|PERFORMER||Frank Oz 1975-2000|
|Eric Jacobson 2005-present|
|DESIGN||Jim Henson designer|
|Don Sahlin builder|
Sam the Eagle is an American eagle who feels his species and role as national symbol have placed certain responsibilities upon his shoulders. He has taken it upon himself to promote and protect wholesome American morals and values, and he works behind the scenes of The Muppet Show as self-appointed censor and advocate of cultural, educational acts such as Wayne and Wanda.
Sam is appalled by the nonsense that passes for entertainment on the series and does his best to keep things in check, even though his pleas for an end to madness are usually ignored. As noted in the first issue of The Muppet Show Fan Club newsletter, Sam's overpowering burden is to act as the "moral center" of The Muppet Show. He would, in fact, like to concern himself with the morals of the entire world, but "regrets that it takes all his time and energy just to keep up with The Muppet Show."
Sam first appeared in the 1975 pilot The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence and in the first batch of Muppet Meeting Films. In Sex and Violence, Sam works with Nigel in the control room; he spends his time playing solitaire by himself or checkers with Nigel and otherwise attempts to keep things running smoothly. He is frequently confused by Floyd's hip lingo, which he takes literally, and is dubious about the proposed "Seven Deadly Sins" pageant. Otherwise, his relationship with host Nigel is more amicable than it would be with Kermit on The Muppet Show proper.
In the Muppet Meeting films, Sam joins Kermit, an early Janice, and P. Fenton Cosgrove on a company panel. In "The Muppet Introduction," he resents the fact that he is asked to introduce Kermit, convinced that it is undignified for an American eagle to introduce a frog. In "Just a Few Announcements," he frets over his spelling, since the American eagle must not misspell words, and is appalled when Kermit jokingly asks him to join him in the Boom Boom Room as an honorary frog (offering to paint him green and lend him flippers).
Muppet Show Censor
Throughout the first season of The Muppet Show, Sam provides the introductions for Wayne and Wanda, an act that he considers the apex of good, clean entertainment, which inevitably ends in disaster. He also introduces a lecture by Fozzie Bear and Peter Ustinov in episode 112, and he frequently participates in the Panel Discussion sketches. Beginning in the second season, Sam would occasionally deliver editorials on the state of the country and the world, lashing out against "weirdos" and "namby-pamby conservationists." Anecdotically, in episode 205, after a Pigs in Space episode, he announces he dissociates himself of the show. Most notably, in episode 206, he rails against nudity, only to suddenly become aware that he himself is naked beneath his feathers; Sam hastily leaves the stage, in some embarrassment. Otherwise, Sam seldom performs onstage (though he frequently barges on to complain), unless convinced that the act is "cultural"; he is reluctantly persuaded to recite the lines of the dicky-bird in "Tit Willow" (episode 120).
Sam occasionally becomes acutely aware of how futile his efforts are, and threatens to resign in disgust. He does so in episode 205, joining Statler and Waldorf in the balcony. He sees the pair as kindred spirits, due to their dislike for the show, and their obvious age and respectability. He loses his temper when the two old codgers mock his ruined narration of "The Ant and the Grasshopper" in episode 212, but he heartily approves of their performance of "The Varsity Drag" in episode 208, referring to it as a brief moment of light at the end of the tunnel, just before Marvin Suggs and his All Food Glee Club perform "Yes, We Have No Bananas".
Sam's opinion about the guests stars is variable: he's thrilled at the coming of Rudolf Nureyev (before he sees Rudolf at work with the Muppets), and he claims his admiration for Lou Rawls, but he clearly disapproves of Liberace, Elton John, Spike Milligan, and, foreseeably, Alice Cooper. In episode 119, without mentioning namely Vincent Price, he complains against the horror-themed show and "the weird, unnatural things going on tonight". A funny thing is that he seems to think highly of Zero Mostel in episode 202, without even realizing the fooleries and menacing gestures that Zero makes behind him.
In addition to his moral concerns, Sam considers himself the arbiter of taste and sole judge of culturally enriching acts and performers. His actual knowledge is incredibly limited, however. In episode 213, he praises guest star Rudolf Nureyev as his favorite opera singer. When informed that Nureyev is a ballet dancer, Sam shrugs, and notes that "culture is culture"; he subsequently fails to recognize Nureyev in street clothes, and has him thrown out. Similarly, in episode 312, he nearly walks out yet again, until Rowlf tells him that he will miss the dog's salute to Beethoven ("Eight Little Notes"). Sam eagerly announces that he will stay for Beethoven, his favorite playwright. He shows also naivety in the UK Spot of episode 315, when Dr. Teeth persuades him that Mack the Knife is a lovely slang song.
Despite his aversion for the Muppet Show, Sam joins, from the second season, the chorus of Muppets who sings the opening theme praising the show. In the first season, he sometimes appears in the background of the audience.
Family and Background
When Kermit the Frog questions Sam's obsession with "decent family entertainment" in the UK spot of episode 422, Sam inadvertently reveals the facts of his somewhat tragic home life. He was married, but he cannot remember his wife's name, and they are separated; she flew the coop (later, Henson.com's Featured Creature bio confirmed that they subsequently divorced). In a 2011 interview on SiriusXM, Sam revealed his ex-wife's name was Eunice and his two children are in college, though neither writes to him. To Sam's disgust, his son is studying taxidermy and his daughter is dating an owl. He would rather not talk about any of this.
Sam remained active beyond The Muppet Show, appearing in every Muppet movie to date. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Sam played the role of young Scrooge's teacher, who commends young Scrooge on his graduation and saying he has secured an apprenticeship with Fozziwig, saying business is the American way. Gonzo, as Charles Dickens, corrects Sam that the story is set in England, to which Sam in like stateliness says "it is the British way".
Sam is the only Muppet character that made a crossover appearance on The Animal Show, serving as a special guest in the episode "Bald Eagle" where Jake the Polar Bear invited him to talk about eagles. Sam was disgusted on how eagles were in the wild and left. Later on in the show after Armstrong the Chicken Hawk stormed off when he was scheduled to sing about eagles, Sam the Eagle returned telling Stinky and Jake that he does not have enough money to get his car out of the parking garage. Jake says that they will take care of it if he sings a song. Sam the Eagle sings the song "I'm an Eagle" in front of some of the background animals. Armstrong comes in during the song stating that eagles have been upstaging him and Sam states that he will mention how good chicken hawks are in his song which he does.
Concerned about his thinning feathers -- he is a bald eagle, after all -- Sam eventually started using Propecia. In the 2002 TV-movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Sam has a newly-grown crop of feathers on his head due to overuse of Propecia.
Sam briefly appears in the December 2008 special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, to deliver a public service announcement stating that reading other people's mail is a federal offense, discouraging Fozzie from reading the letters that were addressed to Santa Claus.
Sam appears in the 2011 Muppet movie, The Muppets, first seen as a reporter for WGF News after the Muppets broke up (before being dragged into the group's car with a cane during the montage scene), and later volunteering to take donation calls for The Muppet Telethon. He was also one of the members of the Muppet Barbershop Quartet performing Smells Like Teen Spirit.
In Muppets Most Wanted, Sam plays a substantial role as a CIA agent, assigned to stop an elaborate crime spree by Constantine and Dominic Badguy (working somewhat grudgingly at first with Interpol operative Jean Pierre Napoleon).
- An early screenplay draft for The Great Muppet Caper gave Sam the role of hotel detective for the Happiness Hotel, though this was not used in the final film.
- Frank Oz - from The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975) to Muppet RaceMania (2000)
- Eric Jacobson - The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) to present
- Kevin Clash - It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), Muppets Party Cruise (2003) (voice only)
- John Kennedy - It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) (puppetry only)
- Drew Massey - Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony Episodes 11, 15, 18 and 33 (2005-2006)
- The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence
- Muppet Meeting Films
- "The Muppet Introduction"
- "Just a Few Announcements"
- The Muppet Show
- "The Muppet Show Theme" (Seasons 2-5)
- Episode 103: Joel Grey
- Episode 104: Ruth Buzzi
- Episode 105: Rita Moreno
- Episode 106: Jim Nabors
- Episode 108: Paul Williams
- Episode 109: Charles Aznavour
- Episode 110: Harvey Korman
- Episode 112: Peter Ustinov
- Episode 113: Bruce Forsyth
- Episode 114: Sandy Duncan
- Episode 115: Candice Bergen
- Episode 116: Avery Schreiber
- Episode 117: Ben Vereen
- Episode 119: Vincent Price
- Episode 120: Valerie Harper
- Episode 121: Twiggy
- Episode 124: Mummenschanz
- Episode 202: Zero Mostel
- Episode 205: Judy Collins
- Episode 206: Nancy Walker
- Episode 208: Steve Martin
- Episode 209: Madeline Kahn
- Episode 212: Bernadette Peters
- Episode 213: Rudolf Nureyev
- Episode 214: Elton John
- Episode 215: Lou Rawls
- Episode 217: Julie Andrews
- Episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan
- Episode 301: Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
- Episode 306: Jean Stapleton
- Episode 307: Alice Cooper
- Episode 308: Loretta Lynn
- Episode 309: Liberace
- Episode 312: James Coco
- Episode 315: Lesley Ann Warren
- Episode 317: Spike Milligan
- Episode 320: Sylvester Stallone
- Episode 323: Lynn Redgrave
- Episode 406: Linda Lavin
- Episode 409: Beverly Sills
- Episode 412: Phyllis George
- Episode 418: Christopher Reeve
- Episode 419: Lynda Carter
- Episode 422: Andy Williams
- Episode 518: Marty Feldman
- Episode 519: Chris Langham
- The Muppet Movie
- The Great Muppet Caper
- The Muppets Go to the Movies
- I Love Liberty
- The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show
- The Muppets Take Manhattan
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
- A Muppet Family Christmas
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Muppet Treasure Island
- Muppets Tonight
- The Animal Show
- Muppets from Space
- MasterCard commercial
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
- The Muppets Wizard of Oz
- Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony
- episode 11
- episode 15
- episode 18
- episode 33
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
- D23 Expo (2009)
- Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. commercials
- Muppet viral videos
- The Muppet Show Theme Music Video
- The Muppets
- Dancing with the Stars
- The Case of the Stolen Show
- Just for Laughs
- "All I Need is Love"
- Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular
- Muppets Most Wanted
- Muppet Moments
- The Muppets 2015 Presentation Pilot
- The Muppets
- The Muppets Take the Bowl
- The Muppets Take the O2
- The Late Late Show with James Corden
- Muppets Now
- The Muppet Show Book (1978)
- Robin Hood (1980)
- Two for the Show
- The Muppet Guide to Magnificent Manners
- Muppet Time (1996)
- The Muppet Show Comic Book (2009-2012)
- Muppet Robin Hood (2009)
- The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson (2009)
- Muppet Peter Pan (2009)
- Muppet Snow White (2010)
- Muppet Sherlock Holmes (2010)
- The Twelve Days of a Muppet Christmas (and a Chicken in a Pine Tree) (2012)
- The Muppets Character Encyclopedia (2014)
- Muppets Meet the Classics: The Phantom of the Opera (2017)
Video game appearances
- The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside
- Jim Henson's Muppets
- Muppet RaceMania
- Spy Muppets: License to Croak
- Muppets Party Cruise
- My Muppets Show
- Schleich PVC
- Sam Arrow Action Figure
- Mini Sam the Eagle PVC
- Sam the Eagle bust
- Ghost of Sam Arrow Action Figure
- Sam the Eagle Action Figure
- 25th anniversary happy meal plush
- Muppet*Vision 3D Sam plush
- 9" Vinylmation figure
- Sam Arrow Vinylmation figure
- The Muppet Show Fan Club News. "Performer Profile: Frank Oz." Vol. 1, No. 1.