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Jim Henson Richard Nixon.jpg

Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 until his resignation in 1974, following the Watergate scandal. Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

Notable events during Nixon's presidency included continued escalation and the ultimate end of the Vietnam War, a 1972 trip to China which opened diplomatic relations with the US, the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the debut of a children's show known as Sesame Street.

In 1959, during the Emmy Awards (which were held at Washington, D.C.), guest of honor Nixon (then Vice President to Dwight D. Eisenhower) met with Jim Henson, winner of the Emmy for Best Local Entertainment.[1] According to Jane Henson, Nixon's only comment of note was "I knew someone in the Navy with a beard."[2]

In a letter dated January 28, 1970, President Nixon wrote to Joan Ganz Cooney to praise Sesame Street:[3]

β€œThe many children and families now benefiting from Sesame Street are participants in one of the most promising experiments in the history of that medium. The Children's Television Workshop certainly deserves the high praise it has been getting from young and old alike in every corner of the nation. This administration is enthusiastically committed to opening up opportunities for every youngster, particularly during his first five years of life, and is pleased to be among the sponsors of your distinguished program.
Richard Nixon”

Members of Nixon's cabinet and staff included Vice-President Gerald Ford (1973-1974), Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1973-1977), and speechwriters Ben Stein and David Gergen. His infamous "enemies list" included Paul Newman in the original 20-name memo, while the expanded master list named Carol Channing, Shirley Chisholm, Bill Cosby, Jane Fonda, John Lennon, Joe Namath, Gregory Peck, Tony Randall, and Barbra Streisand. Even the name "Lloyd N. Morrisett" (that of one of the founders of the Children's Television Workshop and chairman from 1968 through 2000) appeared, although why the name was there, and whether it referred to Morrisett or his namesake father (an educator), remained a puzzle to Morrisett.[4]



  • In episode 204 of The Muppet Show, Mildred asks Rich Little if anyone has objected to his impersonation of them. Little answers as Nixon, complete with blustering, jowly cheeks, to claim that to the best of his knowledge, nobody has.
  • As Sam the Eagle delivers an editorial on ecology in episode 217 of The Muppet Show, he discovers he himself is on the endangered species list. He slinks off and declares the list "inoperative," a term derived straight from Nixon's Press Secretary, Ronald Zeigler, during the Watergate scandal.[5]
  • When Piggy appeared on The Rosie O'Donnell Show in 1996, she took over hosting duties from a reluctant Rosie O'Donnell. At the end of the second segment, Piggy is insulted that she's not getting a gift for appearing on the show. As O'Donnell attempts to announce her next guest, Piggy interjects, "you won't have Miss Piggy to kick around anymore." This is a paraphrasing of a famous quote from Nixon's press conference after losing the election for Governor of California in November 1962.
  • One of Nixon's trademarks was his use of the "V" hand gesture, to signal victory and often in defiance, even when he left office. This gesture has since been mimicked by many fictional political candidates, whether directly impersonating Nixon or not, including those in the Muppet realm.


  1. ↑ 5/6/1959 – β€˜Local Academy TV Arts & Sciences Wash. DC – Best Local Entertainment Program 1958.’ Jim Henson's Red Book. May 06, 2012
  2. ↑ Hensoncompany Twitter comment. May 23, 2012.
  3. ↑ Davis, Michael. Street Gang. p. 198-199
  4. ↑ Mitgang, Lee D. Big Bird and Beyond: The New Media and the Markle Foundation. p. 33. Fordham University Press, 2003.
  5. ↑ Bailey, Joseph, Memoirs of a Muppets Writer, page 175 - "The only time in my writing career I ever got to quote Richard Nixon's Watergate Press Secretary, Ronald Zeigler."
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