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Sam and Friends is an early live-action/puppet television show created by puppeteer Jim Henson and his eventual wife Jane Nebel. It was taped and aired twice daily as a local series in Washington, D.C., on WRC-TV in black and white, and later color, on weeknights from May 9, 1955, to December 15, 1961. Most of the original episodes were wiped after airing on TV. A few surviving episodes can be viewed at the Paley Center for Media but many can also be found on popular video sites like YouTube,[2][3] such as those digitally archived by The Jim Henson Company. Some have been documented by either the Henson Archives or newspaper articles published while the show was still on air. Some fans who grew up watching Sam and Friends have posted comments online about some of the lost episodes which they remembered watching.[4]

Sam and Friends
Tv sam and friends.jpg
"The Art of Visual Thinking" sketch of Sam and Friends in which Kermit and Harry the Hipster make their thoughts appear above their heads.
Harry: "Man, you're just a beginner. I'm an old pro at this stuff. Watch!"
Kermit: "Hey, a real watch!"
Harry: "With moving parts, no less."[1]
Created byJim Henson
Jane Henson
StarringJim Henson
Jane Henson
Bob Payne
Jerry Juhl
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodesUnknown
Running time5 minutes per sketch (and episode)
Original networkWRC-TV (NBC's owned-and-operated station in Washington, D.C.)
Audio formatMono
Original releaseMay 9, 1955; 64 years ago (1955-05-09) –
December 15, 1961; 57 years ago (1961-12-15)


Sam was a bald-headed human puppet with wide eyes, large ears, and a big nose. His friends included Yorick, Harry the Hipster, Professor Madcliffe, Chicken Liver, and a lizard-like character named Kermit (who later evolved into Kermit the Frog).

Early in its run, the show mostly featured the puppets lip-synching to popular songs of the day (if the song was by a female performer, the puppet would wear a wig while singing). Later, formal sketches were drawn up, many spoofing well-known television shows at the time, including the series which followed Sam and Friends in the Washington market, The Huntley-Brinkley Report.

A popular early sketch that would be used often in subsequent Henson productions was "Inchworm", in which a character, often Kermit, would nibble on what looked like a worm, but would ultimately turn out to be the tongue or nose of the monster Big V, who would devour him.

Bob Payne once substituted for Jim Henson while he was in Europe. Jerry Juhl also worked on the show toward the end of its run where he substituted for Jane Henson. Also around 1959, advertisements for Esskay Meats would appear at the end of the show, as well as Wilkins Coffee (the latter featured two Muppets created exclusively for the spots, "Wilkins" and "Wontkins").

While Payne, Juhl, and Jane Henson all puppeteered in the series alongside Jim Henson, Jim provided all of the voices himself (unless the voices were taken from a record).


  • Sam (performed by Jim Henson) – A bald-headed humanoid-like character who is the main character of the series. Sam never spoke, but would lip-sync to any song. His puppet was made of papier-mâché.
  • Kermit (performed by Jim Henson) – Before he became a frog, Kermit had a saurian-like appearance here.
  • Harry the Hipster (performed by Jim Henson) – A beatnik. He resembled a black sock puppet with shades and spoke in a hip slang. Harry was one of the first Muppets designed and built by Jim Henson.
  • Yorick (performed by Jim Henson) – A voracious puppet that resembled a rock head. Yorick has been known for appearing with Kermit in a segment where Kermit sang "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face" where Yorick tried to eat Kermit's foot. His puppet was made of papier-mâché with a tube in his mouth that allowed him to swallow things.
  • Professor Madcliffe (performed by Jim Henson) – A tall-headed professor with big eyes and a mustache. He had a loud and energetic personality.
  • Chicken Liver (performed by Jim Henson) – A humanoid character with a tall head and a big nose. He is also called Theodore. He was one of Jane Henson's favorite characters.
  • Hank and Frank – Two bald men. They took on the roles of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley in a spoof interview with Kermit.
  • Mushmellon – A yellow monster.
  • Icky Gunk – A snake with arms.
  • Henrietta (performed by Jerry Juhl) – A pink female creature of indeterminable species.
  • Moldy Hay – A humanoid character with orange-red skin, a big nose, and hair over his eyes.
  • Omar (performed by Jim Henson) – A beaked humanoid with a papier-mâché face.
  • Pierre the French Rat (performed by Jim Henson) – He was one of Jim Henson's first puppets. Pierre was embodied as a puppet made from plastic wood.


Actor Role
Jim Henson Sam
Harry the Hipster
Kermit the Frog
Chicken Liver
Professor Madcliffe
Pierre the French Rat
Jane Henson Others
Jerry Juhl Henrietta
Bob Payne Others

Later appearancesEdit

Sam & Friends is mentioned in chapter 2 of Kermit The Frog's book Before You Leap, under the heading of "My First Big Splash".

Henrietta appeared in The Muppets on Puppets during Rowlf the Dog's mixed-up fairy tale sketch portraying the fairy godmother. In this appearance, Henrietta was also performed by Jerry Juhl.

Sam, Harry the Hipster, and Yorick appeared in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years.

In August 2010, Jane Henson donated ten puppets from the show (including the original Kermit) to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.[5]

In July 2016, Hyattsville, Maryland, installed a memorial to Jim Henson in the city's Magruder Park, featuring a large planter embossed with images of characters from Sam & Friends and benches inscribed with quotes from Henson.[6]


Sam & Friends (Early Jim Henson's Muppets) at Google Drive

  1. ^ Visual Thinking Sketch on YouTube
  2. ^ "Sam and Friends on YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sam and Friends clips yet to be released". YouTube. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Sam and Friends article on the Lost Media Archive". Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Henson donates original Kermit to Smithsonian". Associated Press. August 26, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  6. ^ Bennett, Rebecca (July 9, 2016). "Magruder Park now home to memorial honoring Jim Henson's legacy". Hyattsville Today. Hyattsville, Maryland. Archived from the original on July 13, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2018.

External linksEdit