Jane Henson, the widow of the late Jim Henson, donated ten characters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on Wednesday, including the original Kermit The frog. Kermit’s first appearance was on a television show called “Sam and Friends”, which was taped and aired in Washington DC, in late 1955. The original five puppets had five minutes on TV after the local news at night.
Puppeteer Jim Henson got into the business with Willard Scott along with others while attending the University of Maryland. Many that grew up with the puppets are happy to see them return. The Muppets have been a permanent fixture on Public Television for the last 40 years. Even Arthur Novell, executive director of the nonprofit Jim Henson Legacy in New York City stated, “It’s not just the puppets coming home, but in a way it’s Jane and Jim coming home.”
The Smithsonian already has a familiar Kermit the Frog puppet onsite. However, that particular Kermit puppet in its original form was more like a lizard, and his skin tone was a duller green. The older puppets body was made of an old coat thrown out by Henson’s mother.
Although Henson has already donated the ten puppets to The Smithsonian, she still has plans to donate about a dozen more puppets in the years to come. These donations could possibly include Miss Piggy. Conversely, The Walt Disney Company, who has owned rights to the Muppets since 2002, must make the final decision.