Marionettes are puppets controlled by strings. Strings have been used to move puppets of different styles, shapes, and levels of complexity. Though there's no telling when the first string puppet was used, in the western world, they originated from the medieval times in France, where the term "marionette" originates, and can be found in every country in the world.
Frank Oz's puppetry experience started by performing marionettes with his family.
One of the most famous marionettists of our time is Bil Baird.
Below is a list of the use of marionettes in Henson/Muppet productions:
- A dancing roast chicken.
- A dancing skeleton.
- Marionettes are demonstrated.
- Rufus runs alongside Cinderella into the garden in a wide shot.
- "Song of Eight" - a boy shows 8 marionette puppets.
- "Octopus' Garden" - a marionette octopus is shown swimming in the background throughout this version of the song.
- Little Bird - flying in "Song of One," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," Episode 0396, "Do-Op Hop"
- Hoots the Owl gets into a musician duel with Wynton Marsalis, who echoes back jazz rhythms he can play. The segment concludes cutting to a marionette Hoots flying away playing his saxophone, which Wynton concedes never learning in music school. (First: Episode 2205)
- "Windy" - Beautiful Day Monster as the titular character flying.
- Natalie the Cow - in a Sesame Street News Flash sketch based on Hey Diddle Diddle, Natalie blasts off as the cow who jumped over the moon.
- Jack Be Nimble jumps over the candlestick, in a wide shot, during a Sesame Street News Flash sketch.
- Slimey - tap dancing in Episode 2029
- Frogs hopping during the Frogs number.
- Leroy full body marionette for wide shots.
- T.R. and the chickens fly around.
- Rover Joe is seen briefly as a marionette when they meet Catgut.
- Catgut dances with the rats.
- All appear as marionettes in certain shots of the travelling scenes, and again when they stake out the farm house.
- Kermit rides his bicycle.
- Ducks on the river.
- Emmet and Alice Otter walk through Waterville.
- Wendell Porcupine walks to Emmet's house.
- Emmet and Wendell walk to Old Lady Possum's house.
- Emmet and his mother go down Pa's slide.
- Ice skaters.
- Shirley and Nat Muskrat dance as "Carrots the Dancing Horse"
- Emmet, Alice, Wendell, Charlie and Harvey head home from the contest.
- Near the end of the first season's opening, character arms are controlled by strings.
- Episode 208: Yolanda dancing.
- Episode 317: "Aquarela do Brasil": A Scotsman's bagpipes play on their own.
- Kermit rides his bicycle.
- "Couldn't We Ride" bicycle sequence.
- Chickens fly up the outside of the Mallory Gallery.
- Parachuting Muppets in the "Hey a Movie!" reprise.
- The Mystics gather for the funeral of UrSu, the Master.
- General marionette assists on full-bodied puppet characters.
- Episode 112: The Finger of Light: Uncle Traveling Matt encounters a marionette, and is then turned into one.
- Episode 121: Gobo's Discovery: Uncle Matt's legs flail around while his face is being shaved.
- Episode 124: New Trash Heap in Town: The Flying Batworm flies around Mokey and crashes.
- Episode 224: The Invasion of the Toe Ticklers: The Purple Sproingers.
- Episode 306: Pebble Pox Blues on Die Fraggles: German postcard showing Uncle Traveling Matt riding a bike.
- Sir Didymus appears in a few shots as a marionette.
- Flying bird-like goblins characters.
- Marionette assists on certain costumed characters.
- Behind the Scenes footage from Inside the Labyrinth shows some of the Fireys being performed as marionettes.
- Marionettes used in production.
- A marionette of Rugby Tiger was used for the scene where he sneaks down the hall toward the stairs.
- Kermit riding a bicycle.
- Gonzo's arms and legs after he has been stretched out.
- A brief shot of the lab rats as they make their way through the air vent.
Marionettes Existing Within Muppet Productions
- Building string puppets is taught in the book The Muppets Make Puppets!.