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Frank Oz

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Frank oz
Frank Oz
Biographical information
Born

May 25, 1944 Hereford, Herefordshire, England UK

Nationality

American

Career


Star Wars work

Frank Oz (born Richard Frank Oznowicz on May 25, 1944) is an American actor, Muppeteer, and director. He was born in Hereford, England, but moved to California with his parents when he was five years old.

Oz performed the voice of Yoda in five of the six Star Wars films, with the exception being Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in which Yoda does not appear. Oz also puppeteered the character in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He also performed the voice of Yoda for Return of the Ewok and the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. Archived sound of Oz performing the character was used for the video games LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Oz stated at the Revenge of the Sith DVD press conference in 2005 that he would be involved with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series, however, in a 2007 interview with Aintitcoolnews.com, he denied any involvement.[1][2]

He has appeared as either Yoda, himself, or both, in the following documentaries:

Although well known for the role, Oz refuses to attend fan conventions or imitate the character's voice outside of Star Wars, out of his respect for the role.[1][2]

Outside of Star Wars, Frank Oz is notable for his work with Jim Henson's Muppets and in film directing. He is Muppets creator Jim Henson's closest collaborator as well as his best friend. He performed the memorable Muppet characters Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Bert, Grover and Cookie Monster; and has directed several additional films...including 1989's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which co-starred Ian McDiarmid. These days, he occasionally performs his characters on Sesame Street, but his 4 primary Muppet Show characters have been passed on to Eric Jacobson, who has also assumed the roles of both Bert and Grover while Cookie Monster has been assumed by Muppeteer veteran David Rudman.

Frank Oz and Jim HensonEdit

It was with the several characters on which the two collaborated. Jim Henson and Frank Oz, together, made such memorable pairings as Ernie and Bert, as well as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, and the Swedish Chef. 3 other characters that Oz performed, Fozzie Bear, Grover and Cookie Monster, would play off of Kermit on numerous occasions, and there was also Lefty the Salesman, who tried to fool poor Ernie on several occasions. Other pairings of the team's characters include Rowlf the Dog and Fozzie Bear, along with Rowlf sometimes paired with Miss Piggy. Kermit also had to listen to another of Frank's characters, Sam the Eagle endlessly complain about the weirdness of what was shown normally on The Muppet Show. Also, when it came time for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem to perform a number on any Muppet Show episode, Henson's Dr. Teeth and Oz's Animal were always positioned right next to each other on the bandstand, even after Jim died. Also, in episode 302, when guest star Leo Sayer had asked to meet Animal, Dr. Teeth brought Animal into Leo's dressing room so Animal could meet him. As in the case of Kermit and Piggy, on several occasions, Henson's characters usually became victim to Oz's characters, and, occasionally, vice versa. For example, Kermit became Marvin Suggs' victim in episode 506 of The Muppet Show, as well as Animal. The 1st time this occurred was in episode 110, when Animal beat on Kermit like a drum to get him to forget about replacing Animal as the show's drummer. They also worked together in the early 1980s while co-directing/performing in The Dark Crystal. They also played the parents in the Twiddlebug family with Henson performing the father, Thomas Twiddlebug, and with Oz performing the mother, Tessie Twiddlebug.[3] It can be seen clearly that Jim and Frank had always been like brothers, like their primary characters on Sesame Street, Ernie and Bert, respectively, are today. At his Memorial Service, 5 short days after his death, Frank speaks of a Christmas gift Jim gave him, which he called Bert in Self-Contemplation". He starts to cry but manages to say "That's when I knew, he loved me & I loved him."[4]

Michael K. Frith says that Henson & Oz's work was inspiring:

"I've always said, & I still believe, that we all basically rode on the coat tails of Jim Henson & Frank Oz. They were a comedy duo that is up there with Laurel & Hardy. I mean, they had that sense of timing, they had that sense of play between themselves, they had the ability to understand each others characters & play off them with their characters."

Current Muppet StatusEdit

Starting in the mid-1990s, after 3+ decades of Muppet performing, Oz began to transition himself away from his Muppet duties to focus on directing. Immediately following Muppets from Space, all his main Muppet Show characters have been handed over to Eric Jacobson, who has also mostly taken over Bert & Grover, while David Rudman has become the new performer for Cookie Monster. Although, as David & Eric have once said, Oz usually comes in 4 or 5 times a year & will do a "Bert Day", "Grover Day", "Cookie Day", etc.

Muppeteer CreditsEdit

Awards & HonorsEdit

1974

  • Daytime Emmy for Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.

1976

  • Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.

1979

  • Daytime Emmy for Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.

1999

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit

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