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Kermit, abstract

Kermit log

Kermit the Frog


Kermit (abstract) and Kermit (The Frog).

In the early days of the Muppets, the character Kermit was not a frog. He was introduced in 1955 with roundish feet instead of flippers and no collar. As Jim Henson described: "all the characters in those days were abstract"; Kermit was simply a lizard-like creature, and was not a specific species.

Kermit didn't truly become a frog until the late 1960s. However, the process was a gradual one, and the exact moment of the transformation has been unclear. Whereas most official sources (including interviews with Jim Henson himself) list the 1971 TV special The Frog Prince, research shows it happened earlier.


  • 1959: A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor describes Kermit as "frog-faced".[1]
  • 1960: In the September 13, 1960 episode of Sam and Friends, Kermit announces the incidental Olympic events from which the cast took home medals. Kermit himself won in the hundred-meter leapfrog event. He does not acknowledge being a frog himself, but claims to have many friends who are frogs.[2] In the December 7, 1960 episode, a large bird mistakes Kermit for a frog (and Harry the Hipster for a worm) and carries them off.[3]
  • 1965: Kermit makes a cameo as a frog in the pilot for a proposed Cinderella TV series, recorded in October. The Muppets appear on The Tonight Show in December; Johnny Carson refers to the character as "Kermit the Frog."

Even after Kermit's frogification, he was mistaken for a lizard by Neville in The Great Muppet Caper, addressed as a lizard by Ma Bear twice in A Muppet Family Christmas, and by Bunsen in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.

Appearances of the Frog Prince rumor[]

Jim Henson: The Works, mentions that Kermit first gained froghood for The Frog Prince. Jim Henson himself even said so in a 1982 interview:[5]

Jim Henson: ...back in those days you may have read somewhere, but I didn't call him a frog.
Judy Harris: Right, he was just Kermit the thing.
Jim Henson: Yeah, all the characters in those days were abstract because that was part of the principle that I was working under, that you wanted abstract things.
Judy Harris: He didn't turn into a frog until you did The Frog Prince for a TV special.
Jim Henson: Yeah, that's right.
Judy Harris: That was the first time he got flippers and his little pointed collar?
Jim Henson: Right.

Jim Henson (and Kermit) again reinforced the notion on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee in 1990.

Jim Henson: When [Kermit] was first made he was, all my characters were abstract, he wasn't really a frog. He was a lizard-like character. But he became a frog when we did a show called The Frog Prince.
Regis Philbin: Oh, I see. Yeah. And he stuck right away? He hit?
Kermit: Ah, yes. Once a frog, I just stayed a frog thereafter.

In one Ask response, Henson Archivist Karen Falk provided the following quote on the issue made by Jim Henson in 1985:

When I started doing this little local television show, Kermit was more a lizard-like character. We frogafied him over a couple of television specials we did years ago, before Sesame Street. So he just slowly became a frog. I don't think there was a conscious move to do that...

He's very primitive as a puppet goes because he's really like a glorified sock puppet. But he changed a little bit - a few years after I first made him because when I first made him, he was - all my characters in those days were abstract. And he was sort of a lizard-like character. And then after a few years, we changed and made more of a frog-like body for him and gave him flippers for feet. And that was for a special we did called The Frog Prince that he became more of a frog.

See also[]


  1. Christian Science Monitor "Muppets Win Way" by Ursula Keller, Dec 15, 1959 via Jim Henson's Red Book 2/-/1955 – ‘Began working together. [Jane’]
  2. Sam and Friends: The Story of Jim Henson's First Television Show page 462
  3. Sam and Friends: The Story of Jim Henson's First Television Show page 478
  4. Jim Henson's Red Book 7/23/1968 – ‘Mike Douglas Show – “Sort of Cinderella”.’
  5. Jim Henson interview, Judy Harris. Interview conducted on September 21, 1982, and published on Harris' website.