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 has appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as one of its longest-running balloon characters, first appearing in 1977. The original Muppet version of the character has also appeared in the parade on various occasions, most notably in 2016.
As a Muppet
During his original balloon's test flight in 1977, the real Kermit also made a guest appearance as a news reporter to talk to visitors while his balloon was flown for the first time.
In 1979, Kermit appeared again with many of his fellow Muppets to promote The Muppet Movie. His on-and-off-again girlfriend, Miss Piggy, rode in a Rolls-Royce vehicle, leading the rest of the troupe on "The Electric Mayhem Bus," which, in addition to Kermit himself, also carried Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Rowlf the Dog, Scooter, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, the Swedish Chef, Camilla the Chicken, and the members of the Electric Mayhem itself: frontman and keyboardist Dr. Teeth, drummer Animal, bassist Floyd Pepper, lead guitarist Janice, and saxophonist Zoot. Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo returned to promote the follow-up movie The Great Muppet Caper, in a taxi cab driven by minor character Beauregard.
In 1987, Kermit appeared alongside Jim Henson as they accepted the Rollie Award for the Kermit balloon.
In 1990, Kermit and Miss Piggy both rode on a Rolls Royce, with clips of the Muppets' previous appearances in the parade shown as a tribute to Jim Henson, which preceded the appearance of Kermit's balloon counterpart.
In 1994, costumed-character versions of Kermit and Miss Piggy appeared riding on a horse carriage, as holiday ambassadors. The walk-around Kermit returned in 2001 to appear on the Toon Balloon-Abration float, which commemorated the parade's special 75th anniversary, along with walk-around versions of Snoopy on Skates, Sonic the Hedgehog, Garfield, and other characters whose balloons in the parade who had been retired. Kermit and Miss Piggy also appeared in the 2002 parade, where they promoted It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
The real Kermit returned in the 2008 parade to sing the song "I Believe" on the all-new Delta Air Lines Central Park float. He also sang this song in the next parade (2009), this time on the Cornucopia float in a duet with Tiffany Thornton.
For the 90th Anniversary Parade in 2016, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets performed a special act to open the broadcast. The song "Hey, A Movie!" from The Great Muppet Caper was converted into a special variation called "Hey, It's Macy's!", which appeared as the broadcast's opening number and was sung by a large crowd of Muppets. In addition to those characters that were present in the Muppets' first appearance in 1979 (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, the Swedish Chef, Bunsen and Beaker), the 2016 Muppet ensemble also included Rowlf the Dog, Lew Zealand, Sweetums, Pepe the King Prawn, and Statler and Waldorf. The troupe was accompanied by Muppet chickens, penguins, and a turkey; as well as assorted Macy's clowns, dancing Christmas trees, marching bands, cheerleaders, and Pilgrims. 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.
As a Balloon
Kermit (V1) (1977-1987, 1990-1991)
The Kermit balloon first appeared in the 1977 Macy's Parade, when the popularity of The Muppet Show was at its highest. He mainly appeared after and/or before the Sesame Street float until 1982.
In 1979, the balloon traveled to England to help celebrate the International Year of the Child, becoming the first Macy's balloon ever to appear outside of the US. After the 1987 Parade, he was initially retired, but the balloon would later be brought back in 1990 to honor Jim Henson on the year of his death.
In 1991, the Kermit balloon was ripped by a tree in Central Park West, leaving its head dangling for the rest of the parade. During the NBC broadcast, the balloon was presented via footage of The 1985 appearance. The balloon was ultimately retired that same year, as it was starting to show signs of wear and tear. However, he would make one last appearance at the Macy's New York Christmas event in 1992 at Disney-MGM Studios. This version hasn't been seen since this appearance and was very likely that the balloon was disposed of years later, like many other Goodyear balloons.
Kermit (V2) (2002-2004; 2007-2012)
After a leap of absence that lasted over a decade, Kermit made his grand return in the 2002 Parade, this time as a brand-new Macy's balloon. Much like the previous design, this balloon has a generic design, but with a slightly altered pose and a more modern appearance. The same year of his return, he was also named Macy's Holiday Ambassador of 2002, and tied in with Kermit plushies sold exclusively at Macy's department stores. Like his original balloon, he was initially retired after the 2004 parade, but a year later, he was strapped on top of the Tribeca Film Festival building to promote "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz". He would eventually return to the Parade lineup two years later in 2007. The balloon became a Parade mainstay, having made continuous appearances until 2012, when he was ultimately retired, and a new Kermit balloon has yet to be made for the Parade.
- In 1985, his stomach was ripped open when the balloon crashed into some trees at Columbus Circle. According to an interview with then-Parade director, Jean McFadden, she attempted to remove the balloon from the Parade after the incident, but outcry from the crowd made her keep Kermit in, even with only 30% of his helium left, who was carried for the rest of the route. This would go on to be one of the best-known incidents in the parade.
- In 1987, his right arm and hand were ripped by trees.
- In 1991, as stated above, Kermit's head was ripped by a lamppost at Times Square, leaving the balloon's head dangling for the rest of the parade. His right hand and left foot were also deflated by the time he had the accident for unknown reasons, but it is possible they lost helium overtime during the route due to the balloon's wear and tear. Despite the hole in his head being repaired the following year, he was retired after the incident due to the balloon showing its age and wearing out.
- The original Kermit balloon's arms and hands were frequently bent, mainly due to the weight of the hand compared to the skinny arms of the balloon.
- In 1983, Kermit's left hand was deflated.
- In 2012, Kermit's legs were slightly bent.
- Kermit is one of the few Goodyear balloons to actually have a model, rather than a blueprint, which most balloons at the time utilized.
- Kermit, alongside The Pink Panther, and Spider-Man, are the only giant balloons known to be ripped at the stomach due to an accident.
- The original Kermit balloon was the very first balloon to appear outside of the U.S.
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)