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 seven Star Wars films, with the exception being Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, when Yoda had not been introduced. 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. He lent his voice to Yoda in two episodes of Star Wars Rebels "Path of the Jedi" and "Shroud of Darkness",.
He has appeared as either Yoda, himself, or both, in the following documentaries:
- SPFX: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983)
- From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga (1985)
- George Lucas: Heroes, Myths and Magic (1993)
- The Beginning: Making Episode I (2001)
- Films Are Not Released, They Escape (2002)
- From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II (2002)
- Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004)
- When Star Wars Ruled the World (2004)
- Star Wars: Feel the Force (2005)
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. 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."
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.
- Commercials: Delbert the La Choy Dragon (body), The Southern Colonel (assistant)
- Sesame Street: Aladdin, Alistair Cookie, As I Was Going to St. Ives girl, The Barber, Bart, Baskerville the Hound, Beautiful Day Monster, Bert (1969 - present), Betty Lou (occasional), Bruce Rumpelstiltskin, Carson, The Cat, Carson, Charlie, Cloud, Clucky Luciano (in "Here Is Your Life"), Consider Yourself kids, Cookie Monster (1969 - present), Count von Count's Bats, Doc Holiday, Dr. Rainbrain, End, Farmer Frankie, Fat Blue "Fat Cat" performer, Frances Oznowicz, Grover (1970 - present), Grover's Mommy, Harvey Kneeslapper, Helen Happy, Humpty Dumpty, Jascha Lombardi, J Friend, Keith Hearburn, King Kenny the Kind, Larry Rhymie, Lefty the Salesman, Little Miss Muffet, Lucy Jones, Mailman, Mr. Draper, Mrs. Rooney, Old King Cole's Band Lavender fiddler & Fat Blue saxophone player, The Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe ("Sesame Street News Flash"), Parker Piper, The Pied Piper, a pineapple from "Bilingual Fruit Song", Pinocchio, Poppa Piper, Porter Piper, Prince Charming, Princess Penelope, Professor Hastings, Pumpkin Anything Muppet doctor from "The People in Your Neighborhood", Pumpkin Anything Muppet woman from "I Want to Hold Your Ear", Purple Anything Muppet female back-up singer from "Mahna Mahna", Rocky's Mother, Rosemary, Sad Man, Sally Screamer, Scudge, Sister (albums only), The Tallest Person in the Kingdom, Smilin' Jack, Snow White (1971), The Square, Susie, T-Shirt Salesman, The Smallest Person in the Kingdom, Tessie Twiddlebug, Tooth, The Tortoise, The Wicked Witch, Yellow Submarine Purple captain, Yip Yip Martians, Zippy Zoomers
- The Ed Sullivan Show: Furryface, Dancer
- Hey Cinderella!: Stepsister # 1, Rufus
- The Great Santa Claus Switch: Boppity, Hoppity, Skippity, Snerf #1, Thig
- Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: Beautiful Day Monster (Muppetry only)
- One to One: Marvin
- The Frog Prince: Gawain
- Saturday Night Live: The Mighty Favog, Food, Glig
- The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence: Forcryingoutloud Bird, Pig, Purple Heap, Ruler, Theodore Roosevelt
- The Muppet Show: Alien, Animal (1975 - 2000), Baskerville the Hound (110), Black Rooster, Boo Mortmorkinson, Blue Frackle (104, 107), Dancers, Doglion (episode 211), Feather Boa Constrictor, Fozzie Amoeba, Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Frank, Fred, George the Janitor, Geri & the Atrics (piano player), Gingerbread Man, Green Frackle (103), Gorgon Heap (103, 204), Gramps, House #3 (119), Hugga Wugga, Male Koozebanian Creature, Marvin Suggs, Mary Louise (episode 204), Mean Mama, Merdlidop, Mildred Huxtetter ("At the Dance", Season 1), Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Rowlf the Dog (assistant), Salzburg Sauerkraut Singer, Sam the Eagle (1975 - 2000), Shark (402), Sheep Wolf, Slim Wilson (322), The Snowths, The Swedish Chef (hands), The Swedish Pig
- Muppet Meeting Films: Grump, Kent, Sam the Eagle
- Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas: Chuck Stoat, Alice Otter (Muppetry only)
- Christmas Eve on Sesame Street: Bert (1969 - present), Grover (1970 - present), Cookie Monster (1969 - present)
- The Muppet Movie: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- The Dark Crystal: Aughra (Muppetry), SkekSil (Muppetry)
- The Great Muppet Caper: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976-2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: Bert (1969 - present), Grover (1970 - present), Cookie Monster (1969 - present), Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- Follow That Bird: Bert (1969 - present), Grover (1970 - present), Cookie Monster (1969 - present)
- Labyrinth: The Wiseman (puppeteer only)
- A Muppet Family Christmas: Bert (1969 - present), Grover (1970 - present), Cookie Monster ( 1969 - present), Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- Muppet*Vision 3D: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000), & Construction Worker
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), & Animal (1976 - 2000)
- The Muppet Christmas Carol: Miss Piggy (as Emily Cratchit) (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (as Fozziwig) (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000), Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000), Vegetable Seller, & Mr Bitte
- Holiday Greetings from The Ed Sullivan Show: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002) & Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000)
- Muppet Treasure Island: Miss Piggy (as Benjamina Gunn) (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear, (as Squire Trelawney) (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 -2000) & Sam the Eagle (as Samuel Arrow) (1976 - 2000)
- Muppets Tonight: The Lion, Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- The Animal Show: Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000) (1 episode)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late: Bert (1969 - present), Grover (1970 - present), Cookie Monster (1976 - present), Uncle Hank
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Bert (1976 - present), Grover (1970 - present), & Cookie Monster (1976 - present)
- Muppets from Space: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- Muppet RaceMania: Miss Piggy (1976 - 2002), Fozzie Bear (1976 - 2000), Animal (1976 - 2000) & Sam the Eagle (1976 - 2000)
- Elmo's Potty Time: Grover (1970 - present)
Awards & HonorsEdit
- Daytime Emmy for Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.
- Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.
- Daytime Emmy for Individual Achievement in Children's Programming for Sesame Street.
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Sands, Rich (December 15, 2014). Exclusive: Yoda Returns for Star Wars Rebels. TV Guide. Retrieved on December 15, 2014.
- ↑ Breznican, Anthony (2015-12-20). Obi-Wan and Yoda are secretly in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on December 21, 2015.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 http://www.starwars.com/hyperspace/member/audiocast/audio/SW_dvdpressevent_03_2005-10-10.mp3
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 http://www.aintitcool.com/?q=node/33610
- ↑ Muppet Wiki: Frank Oz and Jim Henson
- ↑ Frank Oz speaks at Jim Henson's Memorial Service