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Matt Vogel performing Baby Big Bird.


Vogel with Big Bird.

Matt Vogel 1970s Muppet puppet toys

A young Vogel (left) and his brother with Rowlf and Kermit toy puppets.


Vogel and Caroll Spinney.


At 2014 Sunday Times photo shoot.

Matt Vogel and Jerry Nelson

Vogel and Jerry Nelson.

D23 2015 Matt Vogel Floyd

Vogel with Floyd.


Vogel with Uncle Deadly.

Matt Vogel Sesame director

Directing on the set of Sesame Street.

Matt Vogel (b. October 6, 1970) is an accomplished puppeteer who joined the Sesame Street troupe in 1996. He later joined The Muppets family of characters, inheriting several roles while working with Jerry Nelson, and was cast as Kermit the Frog in 2017.

Vogel first auditioned for The Jim Henson Company in his final year of college (c. 1993), but didn't begin performing with the company until a year later when he became John Henson's understudy for the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.[1][2]

On Sesame Street, Vogel started out as most Muppeteers do, right-handing for other characters; in his case, for David Rudman on Baby Bear.[3] He eventually became Caroll Spinney's understudy for Big Bird, performing in the role whenever Spinney was unavailable. Beginning in 2002, he exclusively performed Big Bird for "Journey to Ernie", a regular Sesame Street segment. He also played Big Bird's infant self Baby Big Bird in the Sesame Beginnings DVD series.

Vogel performed Big Bird at various times for over two decades while Caroll Spinney was also continuing the character, making him one of the few Muppeteers to play a character in conjunction with another performer. With Spinney's retirement in 2018, he officially became Big Bird's primary performer. Vogel has also played minor recurring characters on Sesame Street, such as Herb the dinosaur, and Hansel (of Hansel and Gretel), as well as various one-shot Anything Muppets. Vogel became the show's Muppet Captain in Season 44, after several years of serving as Assistant Muppet Captain to Kevin Clash.[4][5] Additionally, he has been a director since Season 39.

Vogel has also assumed many of Jerry Nelson's roles, by the recommendation of Nelson himself.[6] Since 2008, he has been the performer of most of Nelson's main Muppet Show characters, including Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, and perhaps most prominently, Uncle Deadly. For a period on Sesame Street, Vogel puppeteered Count von Count and other characters while Nelson continued to voice them. After Nelson's death in 2012, Vogel fully inherited the Count, now providing both the voice and puppetry. He also performs Mr. Johnson, another character Nelson originated.

His early Muppet credits include assisting or supporting roles on Big Bag, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Sesame English. Work outside the Henson fold include the video series MATHmatazz, Jack's Big Music Show, The Puzzle Place, the HBO drama Oz (as Pecky in the TV clips of Miss Sally's Schoolyard), Oobi, Blue's Room, and Between the Lions, as well as puppeteering Fred in the video project Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map. On the big screen, Vogel has appeared in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted (where he took on the major role of Constantine), the Creature Shop film The Producers (as various pigeons), one of the "Muppet" characters in Old Dogs, and the voice of Wilkins in Alice Through the Looking Glass for director James Bobin.

In theater, Vogel has acted in regional productions of various plays, including The Foreigner and Six Degrees of Sparation, and was involved in the 2003-2004 Broadway run of Little Shop of Horrors, manipulating Audrey II and playing various bums and Skid Row residents (alongside Martin P. Robinson and Anthony Asbury).

In addition to puppeteering, Vogel's interest in music is evident as front man for The Mighty Weaklings. The band released a CD of songs "for kids--and grown-ups" called You Can't Rock Sittin' Down in June of 2008 after appearing in the video for their song "Rocket Ship" on Jack's Big Music Show. With Joey Mazzarino, Vogel co-owns Pratfall Productions, which produced the film-noir puppet short film Murder, He Squeaked as well as various videos and inserts for Sesame Street, and Nick Jr.'s Curious Buddies.

On July 10, 2017, it was announced that Vogel had been cast as the new performer of Kermit the Frog, following Steve Whitmire's departure from The Muppets. Vogel's first public performance as Kermit was a Muppet Thought of the Week video; originally planned to debut on YouTube during the week of July 17, 2017,[7] but was delayed until August 28, 2017.

Performing credits[]

for a complete character gallery, see Matt Vogel characters

Sesame Street[]

Characters: Big Bird (since 1997), Count von Count (since 2013), Mr. Johnson (since 2014), and others...

The Muppets[]

Characters: Kermit the Frog (since 2017), Uncle Deadly (since 2011), and others...


Directing credits[]


  • When Matt Vogel was introduced to Spinney at his first audition for the part of Big Bird, the latter remarked, "Vogel is German for Bird. That's a good sign." The word "vogel" is Dutch for bird as well.
  • The protective slippers Vogel wears over Big Bird's feet when he's not on set are labeled, respectively, "Vogel" and "FΓΌsse," meaning "bird" and "feet," or read together "bird's feet."
  • Vogel is left-handed, but puppeteers with his right hand.[12]
  • Vogel's children have occasionally participated in their father's performances. Jack Vogel assisted his father for various productions. One of his other sons, Hunter, participated in an unaired Muppet & Kid moment with Grover in 2005.[13]

See also[]


External links[]