Early Kermit Among Muppets Given to Smithsonian

The family of Jim Henson has donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., 10 puppets the famed entertained created for his 1955 TV show Sam and Friends ‘ including the original Kermit the Frog.

Sam and Friends debuted in 1955 on WRC-TV, a local station in Washington, D.C.

The original version of Kermit, who later became Henson’s best-known character via appearances on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and the Muppet movies, is made from an old green felt coat and has ping-pong balls for eyes.

‘Jim Henson embodied the innovation and ingenuity that is inherent in American culture,’ said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. ‘Beyond the entertainment value Henson’s creations provided, his work helped educate and inform his audiences, an influence that continues today.’

Other characters in the lot include Pierre the French Rat; Yorick, a precursor to hungry monsters like Cookie Monster; Mushmellon; and Sam, who never spoke but lip-synced to popular music and comedy records of the time.

‘It is wonderful that Sam and Friends should find themselves back here in Washington, D.C., where they first appeared,’ said Jane Henson, Henson’s wife. ‘And now they get to greet old friends and meet new ones at the newly renovated and exciting National Museum of American History.’