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Performer:
Richard Hunt • (1976 - 1991)
John Henson • (1991 - 2005)
Matt Vogel • (2009 - present)
Sweetums

Sweetums

Sweetums speech Barnes & Noble

Sweetums speaks at an appearance at "Barnes & Noble".

Robin and Sweetums

Sweetums and his very best friend, Robin the Frog.

Frog Prince Robin & Sweetums

Sweetums menaces Robin in The Frog Prince (before they were best friends).

Richard Hunt lower half Sweetums

Richard Hunt, with the head obscured, lounging as Sweetums.

Sweetums is a large, hairy ogre who towers above his human and Muppet co-stars. His bulldog-like lower jaw, thick eyebrows, shabby brown shirt, and threatening expression belie his more or less genial nature.

The Frog Prince

Sweetums first appeared on the TV special The Frog Prince in 1971 as Taminella's ogre. In this fairytale story, Sir Robin the Brave comes across Sweetums in the woods and enters into battle. Just as the handsome prince is about to defeat the monster, the witch Taminella appears and turns him into Robin the Frog. The ogre coos over the "cute froggy-frog", and Taminella tells her darling "Sweetums" that he can have the frog...for breakfast.

Robin escapes and makes his way to the King's castle, where he befriends Princess Melora. Taminella, who has insinuated herself into the King's confidence, captures the frog and brings him to the dungeon. She returns him to the care of Sweetums, who plans to eat the frog. Robin and Kermit trick the simple-minded ogre by singing him a lullaby, "Sleep, Sweetums", which easily puts him to sleep. While Sweetums is asleep, Kermit pretends to be Taminella and tells Sweetums to open the cage and let the frog go.

Once Robin is free, Sweetums wakes up and realizes that he's been tricked. "It's yummy-yummy time!" he bellows, as he tries to catch the terrified frogs. The ogre sings a war song, "Sweetums", as he swings his massive club around the dungeon. Robin and Kermit hop just out of his reach. Furious, Sweetums smashes at a stone pillar, which crumbles -- and knocks another pillar down on his head. The monster collapses, unconscious, and the frogs escape, and then proceed to stop the coronation, destroy Taminella and her power, and break her evil spell, which helped Princess Melora get her proper speech pattern back.

Sweetums reappears at the conclusion of the story, in the crowd of Peasants singing the praises of the new queen.

The Muppet Movie

Sweetums had a featured part in The Muppet Movie; his quest to reach Hollywood parallels the Muppets' journey. When Kermit and his friends first meet Sweetums, he's working as a jack (the job, not the name) for Mad Man Mooney, a shady used car dealer who treats the ogre badly. Sweetums takes a shine to the Muppets and helps them swindle the swindler, swatting a fly over a price tag and changing the price from $1195 to $11.95.

Grateful, Kermit asks Sweetums if he wants to join them on the trip to Hollywood. Sweetums runs off, and Kermit thinks he's not interested -- but, in fact, he's gone to get his carpet bag, and he's disappointed to find that the Muppets have driven off without him. He follows Kermit's trail for the rest of the movie, at one point tracking them through the Bogen County Fair. He finally catches up with them at the end of the movie, bursting through the screen and joining his friends in Hollywood.

Performing Sweetums

Jerry Nelson performed Sweetums for his first appearance in The Frog Prince, with the character's voice dubbed by Carl Banas.

After that, Richard Hunt made the character his own. Hunt gave life to Sweetums throughout the run of The Muppet Show and in the first two theatrical Muppet films. Beginning around 1987, John Henson began to take on the puppeteering duties of Sweetums with the dialogue being looped by Richard Hunt, due to Hunt's quickly deteriorating health. After Hunt's death in 1992, Henson became the full-time performer of the character, appearing at tributes and other events in the 1990s. In 1996, Henson had his first full-fledged screen credit in the role for his work in Muppet Treasure Island.

Sweetums' performer uses his right arm to either operate the mouth or the right arm. When the right arm moves, the mouth can't move on its own, and vice versa. Usually, whenever Sweetums moves his mouth, his right arm is pinned to his body or stuffed and hung to just swing freely. The eyes and eyebrows move by remote control.

Muppet-Vision 3-D combines the work of more than 3 performers to bring Sweetums to life in the show. Richard Hunt voiced the character in the production, while John Henson performed the puppet in the on-screen footage. Additionally a trained Disney Park cast member is needed to perform the character (to Hunt's pre-recorded audio) in each show as Sweetums comes out into the theater. Jim Henson: The Works commented on the work involved in filming Sweetums' 3-D paddleball trick, explaining that:

"for the 3-D illusion to work, the paddleball had to hit precisely the right spot during shooting. John Henson had practiced hitting the ball correctly for days. But when he got into the Sweetums costume, which almost totally restricted his vision, he was completely unable to see the spot! Luckily, he hit it on the first take."
―{{{2}}}

The performer can only see out by looking through the puppet's mouth.[1]

Casting history

Main performers

Alternate performers

Filmography

Video game appearances

Book appearances

Sources

  1. Eastman, Ben Muppets from Space: The Making of Muppet Movie Magic page 22
  2. Muppetmindset interview with Matt Vogel
  3. Yerrid, Victor An Interview with Victor Yerrid. The Muppet Newsflash. August 2007.

External links

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