Kermit the Frog is a Muppet character created and originally performed by Jim Henson.Introduced in 1955, Kermit serves as the straight man protagonist of numerous Muppet productions, most notably Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, as well as in other television series, feature films, television specials, commercials, and public service announcements through the years.
Henson performed Kermit until his death in May 1990; Steve Whitmire performed Kermit from that time until his dismissal in 2016. Kermit is currently performed by Matt Vogel. He was also voiced by Frank Welker in Muppet Babies and occasionally in other animation projects, and is voiced by Matt Danner in the 2018 reboot of Muppet Babies.
Kermit performed the hit singles "Bein' Green" in 1970 and "Rainbow Connection" in 1979 for The Muppet Movie, the first feature-length film featuring the Muppets. "The Rainbow Connection" reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Kermit's iconic look and voice have been recognizable in popular culture worldwide since, and in 2006, the character was credited as the author of Before You Leap: A Frog's Eye View of Life's Greatest Lessons, an "autobiography" told from the perspective of the character himself.
History with the Macy's Parade
Kermit's involvement with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1977, when the new parade executive Jean McFaddin made the television host her first choice for a new balloon. The balloon was constructed of 72 pattern pieces and 14 compartments; with a model of the balloon's design being used for the first time to keep the finished product on-model. By fall, the sixty-three foot tall balloon was ready to be test flown in Rockmart, Georgia. The real Kermit appeared to report as the 200-pound balloon was filled with the 6,500 cubic feet of helium needed to get it off the ground.
That year, the balloon successfully flew in the Macy's Parade itself. The balloon flew alongside the Sesame Street float, a position it often kept until that was retired in 1982. While the balloon's debut was overshadowed by that of the Hobbit float, it was still clear that it was one of the highlights of the parade.
Just before the balloon's second flight the following year, Kermit appeared alongside fellow Muppet Fozzie Bear to host Hip Hip Parade, a half-hour PBS special that gave a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Macy's Parade.
In May 1979, the Kermit balloon was shipped to England to appear at a massive party celebrating the Year of the Child, becoming the first Macy's balloon ever to appear outside of the United States. The larger than life frog waved to kids from an anchored perch stationed in the center of the party.
Later that year, following the balloon's return to the U.S., Kermit the puppet appeared in the parade for the first time to promote The Muppet Movie, riding in the Electric Mayhem Bus alongside Fozzie, The Great Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, Dr. Bunsen HoneydewDr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Swedish Chef, Camilla the Chicken, and, of course, the Electric Mayhem itself. Preceding them was Miss Piggy in a Rolls-Royce vehicle.
The balloon ran into its first major accident in the 1985 parade. While flying over Columbus Circle, the balloon's stomach was torn by several trees, sending it crashing into the ground. Although Jean McFaddin considered removing the waterlogged frog, she and the balloon's handlers decided to keep him in the parade. By the time the frog arrived in Herald Square, only about a yard off the ground, he "looked as if he passed out", as host Pat Sajak put it.
Kermit returned in puppet form for the 1987 parade, this time alongside Muppet creator Jim Henson, who had been performing him for 32 years. As the balloon flew by, parade host Willard Scott presented the duo with a Rollie Award for their contributions to the parade. Following the parade, the original Kermit was retired from the parade - at least, for the time being.
Just three years later, the balloon was brought back to the parade to pay tribute to Henson, who had passed away earlier that year; accompanying it was a Rolls Royce with costumed versions of Kermit and Miss Piggy in tow. Scott, who had worked alongside Henson at WRC-TV in 1955, presented a tribute montage showcasing Henson's contributions to the parade.
The balloon suffered its second major accident in 1991, when a lamppost in Times Square ripped its head and left it hanging for the rest of the parade. Although the balloon was repaired following the parade, it was permanently retired afterwards, only appearing once more the following year at the Macy's New York Christmas event in Disney-MGM Studios. The fate of the balloon after this has never been revealed.
In 1994, Kermit was declared Macy's Holiday Ambassador, and the walkarounds of him and Miss Piggy returned to the lineup riding on a horse carriage. The Kermit walkaround would be used one last time in 2001, appearing on the Toon Balloon-Abration float alongside several other characters who had been represented in the parade.
The following year, a new Kermit balloon was created for that year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This new balloon was named Macy's Holiday Ambassador for its debut, and consequently had the honor of preceding Santa Claus. Meanwhile, the Muppet versions of Kermit and Miss Piggy were interviewed by Al Roker about [a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie], set to premiere the following day.
This new balloon was initially retired following the 2004 parade, but did appear atop the [Film Festival] building in April 2005 as [Muppets' Wizard of Oz] made its world premiere. The balloon eventually returned to the lineup in 2007, and continued to fly in the parade until 2012.
The real Kermit returned to the parade in 2008, singing "I Believe" atop the new Winter Wonderland in Central Park float as it was escorted by Camp Broadway. The following year, he returned on the Cornucopia float, reprising the song in a duet with Tiffany Thornton.
For the landmark 90th parade in 2016, Kermit and many of the other Muppets performed a special act to open the broadcast. Appearing alongside him were most of the Muppets present in the 1979 parade, now joined by Lew Zealand, Sweetums, Pepe the King Prawn, Statler and Waldorf, chickens, penguins, and a turkey. Following the opening number, Miss Piggy appeared in the introduction with hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, which was followed by the Electric Mayhem's live performance of Twist and Shout. Toward the end of the parade, Miss Piggy performed "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in a duet with Tony Bennett on the Hallmark Channel float.
- Kermit, alongside The Pink Panther, and Spider-Man, are the only giant balloons known to be ripped at the stomach due to an accident.
- In September of 2018, artist Alex Da Corte created a replica of the original Kermit balloon with a deflated head, mimicking the incident that occurred during the 1991 Parade.
Below, you will find a list of the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast.
- It's Not Easy Being Green (Milton Delugg) (1977-1985, 1991)
- Rainbow Connection (Milton Delugg) (1986-1987, 1990, 2007-2012)
- The Muppet Show End Credits Theme (2002-2004)
- Kermit the Frog/Gallery
- Abby Cadabby
- Big Bird
- Fraggle Rock
- Sesame Street
- Super Grover
- The Electric Mayhem Bus