The MediaLog MediaFix: "Sam and Friends" (1950s/60s) featuring proto-Muppets

The Muppets are some of the best known and most beloved characters ever created. They have appeared in countless TV programs, films, and other forms of media for over forty years (for a listing showing just how extensive these appearances have been, click here). This MediaFix is a very early, pre-"Sesame Street" look at some Muppets, including Kermit the Frog, from Jim Henson's local Washington, D.C. show called "Sam and Friends." "Sam and Friends" was a five-minute program, airing at times once daily, at times twice, from 1955 to 1961.

The segment, called "Visual Thinking," is an early classic of Henson's Muppetry. Kermit is a square fellow who can't think creatively and is tutored in thinking "visually" by a hipster character with a voice that is familiar from later Muppet characters (although I can't now think of which ones). Clever effects, including some use of the letters and numbers that the Muppets would promote so effectively on "Sesame Street," make the piece irresistibly enjoyable. Henson apparently realized this, as he created additional "visual thinking" segments in later years (such as this from 1966 and this from 1971).

If you like this, here is another series of segments from "Sam and Friends," including a promo and a short skit in which Kermit interviews the Muppet doppelgangers of newsmen Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

(Length: 2:48; video source: YouTube)

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