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PERFORMER Jim Henson voice
  Frank Oz puppetry
DEBUT 1965
DESIGN Jim Henson designer
  Don Sahlin builder

Jim Henson's design for the La Choy Dragon.

Delbert rebuilt for exhibition.

Delbert the La Choy Dragon appeared in television commercials for La Choy chow mein from 1965 to 1967. In some commercials he was teamed with Mert, a meek, bespectacled Muppet spokesman.

Though originally built as a live-hand character, in 1966, he was rebuilt as a full-bodied character to engage with live actors in domestic settings.[1] The puppet was capable of emitting fire from its mouth, creating a unique effect in the commercial he appeared in.

Frank Oz, who puppeteered the La Choy Dragon to Jim Henson's voice, notably hated performing inside the full-body suit.[2] Caroll Spinney has noted the dragon as a precursor to Sesame Street’s Big Bird, including a 1984 interview with The Age[3] and his memoir The Wisdom of Big Bird.[4]

Although he's not named in commercials, Delbert refers to himself by name in a 1966 promotional film (advertising new commercials airing during The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.). His name has been documented elsewhere[5][6] and appeared on limited merchandise produced of the character, including an inflatable toy (pictured below) and a hand puppet.

A rebuilt version of Delbert has been seen in recent exhibits such as Jim Henson: Puppeteer. The 2010 comic book The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion makes a reference to the La Choy Dragon in the last panel, showing a giant Delbert in a chef's hat attacking a building as Skeeter prepares to stop him.

See also


  1. ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book entry, 10/25/1966
  2. ↑ Plume, Ken. FilmForce Interview. February 10, 2000.
  3. ↑ "Big Bird wings in with just one grouch: Oscar", The Age, March 15, 1984, page 40.
  4. ↑ Spinney, Caroll. The Wisdom of Big Bird. p. 38-39
  5. ↑ MuppetFest Q&A with Kirk Thatcher
  6. ↑ Archive