By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Miss Piggy is finally getting the attention and recognition she desperately sought.
On Tuesday, the glamorous, fame-seeking pig secured her place in history when she and some of puppeteer Jim Henson’s other creations were donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
Twenty-one of Henson’s puppets from “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show” and other projects – including Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Fozzie Bear and the Swedish Chef – will join Miss Piggy’s longtime squeeze, Kermit the Frog, in the Jim Henson Collection at the Museum of American History on Washington’s National Mall.
Tuesday’s induction ceremony took place on what would have been Muppet creator Henson’s 77th birthday.
Puppeteer Henson, the creative mind behind the long-running children’s shows “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show,” died in 1990. His wife and collaborator Jane Henson died in April.
“I’m so happy to have my father’s work be part of the cultural heritage of this country,” said Cheryl Henson, one of the couple’s children and president of the Jim Henson Foundation. “When you look at these different characters, you can hear their voices. They are like living beings.”
Miss Piggy will be on view within the museum’s “American Stories” exhibition starting in March. Several other Muppets and “Sesame Street” characters from the collection will be part of a broader puppetry display beginning in November.
“The Muppets are very much a touchstone to my childhood,” said museum director John Gray, who called “The Muppet Show,” a comedy and variety show that ran from 1976 to 1981, “the best example of American vaudeville.”
Karen Falk, archivist with The Henson Corporation, highlighted the importance of Rowlf, a scruffy brown dog character created for a dog food commercial in the early 1960s who later joined “The Muppet Show” as a pianist.
“Kermit was Jim’s alter ego, but Rowlf was Jim’s alter ego without the ambition. He was Jim on the weekend, Jim in a hammock,” Falk said in an interview.