brings incredible stories to his interviews.
Paul Rudolph works as the Vocal Music Director for Sesame Street and has directed all of the music for the show since Season 40. Paul also works on the music for the show’s special projects and appearances, including their annual appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Paul’s work with the Muppets dates back to Muppets Tonight, where he was also music director for the show’s two seasons. Paul is the lucky husband of Muppet performer Leslie Carrera-Rudolph (Abby Cadabby). Off the Street, Paul performs with GLANK, a music group you should really look up.
Dave LaMatinna and Chad Walker
Dave LaMatinna and Chad Walker are two of the directors and filmmakers behind the upcoming feature documentary I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, chronicling the life and career of Muppet performer Caroll Spinney and his wife Deb Spinney. Through Kickstarter, the I Am Big Bird team raised over $100,000 to produce and distribute the film. Dave and Chad shared with us some of the most exciting aspects of working on I Am Big Bird and working with Caroll Spinney, his wife Deb, and others associated with Sesame Street and the Muppets. I Am Big Bird will release wide sometime in 2014.
Melissa Doss was a contestant on Season 1 of SyFy’s hit reality competition series Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. With her can-do spirit and immense talent, Melissa advanced to the final three competitors on the show. Some of the incredible, wonderful creatures designed by Melissa included a Skeksis called SkekSith, a sea serpent, a Long-Bladed Swamp Foul, and more. Melissa may not have won the competition, but she became a major fan-favorite competitor and continues to create incredible creatures. Melissa was interviewed ahead of the season finale of the show in May 2014 before a winner had been revealed.
Juliana Donald is an accomplished actress, best known to Muppet fans for her role as Jenny in The Muppets Take Manhattan. Juliana has also worked on numerous films and television programs including Star Trek, and NYPD Blue. She has since gone on to receive her Master’s Degree and is currently setting out to develop a career in fashion.
Nathan Danforth is an extremely talented puppeteer who had the amazing opportunity of working on The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted as a background performer and the understudy for Sweetums. Nathan has also contributed to numerous Jim Henson Company (such as Neil’s Puppet Dreams) and Disney puppet projects and is a personal friend of Jason Segel. Nathan is a personal friend of The Muppet Mindset and one of our favorite people.
Michael Earl performed on Sesame Street in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He originated the popular character of Forgetful Jones. He also performed the voice and front half of Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey the Worm. He currently freelances in his puppetry work and has recently started an educational school for young puppeteers called, simply, Puppet School.
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Gabriel Velez is a talented puppeteer and voice artist who performed the Muppet Dani in the Sesame Street video special “A” is for Asthma and Osvaldo the Grouch on Sesame Street. Gabriel worked with Henson and Sesame Workshop in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Rocco Fonzarelli has worked on numerous films and television shows and has a truly varied career. His passion, however, is the Muppets. He was lucky enough to work on the Sound Team for The Muppets in 2011 where he worked alongside director James Bobin and music supervisor Brett McKenzie, and even hung out with some Muppets!
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Amy Mebberson is an extremely talented comic book artist. Her Muppet credits include full art duties on Muppet Peter Pan, The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion, and Muppet Sherlock Holmes. Amy has also illustrated numerous official Disney art prints and is known for her “Pocket Princesses” comic series.
James Silvani is a wonderfully talented comic book artist who has worked for Disney for many years. His Muppet credits include art duties for Muppet King Arthur and numerous Muppet variant covers. James also illustrated the Darkwing Duck comic series. In the past, James has done promotional work for the Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and more.
Dave Alvarez is a talented cartoonist and comic book artist with many professional credits under his Ghostbusters belt. His Muppet credits include various Muppet comic cover art variants and the art duty on Muppet King Arthur #1. He has also drawn unofficial Muppet comics on his website. His other credits include official pieces of Looney Tunes and Disney promotional artwork.
Grace Randolph is a prolific and respected comic book writer with a love for the Muppets. Her credits with Henson-properties include singular writing credits on Muppet Peter Pan and the Fraggle Rock Comic Book. Grace has also worked consistently for Disney, Marvel, Archaia Entertainment, TokyoPop, and DC Comics. She does plenty of work through her website as well.
Dave Hulteen, Jr.
Dave Hulteen is more than a fan-artist, he is a force in the Muppet fan world. His artwork has been featured here on The Muppet Mindset in the headers for our anniversary and the holiday seasons of 2009 and 2010. Dave’s work is also featured constantly on ToughPigs and The MuppetCast. He recently started his own website, Dave Hulteen Design and operates Hulgreen Productions.
Photographer Alexi Lubomirski recently photographed Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy for GQ magazine. Lubomirski is world-renowned for his fashion photography, having photographed the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, among others. His work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, and Wonderland.
Jeni Rizio is the owner/operator of CarollSpinney.net, the official web fan page for Muppet performer Caroll Spinney. She is a personal friend of Caroll’s and often visits him and his wife Deb. Jeni stopped by to share her experiences with Caroll and to talk about I Am Big Bird, as an official representative for the film.