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DEBUT 1963

The original Rufus puppet in The Land of Tinkerdee


Rufus and Mia Farrow, in The Muppets Valentine Show

for other uses, see Rufus (disambiguation)

Rufus is a fluffy white dog, originally built in September 1963[1] for the TV special, Tall Tales, starring alongside Jack Gilford. It is suggested that he was named after Rufus Rose of The Howdy Doody Show.[2]

Rufus would go on to feature in the unsold pilot for The Land of Tinkerdee, which was filmed August 9 of the next year. In that pilot, Rufus was the watchdog and best friend of Darryl, a human who worked as the gatekeeper of Tinkerdee. Rufus was good-natured and helpful, although clumsy. He was performed here by Jim Henson. The Land of Tinkerdee wasn't picked up, and Rufus was denied his chance at stardom. He is referred to by Darryl as a sheepdog, but Rufus counters that he has not only never seen a sheep, but he's afraid of them.

Rufus next appeared in the 1965 pilot for a Cinderella series, as Cinderella's pet dog. In the pilot and for further appearances, Rufus doesn't speak; he communicates through gestures and barks. He would play the same role again for the special, Hey Cinderella!. Rufus then appeared in three episodes of the first season of Sesame Street (44, 84, and 90); in the audio commentary for I Am Big Bird, Caroll Spinney refers to him as "Flash the Wonder Dog."

Rufus was part of the main cast in The Muppets Valentine Show in 1974, interacting with guest star Mia Farrow. That same year, Rufus appeared alongside Brewster in Herb Alpert and the TJB. In mime, he requested his favorite song to Herb: "Spanish Flea." In one of his last prominent appearances, he appears in the 1985 home video Country Music with the Muppets, miming a request for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with a cassette tape in in his mouth; he utters an audible "Thank you" when his request is fulfilled.

In 1976, another fluffy white dog puppet was created for The Muppet Show -- J.P. Grosse's dog, Muppy. Muppy had more realistic features than Rufus did, so that he could be switched to a real dog in long shots.

Both Rufus and Muppy can be spotted in The Muppets Take Manhattan (in the scene with Rowlf at the dog shelter and in the wedding sequence) and in The Muppets at Walt Disney World (during the musical number, "I'm Doggin' It").



  1. ↑ Falk, Karen. Jim Henson's Red Book, 9/–/1963 – 'Build Rufus.'
  2. ↑ Karen Falk at "A Henson Valentine" at the Museum of the Moving Image, February 10, 2024