How Jim Henson's Muppets Work

by Chris Brower

Jim Henson's Muppets have entertained people for decades. They have been featured in several television series and movies, and have taken the form of animals, humans and other creatures. The Muppets are puppets controlled by puppeteers. However, how the Muppets are operated varies based on what kind of Muppet it is.

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General

One or two people operate a Muppet at a time. The puppeteer routinely provides the voice of the Muppet, speaking into a wireless microphone that's attached to a headband around his head. The puppeteer typically holds the Muppet above his head, controlling the mouth and hands of the Muppet using his hands. A monitor is in front of each puppeteer where he can watch how the actions of the Muppet look. His script is also placed by the monitor for him to follow along.

Rod Muppet

Rod Muppets are the most common of the Muppet type. Rod Muppets are operated by one puppeteer using rods that control the Muppet's hands. Kermit is an example of a Rod Muppet. The puppeteer extends her right arm through the body of the Muppet, reaching her hand into the puppet's mouth. The hand opens and closes to control the Muppet's mouth. The puppeteer's left hand holds the two rods that control the Muppet's arms, moving them to create Muppet arm movements.

Two-Handed Muppet

Two-Handed Muppets are typically bigger Muppets. An example is Cookie Monster. Two-Handed Muppets require two puppeteers, with one providing the voice, but both operating the actions of the Muppet. One puppeteer, usually the one that also provides the voice, places his right hand into the body of the Muppet, with his right hand reaching into the mouth to control mouth movements, similar to how Rod Muppet puppeteers control mouth movements. His left hand controls the left hand of the Two-Handed Muppet. The second puppeteer places his right hand into the body of the Muppet and into the right arm of the Muppet, controlling that arm.

Full-Body Muppet

Full-Body Muppets are typically the biggest Muppets. The most well-known example is Big Bird. The full body of the puppeteer is inside a Full-Body Muppet. Like all the other Muppets, the right hand extends up into the mouth of the Muppet, providing the mouth movements. This right hand also controls any eye movements and the right arm. The puppeteer's left hand controls the left hand of the Full-Body Muppet. The puppeteer also provides the voice.

About the Author

Chris Brower is a writer with a B.A. in English. He also spent time studying journalism and utilizes both to deliver well-written content, paying close attention to audience, and knowing one word could determine whether a product is a success or a failure. He has experience writing articles, press releases, radio scripts, novels, short stories, poems and more.

Photo Credits

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