The Muppets: Frank Oz, Voice of Miss Piggy, Claims He Was Pushed Out by Disney
Frank Oz has one of the most iconic voices in show business. Not only has he played Master Yoda, but he is responsible for some of Sesame Street and the Muppets’ most pivotal characters. For close to 40 years, Oz was the hand that operated Fozzie Bear, Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Miss Piggy.
Not only did Oz collaborate alongside Muppet founder Jim Henson, but he also directed some of the most revered comedy films of the last 30 years.
Oz gave an interview in late August 2021 where he broke down why he was no longer working with the Muppets.
Since the beginning of The Muppets, Frank Oz has been there
Oz was born in England and moved to California as a child. He met Henson as a teenager while both were employed as puppeteers at an amusement park. For many years, the two worked together on various projects, including The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Labyrinth.
His directing credits with the Jim Henson Company include The Dark Crystal and The Muppets Take Manhattan. He also is known for making Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What about Bob? and Death at a Funeral.
‘I’d love to do the Muppets again,’ Frank Oz says
Despite a career voicing Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Grover, and Cookie Monster, Oz eventually parted ways with the Muppets. Oz told The Guardian that Disney, who now owns the Muppet characters, was no longer interested in hiring him.
“I’d love to do the Muppets again, but Disney doesn’t want me,” Oz said. He added, “Sesame Street hasn’t asked me for 10 years.”
Oz claimed that he and the company differed on the Muppets’ creative direction. “They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders, and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in,” he continued.
The puppeteer did not hold back when asked about his thoughts on the franchise’s current state. “The soul’s not there,” he said. “The soul is what makes things grow and be funny.”
Oz stated that there was a difference between “the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets. There’s an inability for corporate America to understand the value of something they bought. They never understood, with us, it’s not just about the puppets, it’s about the performers who love each other and have worked together for many years.”
The former Muppeteer believes selling out is what killed Jim Henson
In one of the interview’s most controversial statements, Oz attributed Henson’s death to the effects of selling out.
“The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim,” he claimed. “It made him sick.”
In 1989, Henson and Michael Eisner began deliberations to merge the former’s company with Disney. The deal was worth over $150 million and included the company using Henson as a consultant.
Henson died of toxic shock syndrome before an official agreement was reached.
“Eisner was trying to get Sesame Street, too, which Jim wouldn’t allow,” Oz said. “But Jim was not a dealer. He was an artist, and it was destroying him, it really was.”Oz reiterated at the end of the interview that he was pushed out of The Muppets organization. However, his iconic characters from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show still hold a special place in his heart. “I miss them and love them,” he said.