Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

buried treasure

Jim Henson, Frank Oz Took Pipes and Made Them Muppets

In 1964, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Don Sahlin, and Jerry Juhl were sitting around a dressing room at The Jack Paar Show, bored. They opened up a utility closet, saw a bunch of pipes, and decided, as, you know, people do, to turn those pipes into creatures. So they went back to their office, got some supplies, came back to the dressing room, and drew faces and googly eyes on the pipes, adding hair and beaks to them as well. The result, the muppet pipes — ancestors to the more famous muppets Henson would go on to create for shows like Sesame Street — survived the next five decades in a closet (that, until recently, was in Max Weinberg’s dressing room). Earlier this week, NBC added the pipes to the NBC tour, having knocked down the dressing room and given the former closet a glass front. Frank Oz, the only surviving member of the foursome, spoke with Jimmy Fallon and Meredith Vieira and Brian Williams about the pipes and the muppets' spirit of “affectionate anarchy.” But you can get a better look at the creatures, and inspiration on how to spruce up some boring old pipes, in the attached video.