Protogrover
Santa and Gleep

Santa and Gleep on The Ed Sullivan Show.

0125 proto-Grover and Kermit

0125 proto-Grover and Kermit

Around-the-mall-muppets-7

The puppet on display in the Smithsonian.

Fuzzyface-Grover

proto-Grover and Grover onscreen together with other early monsters on The Ed Sullivan Show.

GroverMommy-1970

The proto-Grover puppet as Grover's mommy.

Rock and-Roll Monster and Fuzzyface

(Center) as one of the heads in the Rock and Roll Monster on Muppets on Puppets.

Grover is one of Sesame Street’s most famous Muppets, whose origins can be found before he became the self-professed "cute, furry, adorable" blue monster he would come to be known as. The pink-nosed puppet with cobalt blue fur would be definitively established in Episode 0131, the second season premiere in 1970. However, a similar-looking puppet with green-grey fur, a red nose, and malignantly-angled eyes, had been used in various Muppet productions from the 1960s up to several sketches in the first season of Sesame Street.

The dark puppet made its debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in December of 1967 as Gleep, one of several monsters who were described as a group of "thugs, crooks, and burglars". Frank Oz performed Gleep with a hard, nasally voice. The puppet would be used again as an ancillary character, performed by Oz and other puppeteers (Jim Henson and Caroll Spinney, for example) in The Muppets on Puppets (1968), Muppet Puppet Plays (1969), the Sesame Street Pitch Reel, and several first season Sesame Street sketches.

In addition to the puppet's gruffer appearance, he was most often performed with a raspier voice, as well as somewhat rougher mannerisms than the sweetness that would eventually develop in Grover.

Name

Due to the ambiguous nature of the character at that point, and a lack of video material available over the years, the "prototype" for Grover had been referred to unofficially by fans as "Fuzzyface". The name derives from a comment made by Kermit the Frog in a first season Sesame Street sketch as a smug remark about the unnamed monster because he literally had a fuzzy face. In the same sketch, Kermit calls him "the hairy one" in a similar fashion (the monster also refers to himself as such). In another sketch in which Kermit has the monster bring over nine blocks, Kermit refers to him using a number of different terms, including "the hairy monster", "the furry one", and "the fuzzy one". The term "fuzzy face" was also used by Herry Monster in reference to Cookie Monster during their version of "Up and Down", and by Floyd Pepper towards Animal in episode 222 of The Muppet Show.

The name "Grover" first started being used in scripts during 1970. Although the name is not heard in the final product, the script for the "First and Last" sketch in Episode 0116, taped on March 23, 1970,[1] referred to the character as Grover. The name was first heard spoken in a sketch for Episode 0125 taped in April 1970 where, not only is the dark-furred puppet addressed by Susan in an introduction, but his name serves as the driving narrative of a sketch with Kermit, and appears written out on-screen.

In his Red Book journal, Jim Henson logged in May of 1970 that he'd taped the "What Kind of Fool Am I?" segment for The Ed Sullivan Show with "Kermit and Grover" (notably using his name).[2] Unlike the Sesame Street sketch taped two months earlier using the dark-furred puppet, surviving footage of the Sullivan sketch reveals the first use of the blue Grover puppet with friendlier-angled eyes. His name is not used in dialogue, but this sketch also accounts for when Oz started using a slightly softer voice for the character.

Legacy

Despite the personality differences between the sketches from this era and the more established Grover, Sesame Workshop considers this green character to have actually been Grover. In its 35th anniversary board game, one trivia question reveals that Grover was originally green, suggesting that these characters are the same, albeit models of the evolution of the character. Additionally, sesamestreet.org used "Old Grover" as a tag in the "First and Last" sketch from the first season.

The proto-Grover puppet was also used for other characters once Grover proper was introduced. Most notably as Grover's Mommy in her earliest appearances before a dedicated puppet would be built for her, and the aforementioned Sullivan sketch where the two puppets appear together at the very end.

In 2013, the original proto-Grover puppet was donated to the Smithsonian Institute. During restoration of the puppet, Bonnie Erickson, executive director of The Jim Henson Legacy, referred to the puppet as "old Grover."[3]

Another example of a previously existing puppet being used for a character who would later be "properly" established with a redesigned puppet can be seen decades later when Spamela Hamderson was used for Denise in the presentation pilot produced to pitch the idea for The Muppets in 2015.

Sketches

Although he lacked the compassion Grover would eventually exhibit, some characteristics could be seen in the first season sketches, such as getting simple things wrong, being stomped on or exhausted, and slapping Kermit on the back. A number of sketches with this early "proto"-Grover were later remade with the more familiar blue Grover, including the "first and last" sketch, a sketch where Kermit has Grover count blocks, and the well-known "Near and Far" sketch.

Picture Theme / First Appearance Description
Song5-monsters
Five Song
Episode 0006
Appears with other monsters in the "Song of Five".
Proto-Grover as Billy Monster
Can You Guess?
Episode 0026
In his first named appearance on Sesame Street, the puppet is Billy Monster in the "Can You Guess?" game show.
Kermit'sradioBigV
Soft and Loud
Episode 0039
Kermit uses a radio to demonstrate "soft". (Proto)-Grover shows up and wants to talk about loud, turning the radio up. After the two demonstrate soft and loud a few times, Big V appears and eats the radio.
Kermit-earlyGrover-in
In
Episode 0056
Kermit talks about the word "in," and (proto)-Grover wants to help him teach. Kermit has a big box that he wants (proto)-Grover to get inside, but he can't seem to grasp the concept of IN ... he gets beside the box, on the box, and under the box. Finally, he reveals why he can't get in the box: because "Fred" is already inside it.
SSGroverOriginalNearandFar
Near and Far
Episode 0057
(Proto)-Grover demonstrates the difference between "near" and "far" by running away from the camera and back, eventually fainting from exhaustion. Jim Henson performs (proto)-Grover here.
Ernie barber 02
Ernie's Barber Shop
Episode 0068
Ernie tries to disguise Bert until his hair grows back, but proto-Grover mistakes Bert for his father.
Proto-G tramples boy
Forward and Backward
Episode 0069
An Anything Muppet boy teaches "forward" and "backward" with a group of Muppets (including proto-Grover) who keep running over the boy when his back is turned.
KermitFuzzyfacewithBlocks
Nine Blocks
Episode 0080
(Proto)-Grover helps Kermit count nine blocks, bringing back one block at a time from the block pile.
This sketch was reworked a few years later, with nine blocks being condensed to five.
Monsterslookata
Monsters Look at "A"
Episode 0083
Monsters, including (proto)-Grover, Flute-Snatcher, Cookie Monster, Beautiful Day Monster, and Scudge, are looking at something. Fred's son appears, and is reprimanded with "Eyy!" After a few times, Fred's son turns toward the viewer and yells "A!", revealing that the group is staring at the letter A. Caroll Spinney performs (proto)-Grover in this sketch.
10-Ams-monsters
Counting to 10
Episode 0084
Some Anything Muppets and monsters (including Cookie Monster, (proto)-Grover, Beautiful Day Monster, Scudge, and Fred's son) pile up and count to 10.
0573e
Monsters Whisper "C"
Episode 0089
Monsters, including (proto)-Grover, Cookie Monster, and Beautiful Day Monster, pass on the message, "See." The wide shot reveals that the monsters were whispering about the Letter C. Caroll Spinney performs Cookie Monster here.
ProfHastingsFeelings
Emotions
Episode 0106
Professor Hastings conducts a lecture about the ways people feel, but keeps drifting off. Meanwhile, two groups of Muppets behind him pass by; one cheering for their winning team, and the others crying for the losing team. (proto)- Grover is among those in the losing team.
Firstandlast
First and Last
Episode 0116
A group of Monsters, led by a hippie, play a game where they march in a line and then switch direction. (Proto)-Grover wants to be first and not last, but can't keep up with the ever-switching directions. This sketch was later remade, with the blue version of (proto)-Grover and with the monsters being replaced.
G for Grover
G for Grover
Episode 0125
Grover, referred to here by name for the first time, insists on seeing his name written out with a capital G.

Sources

  1. documents acquired from a trusted source by User:Scarecroe
  2. 5/4/1970 – ‘VTR Sullivan “What kind of Fool am I”- Kermit and Grover’
  3. The Smithsonian Institute: Jim Henson's puppets, reunited in our conservation lab. September 24, 2013.

See also

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