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Moving Up the Ranks

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by D'Snowth, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    When I met Steve this summer, he explained that's why Jim Lewis hasn't been too involved with Muppet projects in recent years, to spend more time with his family. Which is all well and good. There's been plenty of people in various aspects of show business who choose family over career (most notably Rick Moranis); gotta respect that.
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  2. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    This is actually a really intriguing thread, I read through the whole thing (which I rarely do, regardless of the length).

    But, Jerry Nelson is another interesting case. He joined in about 1965 and went from having almost no speaking roles, to 1970 where he played almost all of the new characters in the second season of Sesame Street. I imagine that was to take the place of Caroll who mostly stopped doing inserts after season 1.
     
    Blue Frackle likes this.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I feel like as Big Bird and Oscar were becoming more prominent fixtures on the street itself is one of the main reasons why Caroll gradually stopped doing other inserts. And given that neither Jim and Frank wanted to spend every working day on SS, bringing in additional performers was the logical choice.

    But actually, Jerry did have speaking roles prior to that: he was Featherstone and one of the step sisters in HEY, CINDERELLA!
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  4. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    It’s interesting until about 1969 how Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson didn’t do any voices for their puppets.
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, Frank admits that he was always afraid of doing voices . . . not sure why Jerry didn't do voices, though.
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  6. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    Hm, I think Jim was too at first. That's one of the reasons why Sam & Friends characters would often lip-sync to old records instead of using their actual voices.
     
  7. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    I was thinking recently about Michael Earl Davis and how he got Snuffy right away and how John Stone got him fired.
     
  8. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    I remember Karen Prell saying in an interview that she and a few others like Michael were fired from SST, supposedly because they hadn't improved enough as performers, but I didn't realize Jon Stone was directly responsible. I was watching an interview the other day with Marty Robinson, and I find it interesting how no one ever mentions Michael Earl when talking about Snuffy's passed performers. I wonder why that is. Of course, it could just be that he played him for such a short time, but I kind of wonder if he didn't get along with the others on set and that was one of the reasons for his firing. Or, it could be that Jon Stone had a personal grudge against Michael, which wouldn't surprise me, given his sour relationship with Caroll Spinney.
     
  9. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    Michael Earl only did Snuffy for like two years and it wasn’t as grand for him.
     
  10. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    Jon Stone must have been very difficult to work with I imagine.
     
  11. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    I think Jon Stone had some favoritism towards the older puppeteers like Frank Oz and Richard Hunt.
     
  12. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    In regards to Michael Earl and Jon Stone, I believe I read an interview with Michael saying that Jon had it in for him because he supposedly, "didn't take direction as well as the other performers." I also seem to recall Jon was trying to weasel somebody else into breaking the news to Michael, but I can't remember who.
     
  13. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    I believe it was Lisa Simon who told Michael Earl the news.
     
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Thinking about it a little more, I guess in a way, it makes sense that certain "Second Generation" performers were moving up in the ranks so quickly, considering that Jim's core group of first generation performers (Frank, Jerry, Richard, Dave, and Steve) were usually heavily involved in whatever new projects Jim had in the works at any given time, whether it was a Creature Shop movie, or new specials, so there obviously needed to be new recruits to handle performing duties for on-going shows like SS or even FR to a certain extent, to fill the void.

    Come to think of it, it actually coincides with the point I made in another thread of how it seemed like SS particularly saw an explosion of newer Muppet characters from the very late 70s and into the 80s and 90s - to give these newer second generation performers characters they could perform on a regular basis, like Telly, Elmo, Hoots, and so on.

    At the same time, it also kind of makes sense, too, how Jim was keeping certain performers exclusive to certain entities within the Henson organization. It was rare to see Fran perform in anything outside of SS, even though she was hired specifically to have a regular female Muppet Performer in the roster since Jane had retired. Even Steve has said that he and Dave were usually excluded to certain specific projects.
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  15. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    I think that was why Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire didn’t really perform on Sesame Street during Jim Henson’s time.
     
    Zappetman likes this.
  16. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Exactly. In fact, it was only because of becoming Ernie's performer after Jim's death that Steve finally got to perform on SS (which he had always wanted to).
     
  17. vettech28

    vettech28 Well-Known Member

    There were some performers I feel that had the potential for regular major characters, but never got the chance like Camille Bonora and Jim Kroupa.

    Some performers moved up the ranks not necessarily within The Muppets or Sesame Street, but other Henson shows. Noel MacNeal usually did background characters for Sesame Street, but hit it big with Bear in the Big Blue House.
     
  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Didn't Camille Bonora retire from performing though? Either way, she was another really good performer, even if her vocal range was a tad limited (much like Leslie Carrara-Rudolph), and she seemed really prelevant in the late 80s and early 90s.

    As for Jim Kroupa, I haven't seen much of his performances, however, I know he does a lot of puppet building, including building the puppets for WIMZIE'S HOUSE.
     
  19. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    I always liked hearing Jim Kroupa's voice on Sesame Street. I believe I could actually hear his vocals in Little Chrissy's "You're Alive."
     
  20. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    Before I move on, I would just like to point out that Tyler never actually threw shade at Steve, he just somehow agreed with Cheryl that Steve performed Kermit as a "Bitter, angry, depressed victim." Back on topic, Ryan Dillon is someone who moved up the ranks of Muppet performing. He started working on Sesame when he was 17 and immediately got speaking parts. He just didn't have his own character until Kevin resigned and he became Elmo.
     

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