Despite the fame of The Muppet Show, Kermit, Miss Piggy, all the Sesame Street characters, and even the early Muppet appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, I think the first Muppet to actually become a national figure was Rowlf the dog.
In the early 1960s, long before he became a sausage icon, Jimmy Dean was a country music star who'd had a huge hit song, "Big Bad John." In 1963, he got his own TV series that ran until 1966. One of the most popular segments were the charming chats that Jimmy Dean would have with this floppy dog. Occasionally, Rowlf would bang out a tune on a piano.
(Rowlf -- who was voiced by Muppet creator Jim Henson -- actually made his appearance the year before, in a TV commercial for Purina Dog Chow.)
That history is what makes this video a treat. It comes from what I think is a Disney convention, called D23. And it features the first "famous" Muppet not only performing with the iconic Muppet, Kermit -- but together they sing what has become the iconic Muppet song, "The Rainbow Connection."
Making this fun, too, is a wonderful ad lib thrown in by Rowlf when he screws up...
(It all starts after a brief commercial. If for some reason it doesn't load -- I had a slight problem with the software -- click here instead.)
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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