Kermit the Frog Comes Home

Kermit the Frog at The Smithsonian

John Mueller/Extra Medium

Kermit the Frog at The Smithsonian

Today, a beloved, internationally-recognized icon moved to the Smithsonian. What many of you may not know is that he was born right here in Washington, D.C. Via the AP:

The original Kermit the Frog, his body created with an old dull-green coat and his eyes made of pingpong balls, has returned home to the nation’s capital, where the puppet got his start.

The first Kermit creation from Jim Henson’s Muppet’s collection appeared in 1955 on the early TV show “Sam and Friends,” produced at Washington’s WRC-TV. Henson’s widow Jane Henson on Wednesday donated 10 characters from the show to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

As part of “Sam and Friends–which aired on NBC-4– Kermit and his plush co-stars would appear for five minutes every evening, after the local news. More on the show, from Wiki:

Early in its run the show mostly featured the puppets lip-synching to popular songs of the day (if the song was by a female performer, the puppet would wear a wig while singing). Later, formal sketches were drawn up, many spoofing well-known television shows at the time, including Sam and Friends’ lead-in show in the Washington market, The Huntley-Brinkley Report.

A popular early sketch that would be used often in subsequent Henson productions was “Inchworm”, in which a character, often Kermit, would nibble on what looked like a worm, but would ultimately turn out to be the tongue or nose of a monster, who would devour him.

Another little-known fact? Kermit, or “Kermie”, as Miss Piggy would say, was initially more of a lizard than a frog. The ruffle around his neck was added to make him more frog-like (don’t all frogs have ruffled necks?); it also conveniently camouflaged a seam. The coat Kermit was made from had belonged to Henson’s Mother; she had thrown it away. I’m not sure if a discarded piece of outerwear has ever achieved more.