Among its many pleasures, Muppets Most Wanted, the latest film starring Jim Henson’s famous puppets, features several celebrity cameos. A smattering of half-amusing, half-random notables appear in the film, including Ray Liotta, Frank Langella, and Celine Dion. They are a reminder of earlier walk-on roles from the Henson and Oz era of Muppet movies — everyone from Bob Hope in The Muppet Movie to Kelly Osbourne in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. In time for the new movie’s release, Vulture presents 20 great Muppet movie cameos.
Christoph Waltz as Himself, Muppets Most Wanted
While Waltz is great in most everything (okay, maybe not The Three Musketeers), his cameo in Muppets Most Wanted is especially funny since he revives one of the best Muppet Show sketches: “At the Dance!” In this segment, ballroom dancers waltz around, gossip, and make bad puns. But in this case, Waltz is so uncomfortable — his character is abruptly thrown into the mix of an already chaotic Muppets’ performance in Berlin — that he just lamely shuffles around. Pretty funny for such a charismatic, volatile performer.
Hulk Hogan as Man in Black, Muppets in Space
Hogan as an alien-wrangling Man in Black really makes no sense. But it is pretty entertaining to see Hollywood Hogan interrupt the film to cut a promo reel. He promises viewers that he will “continue to make your back crack, your knees freeze, and your liver quiver.” It doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t need to.
Neil Patrick Harris, The Muppets
Doogie Howser appears in the Telethon scene, answering phones for the Muppets. He winningly mutters, “No, I don’t know why I’m not hosting this” under his breath.
Richard Pryor as Balloon Salesman, The Muppet Movie
Richard Pryor’s appearance isn’t especially surprising, since most of The Muppet Movie is a Blues Brothers–worthy cameo pileup. Still, who can resist Pryor’s pushy balloon salesman, a carny-worthy hawker who gets Gonzo to buy not one, but two balloons for Camilla, his chicken sweetheart. Pryor’s hysterical: He looks left, then right, then gives Gonzo “a bit of advice”: “I have guys come here all the time. Sometimes they get a whole bunch of balloons for the girls. They go gaga for it!” And of course, Camilla replies with “Gaga! Gaga!”
F. Murray Abraham as Noah, Muppets in Space
Abraham’s Noah appears during the film’s introductory dream sequence, levels a hard stare at Gonzo, and blocks him from entering his ark. Then he pauses, nervously skitters out of view, and offers Gonzo an umbrella for the upcoming deluge. As usual, Abraham does a lot with a little, though his prop beard goes a long way here.
Josh Groban as Gulag Prisoner, Muppets Most Wanted
We don’t want to spoil who Groban plays in the Muppets’ new movie, especially given how quickly he’s ushered in and out of view. But trust us, once you see him, you won’t forget him.
Madeline Kahn as El Sleezo Patron, The Muppet Movie
Kahn may only pop up in the bar El Sleezo to reprise her schtick as Blazing Saddles’ Lili Von Schtupp. But still, who doesn’t want to see Madeline Kahn do Marlene Dietrich by way of Elmer Fudd? Besides, where else can you see Kahn interact with Kojak’s Telly Savalas, let alone Telly Savalas dressed in a black sailor suit?
Robert Morley as British Gentleman, The Great Muppet Caper
You may not recognize Robert Morley by name, but you definitely know the great, rotund British character actor. Morley, the Englishman who welcomes Fozzie, Gonzo, and Kermit to England, starred in such films as Topkapi, The African Queen, and Around the World in 80 Days. He’s a national treasure.
Joan Rivers as Perfume Counter Girl, The Muppets Take Manhattan
Before Miss Piggy shoved Rivers into a multi-tiered cake, the two divas commiserated when Piggy lost her job as a perfume saleswoman. Soon after that, they playfully attack each other with whatever makeup samples are on hand. It’s kind of hard to tell if Piggy and Joan are laughing at or with each other as they mace each other with perfume.
Quentin Tarantino as Himself, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz peaks late in the story when Tarantino shows up and pitches Kermit on how to spruce the movie up. He crawls all over a conference table, and rants about anime vampires and samurai swords. Tarantino’s Muppet cameo may be even better than his self-mocking appearance in Spike Lee’s Girl 6.
James Coburn as El Sleezo Owner, The Muppet Movie
Because of course James “Duck, You Sucker” Coburn owns a saloon called El Sleezo.
Dave Grohl as Animool, The Muppets
Since he’s already a living Muppet, it’s fitting that Grohl plays Animool, the Moopets’ version of Animal.
Steve Martin as the Dumb Waiter, The Muppet Movie
Watching Martin sneer and sigh throughout Kermit and Piggy’s candlelit date is pretty fantastic. He rolls his eyes with aplomb, as when he serves Kermit a bottle of cheap Champagne and offers to sniff the bottle cap for him.
John Landis as Leonard Winesop, Muppets Take Manhattan
Just try to keep a straight face when Landis, the director of Animal House and An American Werewolf in London, calls security on Kermit.
Danny Trejo as Himself, Muppets Most Wanted
Technically, Trejo’s role is bigger than a cameo. But since his scene in The Muppets was cut, and he is the subject of one of the funniest jokes in the new film (“Good night, Danny Trejo!”), we figured we’d let that slide.
Carol Kane as Myth, The Muppet Movie
The first time Kane shows up, she’s the punch line to a really bad pun. Kermit has to clarify to an El Sleezo patron that he’s not saying “Miss,” but “Myth, Myth!” Then, suddenly, Kane pops up in a black beret. Later, Kermit repeats himself (“Myth, Myth!”) and Kane reappears. Not exactly a sophisticated joke, but a good running gag.
Peter Falk as Tramp, The Great Muppet Caper
In The Great Muppet Caper, Falk delivers an epic shaggy dog joke that just builds, and builds, and then suddenly goes nowhere. After stumbling upon Kermit on a park bench, Falk insists that he knows what’s ailing Kermit. But after a long-winded story about a laundromat, mounting bills, and juvenile delinquent kids, Kermit pauses and tells Falk, “You know, it’s amazing: nothing you’ve said was right.” Then Falk tries to sell Kermit a watch.
Gregory Hines as Rollerskater, Muppets Take Manhattan
“Yeah, Kermit, what about the huggies?!”
John Cleese as Neville, The Great Muppet Caper
Cleese’s morose British fuddy-duddy is hilarious in the scene where Piggy tries to impress Kermit by showing him around Cleese’s apartment. While Piggy gives Kermit the nickel tour of Cleese’s home, he stalks them and prepares to use a fireplace poker as a blunt weapon. True to his Basil Fawlty persona, after he catches Kermit and Piggy in his linen closet, he sheepishly asks if there’s anything he can do to make them feel more comfortable.
Orson Welles as Lew Lord, The Muppet Movie
There’s no way to beat Welles’s appearance as a king-making Hollywood executive. The way he squints and rolls a cigar around his lips before offering Kermit “the standard Rich-and-Famous contract” is priceless. If only Welles had gotten such a deal in real life.