The Original Kermit Puppet

The Original Kermit Puppet

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)

This Kermit the Frog puppet was created by Jim Henson in 1955 for Sam and Friends. It is the first Kermit puppet, and it is made from Jim Henson’s mother’s old spring coat and a pair of Jim’s blue jeans. Henson used ping pong balls for the eyes. Kermit started as a lizard-like character and evolved into a frog over time. A newer version of this Kermit that was a brighter green color began to be used in 1963 when color television became more common. Subtle changes to his collar and feet were made as newer versions of Kermit were created, but the Kermit we recognize today has not really changed since 1973. When creating Kermit, Jim Henson wanted a puppet that was more capable of expression than those made with harder materials. There is no stuffing in Kermit’s head, meaning the puppeteer’s hand is the only thing inside. This allows for every subtle movement of the puppeteer’s fingers to become a subtle expression change in Kermit.

Sam and Friends was a five-minute show that aired on the local NBC affiliate station in Washington, D.C., WRC-TV. It featured a cast of hand puppets created by Jim Henson and his eventual wife Jane Nebel that often lip-synched to popular songs or comedy records. It aired from 1955 to 1961.

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Henson, Jim
Henson, Jim
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
leather (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 22 in x 9 in x 9 in; 55.88 cm x 22.86 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift from the Family of Jim Henson
Television broadcasts
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Jim Henson
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.

Note: Comment submission is temporarily unavailable while we make improvements to the site. We apologize for the interruption. If you have a question relating to the museum's collections, please first check our Collections FAQ. If you require a personal response, please use our Contact page.