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.

With his numerous performances as Big Bird over the course of two decades, while Caroll Spinney was also continuing the character, Vogel holds the distinction of being one of very few Muppeteers who perform a character in conjunction with another performer. With Spinney's retirement in 2018, Vogel became Big Bird's primary performer. In addition, Vogel plays minor recurring characters such as Herb the dinosaur and Hansel (of Hansel and Gretel). He is currently the Sesame Street Muppet Captain and has been a series director since Season 39.

Vogel has also assumed some of Jerry Nelson's roles, by the recommendation of Nelson himself.[4] In addition to performing classic characters such as Floyd Pepper and Lew Zealand in Muppet productions, Vogel puppeteered Count von Count and other characters to Nelson's voice on Sesame Street. After Nelson's death in 2012, Vogel fully inherited the Count, providing both the voice and puppetry. Vogel 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 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,[5] but was delayed until August 28, 2017.


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 "Füsse," meaning "bird" and "feet," or read together "bird's feet."
  • Vogel is left-handed, but puppeteers with his right hand.[7]

See also


  1. Matt Vogel on Facebook September 10, 2015
  2. Tough Pigs "Interview: Sesame Street's Matt Vogel" by Ryan Roe, August 8, 2008
  3. Matt Vogel on Twitter Sept 20, 2018
  4. Tough Pigs "A Chat with Jerry Nelson" by Joe Hennes, December 8, 2009
  5. ToughPigs "Steve Whitmire No Longer with the Muppets" by Joe Hennes, July 10, 2017
  6. Ryan Dillon on Instagram
  7. @welcomemattv on Twitter July 29, 2016

External links

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