Top Eight Frank Oz Characters
Frank Oz, also known by his birth name of Richard Frank Oznowicz, is perhaps the most skilled puppeteer of all time, more so than the man who made him famous – Jim Henson. A descendant of Holocaust refugees, Oz comes from a family of puppeteers, and has voiced some of the most memorable puppets of all time. While his entertainment skills go beyond puppetry, it’s the characters he voiced and managed that earn him a place next to Henson and Edgar Bergen on the Mount Rushmore of Puppetry.
Sam the Eagle is the all-American Muppet and perhaps the only one who votes – for the Republicans. He was only a bit player on the Muppet Show hence the high number on this list. But he paved the way for other right-wingers such as American Dad‘s Stan Smith and King of the Hill‘s Hank Hill.
Animal is a one-trick pony, but influenced rambunctious behavior in children since the 1970s. See Gunaxin’s Tribute to Animal
Cookie Monster is one of the most popular characters on Sesame Street, but like Animal, he too is a one-trick pony, and became an advocate for childhood obesity.
Oz’s Bert is the straight man to Henson’s Ernie. He collects paper clips and enjoys pigeons. People have been speculating that he’s gay for many years, and Gunaxin urges him and Ernie to come out of the closet. Bert is hardly funny on his own, thus the relatively high number on this list, but paired with Ernie, the two belong on the top of the best Muppet pair list, next to Statler and Waldorf.
Grover, who is essentially a dork, looks like Cookie Monster’s anorexic brother, but gets a higher spot on this list because he has a bit more to him.
Sounds like: Yoda, Piggy
Fozzy Bear is the lovable stooge on the Muppet Show who is hellbent on entertaining the masses with stand-up comedy, something like Jimmy from South Park.
Some folks may roll their eyes at this pick, but Miss Piggy was not an easy character to perform, and it’s Oz – not the writers – who made her a star. Miss Piggy was a high-maintenance Muppet to manage and operate (surprise), especially compared to Henson’s Kermit the Frog.
Sounds like: Yoda, Grover
It’s a shame in a way that the most famous of Oz’s characters wasn’t part of the Henson family. Instead, Oz was suggested by Henson to George Lucas to voice Yoda.
Sounds like: Grover, Piggy
Jim Henson performed the voice and head of the Swedish Chef, but Frank Oz performed the hands, which required real hands since the chef had to prepare food. The magic of this character wasn’t just the nonsense and hilarity, but the fact that Oz would randomly throw things, forcing Henson to react. With this in mind, go watch Swedish Chef skits and see if you can pick out the unscripted moments in Gunaxin’s Tribute to the Swedish Chef. Oz was also the puppeteer for characters in The Dark Crystal, such as Chamberlain, but didn’t provide the voice.