Jim Henson’s widow Jane has donated the original Kermit the Frog to the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Along with Kermit, Jane Henson also gave the museum the original Sam, from the 1955 TV show Sam and Friends where Kermit first appeared, Henson’s first puppet, Pierre the French Rat, what appears to be a Ralph, a voracious purple skull named Yorick and Mushmellon, early concepts of what would become Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch respectively, plus 3 other characters from the dawn of the muppet era.
They were handed to the museum in a ceremony on Wednesday. (Fun fact: Willard Scott was in attendance. Apparently he was a weatherman and children’s host on WRC-TV in 1955, the Washington, D.C., station where Sam and Friends debuted. He also played Bozo the Clown. I did not know that.)
Jane Henson said the original characters provided five minutes of fun each night after the local news where they mostly mimed to popular music.
“I think people realized that if you put Kermit’s face up there, it was just as powerful – we were mostly just doing it to entertain ourselves,” she said.
The Smithsonian already has a familiar Kermit the Frog puppet made famous on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.
But the original Kermit looked more like a lizard, made with ping-pong ball eyes and green felt from an old coat thrown out by Henson’s mother.
The first Kermit should be on display with his more recent brethren at the Smithsonian in November.