Disney’s attempt to buy The Muppets ‘is probably what killed’ Jim Henson, claims Frank Oz

·2 min read
Disney’s attempt to buy The Muppets ‘is probably what killed’ Jim Henson, claims Frank Oz

Frank Oz has spoken out in criticism of Disney’s recent Muppet movies, claiming that the studio’s attempts to acquire The Muppets “is probably what killed” creator Jim Henson.

The actor, filmmaker and famed puppeteer voiced characters including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal on The Muppet Show, appearing in the hit children’s TV and film franchise until 2007.

However, Oz has not appeared in the Muppet-themed films or TV series that have been produced since then, including 2011’s The Muppets and 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted.

The Muppets were created by Henson in 1955. Disney entered negotiations to buy the rights to The Muppets in the late 1980s, eventually acquiring the Muppets from the Hensons in 2004.

Henson, however, died in 1990 of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Speaking to The Guardian in a new interview, Oz claimed: “The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim. It made him sick.

“[Then-Disney boss Michael Eisner] was trying to get Sesame Street, too, which Jim wouldn’t allow,” Oz continued. “But Jim was not a dealer, he was an artist, and it was destroying him, it really was.”

Speaking about the current-day iterations of the Muppets and Sesame Street, he said: “The soul’s not there. The soul is what makes things grow and be funny. But I miss them and love them.”

He also claimed there is “a demarcation line between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets”.

Alongside the original Muppet Show, Henson’s era in charge of the Muppets saw the release of films including The Great Muppet Caper and Muppets Take Manhattan.

“There’s an inability for corporate America to understand the value of something they bought,” Oz said. “They never understood, with us, it’s not just about the puppets, it’s about the performers who love each other and have worked together for many years.

“I’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me, and Sesame Street hasn’t asked me for 10 years,” he continued. “They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in.”

The Independent has contacted Disney for comment.

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