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Frank Oz (born Richard Frank Oznowicz on May 25, 1944) is an American actor, puppeteer and director, best known as the puppeteer for and original voice of Yoda. Outside of Star Wars, Oz is notable for his work with Jim Henson's Muppets and in film directing.

BiographyEdit

Oz was born in Hereford, England, but moved to California with his parents when he was five years old.

MuppetsEdit

"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."
Michael K. Frith

Oz 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. Henson and Oz 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, w:c:muppet:Sam the Eagle 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.[1] 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."[2]

DirectingEdit

Starting in the mid-1990s, after 3+ decades of Muppet performing, Oz began to transition away from his Muppet duties to focus on directing (including 1989's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which co-starred Ian McDiarmid). Though he still occasionally performs his characters on Sesame Street, his four primary Muppet Show characters were passed to Eric Jacobson (Bert and Grover) and David Rudman (Cookie Monster) immediately following Muppets from Space.

Although well known for the role of Yoda, Oz refuses to attend fan conventions or imitate the character's voice outside of Star Wars, out of his respect for the role.[3]

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 American Comedy Awards Creative Artist Award presented by John Cleese[4]

Star Wars workEdit

DocumentariesEdit

BibliographyEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit