23 July 2010

Jim and Kermit

The left hand of Jim Henson

Jim Henson was left-handed, though he wore Kermit the Frog on his right hand when performing. He used his left hand to manipulate the wires that operate Kermit's hands. Generally Kermit will be seen holding things that have to be manipulated in his left hand.

Kermit is now played by Steve Whitmire, who is right handed, but the pattern set by Jim Henson still makes Kermit mainly left handed.

Kermit holds phone in his left hand

Muppet manipulation

"The Muppeteer or Muppet master always holds the Muppet above his head or in front of his body, with one hand operating the head and mouth and the other manipulating the hands and arms, either with two separate control rods or by "wearing" the hands like gloves. One consequence of this design is that most Muppets are left-handed as the puppeteer uses his right hand to operate the head while operating the arm rod with his left hand." (source: Wikipedia article.)

Live-hand muppets

The Sesame Street character Ernie is an example of a "live-hand" muppet. The muppeteer operates the character's head with his or her right hand, and his or her left hand is in the hand of the character. So all such characters (which include Ernie, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf the Dog, Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew) are left-handed. (See "performing Ernie")

Beaker and Dr. Honeydew, both left handed

However, when a character like Rowlf or The Swedish Chef uses both hands, Jim Henson would operate the head and another mupeteer would do both hands. In the picture below Steve Whitmire helps Rowlf play the piano. So at these times Rowlf would be right handed.

Steve Whitmire does Rowlf's hands

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