Miss Piggy

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Miss Piggy
The Muppets character
MissPiggy.jpg
First appearance October 13, 1974, on Herb Alpert and the TJB
Created by Bonnie Erickson (designer)[1]
Frank Oz (characterization)
Performed by
Information
Species Muppet pig
Gender Female
Occupation
  • Actress
  • Magazine editor
  • Singer
Significant other(s) Kermit the Frog

Miss Piggy is a Muppet character introduced in 1974 and made famous by her role in Jim Henson's The Muppet Show. The character was performed until 2000 by Frank Oz, who was succeeded by Eric Jacobson in 2001. She was voiced by Laurie O'Brien in Muppet Babies and Hal Rayle in Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters.

In 1996 TV Guide ranked her number 23 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.[2]

History[edit]

Miss Piggy began as a minor character on The Muppet Show TV series, but gradually developed into one of the central characters of the show. She is a pig, specifically, a mangalitsa who is convinced she is destined for stardom, and nothing will stand in her way. She has a capricious nature, at times determined to convey an image of feminine charm, but suddenly flying into a violent rage (accompanied by her trademark karate chop and "hi-yah!") whenever she thinks someone has insulted or thwarted her. Kermit the Frog is often the target of her alternating anger and affection. When not sending him flying through the air, she often smothers him in (usually unwanted) kisses. Frank Oz assigned hooks or personalities to each Muppet. Miss Piggy's hook was a "Truck driver wanting to be a woman".[3]

The first known appearance of Miss Piggy was on the Herb Alpert TV special Herb Alpert and the TJB, broadcast on October 13, 1974, on ABC. Miss Piggy's voice was noticeably more demure and soft, singing with Herb, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love."

The first draft of the puppet was a blonde, beady-eyed pig who appeared briefly in the 1975 pilot special The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, in a sketch called "Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs." She was unnamed in that show, but by the time The Muppet Show began in 1976, she was recognizably Miss Piggy—sporting large blue eyes, wearing a flowing white gown, and pouncing on Kermit, the love of her life.

Miss Piggy soon developed into a major character, as the Muppet creators recognized that a lovelorn pig could be more than a one-note running gag. Frank Oz has said that while Fozzie Bear is a two-dimensional character, and Animal has no dimensions, Miss Piggy is one of the few Muppets to be fully realized in three dimensions. She spawned a huge fad during the late 1970s and early 1980s and eclipsed Kermit and the other Muppets in popularity at that time, selling far more merchandise and writing a book that, unlike any of Kermit's books, wound up on top of the New York Times Bestseller List.

Miss Piggy's personality and voice was seen and heard in other female characters performed by Frank Oz before the character's debut. For instance, a Sesame Street Muppet skit from 1971 featured Snow White performed by Frank Oz and acting (as well as sounding) like Miss Piggy. Another sound-alike came from a contestant in a Guy Smiley sketch called "The Mystery Mix-Up Game".

In The Muppet Show episode 106, Piggy is referred to by the full name "Piggy Lee," and in episode 116, Piggy tells guest star Avery Schreiber that Piggy is short for "Pigathius", "from the Greek, meaning 'river of passion'". Also during the Jim Nabors episode when asked what (astrological) sign she was born under she replied that she wasn't born under a sign, she was born over one, "Becker's Butcher shop". She portrayed Wonder Pig, a spoof a Wonder Woman in episode 419 while Lynda Carter sang "The Rubberband Man" and "Orange Colored Sky".

In an interview with the New York Times in 1979, Frank Oz outlined Piggy's biography: "She grew up in a small town in Iowa; her father died when she was young, and her mother wasn't that nice to her. She had to enter beauty contests to survive, as many single women do. She has a lot of vulnerability which she has to hide, because of her need to be a superstar."

Miss Piggy also owns a pet, a white poodle dog named Foo-Foo (performed by Steve Whitmire), who is one of the few characters that doesn't speak and is a pet. Piggy is often seen as very tender towards her, although to the point of sickly saccharin parentese. On The Muppet Show, Foo-Foo was portrayed as both a Muppet and a real poodle in different shots. Foo-Foo mostly appears as a sidekick to Miss Piggy is most movies and specials. In the first episode of Muppets Tonight, Piggy gets jealous of Michelle Pfeiffer and sics the poodle on her during the finale. Pfeiffer responded by ordering Animal to counterattack.

Screen appearances[edit]

In The Muppet Movie, she has just won a beauty contest when she first meets Kermit and joins the Muppets. In The Great Muppet Caper Piggy proves she has a talent for tap dancing, seemingly without knowing it. She and Kermit also kiss (on the lips, yet slightly covered) while Miss Piggy is a prisoner in jail; Miss Piggy ends up wearing Kermit's fake mustache, while Kermit has X-marks on his upper lip.

Eventually in the films, Kermit started returning her affections and (unwittingly) marries her in The Muppets Take Manhattan, though subsequent events suggest that it was only their characters in the movie that married, and that their relationship is really the same as ever. It is mentioned by Miss Piggy, however, in "The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 years (which aired in 1986) that Kermit was a happily-married frog. This special aired two years after "The Muppets Take Manhattan". This is really the only indication outside of a movie that Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog were married. This marriage isn't referenced in Muppets Most Wanted and the two get married again in this film.

In 1987, Miss Piggy was a guest star on Dolly Parton's musical variety show, Dolly, singing and performing with Parton, while at the same time secretly attempting to steal the show from her host, mostly by sabotaging Parton's musical segments and attempting to trick producers into giving her more solo spots. Parton, annoyed at being undermined by Miss Piggy, told another of her guests, Juice Newton, that they might be "having ham sandwiches after the show".

In The Muppet Christmas Carol, she appears as Mrs. Cratchit, to Kermit's Bob Cratchit.

In Muppet Treasure Island, the part of crazed Ben Gunn was adapted to fit Miss Piggy, and "Benjamina" Gunn was revealed to be Captain Smollett's (played by Kermit) former lover. The two share a tender moment dueting on "Love Led Us Here".

Her part is significant but supporting in Muppets from Space, as the plucky news reporter eager to scoop the news on her friend Gonzo's bizarre alien encounters.

In the TV movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, a take on the classic It's a Wonderful Life, the characters are seen in an alternate universe, one without Kermit. Miss Piggy becomes a spinster cat lady, doing "psychic" readings on the phone.

In The Muppets, Miss Piggy is shown after the Muppets "broke up": jilted at the altar by Kermit at some indefinite point in the past, she has since moved on to become the plus-size editor for Vogue Paris. The other Muppets must beg her to leave her highly successful new life and rejoin them for another performance.

Miss Piggy (along with Kermit) was featured on the #88 UPS Ford of Dale Jarrett in the 2002 Tropicana 400 in an advertising campaign in which she and her fellow Muppets were featured on a select few NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race cars.

Miss Piggy appeared in the TV movie The Muppets' Wizard of Oz as all four witches.

Recent appearances[edit]

Miss Piggy sang with the Jonas Brothers as "Joan S. Jonas", with Ashley Tisdale during the number "Bop to the Top", and with the Cheetah Girls performing "Dance Me If You Can" as a part of Studio DC: Almost Live. A running gag from those first two episodes involved Miss Piggy looking for "Zacky" Efron. Miss Piggy made a special guest appearance on Take Two with Phineas and Ferb and sang "Spa Day" with Phineas and Ferb.

Miss Piggy made a number of appearances in 2011 and 2012 to promote The Muppets. Miss Piggy made a special guest appearance on the Disney Channel Original Series So Random! alongside Sterling Knight (who will make a special cameo appearance the The Muppets). She was the first guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno November 4, 2011, appeared on Chelsea Lately on November 21, 2011, and sang with Olly Murs on the UK The X Factor on November 27, 2011. On November 19, 2011, Miss Piggy, fellow Muppets, and Jason Segel participated in the opening monologue of Saturday Night Live by singing "I Can't Believe I'm Hosting SNL."

Miss Piggy and her fellow Muppets made a guest appearance on the Halloween 2011 episode of WWE Raw. She and Kermit opened the show at the TitanTron entrance before they were suddenly interrupted by Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero. Santino Marella intervened in the confrontation to announce his match with Swagger later in the show before Kelly Kelly appeared and gave Kermit a kiss on her way to the ring, much to Miss Piggy's dismay. Later in the show, Miss Piggy was backstage admiring John Morrison's physique and asking him for a date after the show. Morrison told her he had other plans, but he brought in Hornswoggle to keep her company. Hornswoggle gave her a kiss, to which she responded with a karate chop to the stomach.

In an episode aired January 19, 2012, Miss Piggy appeared on Project Runway: All Stars Season 1 as a guest judge for clothes designed for her character in the movie. She also appeared on the British morning breakfast show This Morning alongside Kermit, Rizzo and Beaker. On 9 February 2012, Miss Piggy appeared on Lawro's Predictions on BBC Football's website to predict the coming week's Premier League matches. Along with Kermit the Frog, they made only three predictions including a 63-25 win for Liverpool against Manchester United. She also starred in E! Fashion Police.

On Friday, March 15, 2013, Miss Piggy appeared on the UK telethon Comic Relief to reveal the cash total and introduce boy band One Direction. She was in Dream House 2013. On December 6, 2013, she performed 'Somethin' Stupid' alongside Robbie Williams at the London Palladium.

Performers[edit]

Frank Oz was Miss Piggy's principal performer from her early appearances on The Muppet Show until 2000[4] (his last known performance as Piggy was an appearance on The Today Show). Oz's earliest known performance as Piggy was actually in a 1974 appearance on The Tonight Show. Richard Hunt occasionally performed Miss Piggy during the first season of The Muppet Show, alternating with Oz. In 2001, Eric Jacobson was named the new performer of Miss Piggy, with his first public debut as the character was performed via satellite at the 2001 MuppetFest. Jacobson has remained Piggy's principal performer since then, likening the role as "one of the most famous drag acts in the business."[4]

During Oz's tenure as the character, other performers would step in. Jerry Nelson performed Piggy in 1974 for a brief appearance on Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Fran Brill performed Piggy for The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, a pilot for The Muppet Show. Oz asked Kevin Clash to perform Piggy for most of the production of Muppet Treasure Island (though Oz was available for a few scenes). Oz dubbed Piggy's voice in post production. Clash also performed Piggy for an episode of Muppets Tonight (again, with Oz's voice dubbed in). Peter Linz performed Piggy for most of Muppets from Space (though Steve Whitmire performed her for one scene); Oz again dubbed Piggy's voice (and was available to perform Piggy for at least one interview on the set). Victor Yerrid briefly performed Piggy in Muppets Ahoy!, a 2006 stage show for the Disney Cruise Line.

For the Saturday morning cartoon, Muppet Babies, Piggy's voice was provided by voice actress Laurie O'Brien. Voice actor Hal Rayle provided her voice for a short-lived spin-off series, Little Muppet Monsters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian
  2. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 596. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  3. ^ Marks, Constance, dir. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. Perf. Kevin Clash. •Madman Entertainment , 2011. Film. <Minute 49>.
  4. ^ a b Setoodeh, Ramin (11 March 2014). "How Kermit and the Muppets Got Their Mojo Back". Variety. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 

External links[edit]