Oscar the Grouch Puppet

Description (Brief)
Puppeteer Jim Henson created this delightfully disagreeable Muppet character in 1969 for the children’s TV series, Sesame Street. In Jim’s original sketches, Oscar was purple; in the first episodes of Sesame Street, his fur was orange. By 1970, he had evolved into a green creature, a final color change that resulted, as Oscar explained, from the dampness at his vacation spot, Camp Mushy Muddy. Oscar’s gruff, no-nonsense voice was created by puppeteer Carroll Spinney, who also enacts another beloved Muppet, Big Bird.
Oscar resides in his own battered aluminum trash can. In the back of the trash can is a crescent-shaped opening, which allows entrance and egress for the puppeteer. Oscar is animated by a metal rods attached to the character’s arms, which are manipulated by the puppeteer. The puppeteer moves the head by inserting an arm inside the puppets torso.
date made
Children's Television Workshop
Muppets, Inc.
Henson, Jim
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
fabric (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 36 in x 24 in x 12 in; 91.44 cm x 60.96 cm x 30.48 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Muppets, Inc. (through David V. B. Britt and Children's Television Workshop)
Radio and television broadcasting
Television broadcasts
Children's television programs
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Family & Social Life
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
T is for Television
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


"I was watching Get Smart and there was a scene with a control agent hiding in a garbage can & he referred to himself as a "grouch " I wonder which came first this scene or the Sesame Street character. It's not that unusual for artists to derive stuff from other sources, completely unconsciously. Get Smart ran from 1965-70, Sesame Street started in 1969, It may have been a reference to Sesame Street but seems unlikely since Sesame St was just getting started, probably wasn't that big, it's statistically more likely the Get Smart episode came first. (Other possibly helpful distinguishing features of the episode: Max giving a cardigan to a news agent who turned out to be a chaos agent who abducted him, he was then drugged and made to do arithmetic, at the end the chaos agent was shot wearing the cardigan, Max was annoyed about it being damaged)."
Was privileged to see Oscar and Kermit many years ago. Was hoping to view them and all of the other donated Muppets from recent years during an upcoming visit in June 2015. What a treasure for Jane Henson and all others involved to have made possible. Thanks!
The museum's collection of Muppets is mostly not on display at this time. Selected characters have been shown in our "American Stories " exhibition - currently (as of April 2015) the Count is on view. This is subject to change. This website shows some of the Muppets we have collected as well as other puppets in the collection: http://americanhistory.si.edu/puppetry.

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