Sam the Eagle
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|Sam the Eagle|
|The Muppets character|
|First appearance||The Muppet Show|
|Created by||Jim Henson|
|Species||Muppet bald eagle|
Sam's patriotic spirit differentiates him from the rest of the Muppet cast, as does his general stuffiness and pomposity. Because of this, it has been a running gag in either The Muppet Show, or Muppet movies, that shows his patriotism towards the United States. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, the fourth wall was broken when Sam (playing Scrooge's former headmaster) tells the young Scrooge that he will love business because "It's the American way". Gonzo, playing Charles Dickens, as well as the narrator, whispers in his ear that the line is, "It's the British way," because the story takes place in Great Britain.
Sam often rallied against the 'low brow' entertainment he claimed was on the show, and often tried to bring 'dignity and class' to the performances, usually without any real success. During the first season, Sam would introduce two Muppet characters named Wayne and Wanda who would often sing various songs that were considered by Sam to be 'normal' and 'high brow' when compared to the rest of the show and its cast. In one episode the other Muppets claimed that Sam had gone on vacation to Moret-sur-Loing, France. However, due to time constraints these scenes found their way to the cutting-room floor; but can be viewed in several of the newly released Muppets DVDs.
On the show, Sam acts as a censor and comments on his being under-appreciated. He often gives self-important lectures in which he espouses some conservative idea only to find himself forced to stop in embarrassment at risk of sounding like a hypocrite. On one occasion he gives a lecture about conservationism in which he reads a list of endangered animal species that he feels are the focus of misguided conservation efforts, only to sheepishly withdraw his statement when he realizes that his own species is included. In another sketch, he lectures on indecency because all people are naked underneath their clothes, leaving the podium in embarrassment upon realizing that all birds are similarly naked underneath their feathers.
Throughout the first season of The Muppet Show, Sam introduces his favorite singing duo, Wayne and Wanda, with gushing aplomb, praising them for their appropriateness. Although they are never able to finish a song (their routines always end with slapstick violence), Sam still adores them because they appeal to his conservative sensibilities: the couple sings old standards like "You Do Something to Me" and "It's Only a Paper Moon".
Though he claims to be a cultured bird, close observation reveals that Sam knows nothing about culture, especially the culture of his own country. He has mistaken Beethoven for a playwright and believes The Sound of Music was written by William Shakespeare. When informed that ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev would be the guest star (Episode 213), Sam declared Nureyev as his favorite opera singer. Also when Nureyev arrived, Sam didn't recognize him and ejected him from the theater. Sam is often hostile toward others who do not possess similar views to his own.
Sam does not interact with the guest stars of the show as often as the rest of the cast, but he is featured prominently in several episodes. In one he throws casually dressed guest star Rudolf Nureyev out of the building in a fit of temper, mistaking him for a bum. Although he is forgiven by Nureyev, he is still disheartened because Mr. Nureyev (whom he believes is an opera singer rather than a ballet dancer) did not live up to his expectations. Similarly, Sam makes a bet with Kermit the Frog during the Elton John episode, demanding Kermit to explain "WHY does he DRESS like a STOLEN CAR?", and is forced to wear a flamboyant, albeit patriotic, costume. During the third season's Halloween episode, Sam confronts Alice Cooper. Railing against the audience and "indecency" and "low brow" humor, Sam calls Cooper a "demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty, Freako!" Rather than being insulted by these comments as Sam was intending, Cooper takes it as a compliment and thanks Sam, to which Sam despairingly retorts, "Freakos one, civilization zero."
On Muppets Tonight, Sam periodically hosted a debate show a la The McLaughlin Group, entitled From The Eagle's Nest. Unfortunately, the only permanent debaters were Miss Piggy's dimwit nephews Andy & Randy, who routinely got the better of him. His tagline for the show was "Let's talk POLITICS!"
Sam appears in most of the Muppet feature films, usually only as a brief cameo (two in The Great Muppet Caper, the first stepping into the lobby after the Happiness Hotel number simply to claim "You are all weirdos."). However in Muppet Treasure Island he plays first mate Samuel Arrow and thus takes a more active role in the story.
In Muppets from Space, Sam appears at Cape Doom with the rest of the Muppets during the party the alien Muppets cause by singing Celebration. Sam is at first appalled at a girl who is dancing in a shirt which bares her midriff, but is then later seen dancing and enjoying himself. This is the first time Sam was shown in any of the Muppet films actively participating in normal youth culture.
In the 2011 film, Sam is seen doing a segment on news TV called "Everything Stinks" during a montage of getting The Muppets back together; he is then pulled off-screen with a cane. He is later on seen as one of the phone operators of The Muppet Telethon and as part of the Barbershop Quartet singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with Rowlf the Dog, Link Hogthrob and Beaker. When it comes to finale version of "Life's a Happy Song", he is seen with Lips, Crazy Harry, Nigel the Conductor, and Trumpet Girl.
- Frank Oz: The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975) - Muppet RaceMania (2000)
- Eric Jacobson: The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) - present
- Kevin Clash: It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), Muppets Party Cruise (2003) (both cases voice only)
- John Kennedy: It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) (puppetry only)
- Drew Massey: Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony Episodes 11, 15, 18 and 33 (2005–2006)