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Clifford
PERFORMER Kevin Clash
DEBUT 1989
DESIGN Kirk Thatcher designer
  Tim Miller builder
Cliffordglamourshot

Clifford as he appeared during his Muppets Tonight days.

Clifford-Photo
MuppetsTonight-PiggyKermitClifford
MuppetSports-Clifford-Biking
Oz 21 360x240

Clifford in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.

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Clifford no glasses

Clifford is the hip Muppet who first appeared in 1989 on The Jim Henson Hour before being selected to host Muppets Tonight in 1996. He is often seen wearing sunglasses, and his multi-colored dreadlocks give his appearance a Rastafarian feel. Although his facial features, particularly his lips and mustache, are somewhat reminiscent of a catfish, as Kermit the Frog pointed out in episode 102 of Muppets Tonight, Clifford is a humanoid Muppet, much in the same vein as Scooter.

The Jim Henson Hour and early appearances[]

On The Jim Henson Hour, Clifford was the bass player for the band Solid Foam. With the main exception of Digit, he was seen at Muppet Central more than any other member of the band. One of his more notable appearances outside of the band was in episode 102, where he told a story about evolution and the environment. His next major appearance after The Jim Henson Hour ended was in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, where he joined the Electric Mayhem as an auxiliary percussionist.

Clifford once appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show alongside Kermit the Frog to promote the special. In this appearance, he revealed that he doesn't have a last name and that he enjoys being spanked. When asked by Arsenio Hall on why he joined the Muppets, Clifford stated it was either join them or Milli Vanilli.

He also appeared on two albums of original material in the early 1990s, Muppet Beach Party (performing in several songs) and Kermit Unpigged (performing "On Broadway" with George Benson).

In the Muppets Inside CD-ROM game, Clifford hosted a Name That Tune-style game show called Scope That Song. Here, he is referred to as "The Newest Muppet."

Muppets Tonight[]

Although he appeared in several smaller productions in the years that followed, Clifford's most prominent role to date was hosting Muppets Tonight. Whereas in his previous appearances, he had been depicted as a laid-back character, the pressures of hosting the show often caused him to lose his cool, such as in the premiere episode where he was cast as the host and told to immediately go on camera without any preparation whatsoever.

When asked how the decision was made not to have Kermit as host of Muppets Tonight, Kevin Clash explained: "I dunno if we talked about it early, early on... I remember [Jim Henson] had something to do with it.... I think there was rumbles of what the next type of format of The Muppet Show might be. And I know I got the rumblings from him not really thinking Kermit would be the lead... Kermit would run the network, you know... Then again, when he passed away, they just kept that, and Clifford became the host."[1]

In episode 101, Kermit hired Clifford to host the show because he was the only one not to run out of the office when Kermit asks the other Muppets who would like to host the show (Clifford was busy talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone). In addition to hosting, Clifford appeared in the recurring UK segments Fairyland PD and Real World Muppets.

For the series, a new Clifford puppet was utilized, with minor changes to his nose and upper lip. Most notably, he was seen with traditional Muppet eyes for the first time, with a mechanism that allowed his eyelids to open and close all the way. During the run of the series, the only times he appeared in his signature shades were the "Real World Muppets" segments and the finale of episode 205. At MuppetFest in 2001, Kevin Clash revealed that he preferred Clifford with his sunglasses.[2] In a later interview, Clash said further that he would refuse to reprise Clifford if his glasses were removed again.[1]

Some of the more notable episodes involving Clifford include episode 206, in which he constantly tried to get a kiss from Paula Abdul, and episode 207, in which Dennis Quaid seemed to take over from Clifford.

Later appearances[]

After Muppets Tonight ended, Clifford returned in two of the Muppet movies, reverting back to his original sunglasses-look and persona from The Jim Henson Hour. He had a fairly large role in Muppets from Space where he earned his title as the Muppet Boarding House's expert on all things cool. He later appeared in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz as the bouncer for the Poppyfields nightclub.

Clifford action figure

Clifford action figure

In 2003, a Clifford Action Figure was released in Series 6 of the Palisades Toys line of Muppet action figures, modeled after the character's look in Muppets Tonight. In addition to this, a ceramic Clifford figurine was produced in France, as part of a series of Muppet fèves. To date, these are the only examples of Clifford merchandise produced.

In a promotion for the United Kingdom premiere of The Muppets, Kermit answered questions on Twitter under the hashtag #askkermit. When asked what happened to Clifford, Kermit tweeted, "He went back to his roots as a bass guitarist and supplements his income as a male model."[3]

Filmography[]

Book appearances[]

Sources[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tough Pigs video interview with Kevin Clash, November 1, 2011 (YouTube) 9:39.
  2. Clash, Kevin. Muppet Q&A Panel at MuppetFest. MuppetFest Memories.
  3. Twitter post dated January 16, 2012
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