PERFORMER Jerry Nelson
DEBUT 1978

William Tell (or in the four languages of Switzerland: Wilhelm Tell in German, Guillaume Tell in French, Guglielmo Tell in Italian, and Guglielm Tell in Romansh) was a legendary figure from Switzerland, who was renowned for his ability with a crossbow. The most famous portion of his story derives from a moment in which he failed to show respect to the newly appointed protector of a village. Insulted, the Vogt punished him by forcing him to shoot an apple off the head of his son, Walter, or else they would both face execution.

On The Muppet Show the father and son team appear in episode 307 to perform their act. Here, William Tell is a jittery, elderly man; it makes him nervous when Kermit shouts. While the pair is onstage, several arrows make their way backstage to where Alice Cooper is trying to get Kermit to sell his soul, suggesting that Tell has lost his edge. While Alice seems unfazed by the stray arrows, Kermit and Flower-Eating Monster take the threat more seriously. One arrow, defying precision, tacks the satanic contract to a stair post, where it remains for much of the remainder of the show. As William and his son make their way backstage after their act, it is revealed that Walter has been struck through the head with one of his father's arrows. Luckily, it went "in one ear and out the other." The William Tell puppet was a redress of Marvin Suggs.

William Tell was also portrayed by Wilkins in a Wilkins Coffee commercial, with Wontkins in the role of Walter. After Wilkins shoots Wontkins, he shrugs, "We can still use the apple again." And Southern Bread also used the tale for another commercial.

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