Historical Events  TV
Rowlf Muppet

When did the first muppet appear?

MMDE: 1955

Current: 1976

The Muppets are so ingrained in popular culture today that it's hard to think of a time when they didn't exist. From Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy through to the Animal and all the rest of them, the very term "Muppet" has entered the vocabulary as a descriptive term for someone.

Yet there was a time when they first appeared, and most people assume this was when they got their own show in 1976. They are incorrect. Those even more savvy might point out they were on Sesame Street for many years prior to that, but when it comes to the first appearance, they are out by a couple of decades.

That's because the first Muppet to appear on television was actually in 1955. Jim Henson created them for the show Sam and Friends, which ran for 6 years from 1955, and following appearances in advertising campaigns and some late night TV shows, joined Sesame Street in 1969.

Marionette + Puppet = Muppet

Henson originally designed his Muppets for an adult audience. Kermit and Rowlf regularly made appearances on well-known 1960's late night talk shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show and The Jimmy Dean Show.

Movies

The first movie starring The Muppets was The Muppet Movie in 1976. Disney acquired the rights to the Muppets and began incorporating them into their theme parks as well as more movies: The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets from Space amongst others.

For such a popular worldwide phenomemom as The Muppets, it's not difficult to see why people would think they only appeared, ready-made, for the first time when they got their own show in 1976, becasue the years spent breaking it to the big time would have gone largely unnoticed, or forgotten, by the target audience, which of course was children.