This Kermit the Frog puppet was created by Jim Henson in 1955 for Sam and Friends. It is the first Kermit puppet, and it is made from Jim Henson’s mother’s old spring coat and a pair of Jim’s blue jeans. Henson used ping pong balls for the eyes. Kermit started as a lizard-like character and evolved into a frog over time.
A newer version of this Kermit that was a brighter green color began to be used in 1963 when color television became more common. Subtle changes to his collar and feet were made as newer versions of Kermit were created, but the Kermit we recognize today has not really changed since 1973. When creating Kermit, Jim Henson wanted a puppet that was more capable of expression than those made with harder materials. There is no stuffing in Kermit’s head, meaning the puppeteer’s hand is the only thing inside. This allows for every subtle movement of the puppeteer’s fingers to become a subtle expression change in Kermit.
Sam and Friends was a five-minute show that aired on the local NBC affiliate station in Washington, D.C., WRC-TV. It featured a cast of hand puppets created by Jim Henson and his eventual wife Jane Nebel that often lip-synched to popular songs or comedy records.