Wilkins Puppet

Wilkins Puppet

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Description (Brief)

Wilkins was part of a duo known as Wilkins and Wontkins, which were some of the earliest creations by Jim Henson and his wife and partner Jane Nebel Henson. He is made of soft brown wool flannel with dangling limbs, button eyes, and a painted upturned mouth. This is the original Wilkins puppet created in 1956.

In 1956 a local Washington, D.C., company, Wilkins Coffee, contacted Jim Henson to produce a short television commercial, and Wilkins and Wontkins were born. Wilkins, the serious, cheerful one who loved coffee, regularly tortured the loveable Wontkins, who did not like coffee, and much to the dismay of Wilkins, refused to even try a cup.

Wilkins, with his somewhat serious and endearing demeanor, bears a striking resemblance to one of Henson’s most enduring creations, the beloved Kermit the Frog. Wontkins, on the other hand, fashioned in a simple triangular or pyramid shape with button eyes and a large protruding nose, wore a distinct frown that suggested his grumpy personality. Henson created over 200 8-second shorts that ran on local television stations promoting the benefits of Wilkins Coffee and expanded into advertising for other products across the country.

Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
puppet
date made
1957
performer
Henson, Jim
maker
Henson, Jim
Physical Description
felt (overall material)
wood (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 12 1/2 in x 6 in x 7 in; 31.75 cm x 15.24 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
2013.0101.03
accession number
2013.0101
catalog number
2013.0101.03
Credit Line
Gift of the Family of Jim Henson: Lisa Henson, Cheryl Henson, Brian Henson, John Henson and Heather Henson
subject
Television
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Jim Henson
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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