With the release of Muppets Most Wanted in theaters this week, you may see Muppets everywhere. Did you know that there is a long history of Muppet connections to Star Wars? They may seem very different but over the years there have been many fun crossovers between these worlds (or galaxies). Here are a few favorites.
The most important connection between the Muppets and Star Wars is puppeteer/actor/director Frank Oz. Back in 1978 when The Empire Strikes Back was in the works, Frank Oz was best known for performing Muppet characters like Grover, Bert, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie. Then he gave life and voice to the wise old Jedi Master Yoda for that film (then Episode VI and later I, II, and III) and he became a key part of Star Wars history.
Over the years, Sesame Street has had its share of visits from Star Wars actors including James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader), Natalie Portman, (Padmé Amidala), Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). The biggest intergalactic guest stars, though, have to be C-3PO and R2-D2. Our favorite droid duo made appearances in two Sesame Street episodes back in 1980.
1980 was a great year for Star Wars with the release of The Empire Strikes Back and also a great year for The Muppet Show, too! Mark Hamill starred on one episode as himself and as his “cousin” Luke Skywalker, along with C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca, who ALL got a chance to dance! It is a strange episode, but it was always a wonderfully strange show!
The mid/late-’80s Saturday-morning cartoon Muppet Babies frequently had pop-culture jokes, with references ranging from Star Trek to Indiana Jones and of course, Star Wars. Many Star Wars moments and characters were spoofed in the series and there are two different episodes with the Muppet Babies reenacting their own versions of Star Wars!
At Disneyland and Walt Disney World there have been many collectible items available that mash-up Star Wars and the Muppets, including posters, shirts, and action figures.
Behind the Scenes
There are other interesting off-screen links between the Muppets and Star Wars, including:
- Star Wars creator George Lucas was an executive producer on the movie Labyrinth (1986), directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson.
- Jim Henson and Frank Oz also co-directed The Dark Crystal (1982), which was produced by Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz.
For a much more detailed list of Star Wars/Muppets links visit thisMuppet Wiki page!
Chris Hamilton is the host/creator of Star Wars Kidscast, “the only podcast in the Galaxy for kids” and contributor to Star Wars Comics/Magazine.