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Frank Oz.

Frank Oz (born as Richard Frank Oznowicz in Hereford, England, UK, May 25th, 1944) is a British born American puppeteer, filmmaker, and actor who performed the voice of Fungus in Monsters, Inc. and performed the voice of Subconscious Guard Dave in Inside Out.


Oz has had a long career as a performer and director. He is Jim Henson's closest collaborator/best friend and has been a "Muppeteer" with The Muppets from 1963-2002, and Sesame Street from 1969 to present. He performed the memorable Muppet characters Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam the Eagle, and also on Sesame Street, Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, and various other characters. In later years, Oz branched out into directing such movies as the 1986 version of "Little Shop of Horrors". Oz is also well known for performing the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars series.

Frank Oz and Jim Henson

It was with the several characters on which the two collaborated. Jim Henson and Frank Oz, together, made such memorable pairings as Ernie and Bert, as well as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and the Swedish Chef. Three other characters that Oz performed, Fozzie Bear, Grover, and Cookie Monster would play off Henson's Kermit the Frog on numerous occasions, and Lefty the Salesman was always trying to pull one over on poor Ernie. Other pairings of the team's characters include Rowlf the Dog and Fozzie Bear. Rowlf and Miss Piggy were also paired up together sometimes. Miss Piggy would be singing a song while Rowlf played the piano. Kermit also had to listen to another of Frank's characters, Sam the Eagle endlessly complain about the weirdness of what was shown normally on The Muppet Show. Also, when it came time for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem to perform a number on any Muppet Show episode, Henson's Dr. Teeth and Oz's Animal were always positioned right next to each other on the bandstand, even after Jim died. Also, in episode 302, when guest star Leo Sayer had asked to meet Animal after listening to Animal's drumming skill in his own hit song, "The Show Must Go On" Dr. Teeth brought Animal into Leo's dressing room so Animal could meet him (as well as warning Leo to stand behind a line on the floor, which was, apparently, the limit to which Animal's chain could reach). As in the case of Kermit and Miss Piggy, Henson's characters often became the victim of one of Oz's characters, and vice versa. For example, Kermit would become victim to Marvin Suggs in episode 506 of The Muppet Show, as well as Oz's character of Animal. The first time this occurred was in episode 110, when Animal beat on Kermit like a drum. The two also worked together during the early 1980s while co-directing and performing in The Dark Crystal. Henson and Oz also performed the parents in the Twiddlebug family with Henson performing the father, Thomas Twiddlebug, and with Oz performing the mother, Tessie Twiddlebug. [1] It can be seen clearly that Jim and Frank had always been like brothers, like their primary characters on Sesame Street, Ernie and Bert, respectively, are today. At his Memorial Service, 5 short days after his death, Frank speaks of a Christmas gift Jim gave him, which he called Bert in Self-Contemplation". He starts to cry but manages to say "That's when I knew, he loved me & I loved him."[2]

Michael K. Frith says that Henson and Oz's work was inspiring:

I've always said, and I still believe, that we all basically rode on the coat tails of Jim Henson and Frank Oz. They were a comedy duo that is up there with Laurel and Hardy. I mean, they had that sense of timing, they had that sense of play between themselves, they had the ability to understand each others characters and play off them with their characters.[3]

It can also be assumed that of all of the Muppeteers known to man, Frank Oz really was the most affected by Jim Henson's unexpected, very tragic passing.

Current Muppet Status

Starting in the mid-1990s, after 3+ decades of Muppet performing, Oz began to transition himself away from his Muppet duties to focus on directing. Immediately following Muppets from Space, all his main Muppet Show characters have been handed over to Eric Jacobson, who has also mostly taken over Bert & Grover, while David Rudman has become the new performer for Cookie Monster. Although, as David & Eric have once said, Oz usually comes in 4 or 5 times a year & will do a "Bert Day", "Grover Day", "Cookie Day", etc.

Muppeteer Credits


  1. Frank Oz and Jim Henson on the Muppet Wiki
  2. Frank Oz speaks at Jim Henson's Memorial Service
  3. A Company of Players.

External Links

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