Original Kermit the Frog puppet given to Smithsonian

Image caption,
The characters first appeared on 1955 show Sam and Friends

The original Kermit the Frog has been donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington.

The muppet was donated by creator Jim Henson's widow Jane, along with nine other characters from the 1955 TV show Sam and Friends.

Some of the other muppets in the collection include early versions of Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.

Henson's oldest puppet, Pierre the French Rat, was also donated.

Jane Henson said the original characters provided five minutes of fun each night after the local news where they mostly mimed to popular music.

"I think people realized that if you put Kermit's face up there, it was just as powerful - we were mostly just doing it to entertain ourselves," she said.

The Smithsonian already has a familiar Kermit the Frog puppet made famous on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

But the original Kermit looked more like a lizard, made with ping-pong ball eyes and green felt from an old coat thrown out by Henson's mother.

Museum curator Dwight Blocker Bowers said the muppets would be a boon for the museum's collection.

"It certainly shows the muppets at the beginning of the career of a large family of entertainers," he said. "More than anything, I think it shows the genius of Jim Henson."

Bowers said the museum plans to have the original muppets on display by November in the pop culture gallery.

The Hensons are also to give the Smithsonian more puppets in the years to come, possibly including a Miss Piggy to join her amphibian boyfriend.

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