Director/second generation puppeteer
, born Frank Oznowicz.
"...as a director, I can walk on a film and work 18 hours a day for a year – work my ass off – and people will see it and say, "Ah yeah, that was nice. That was a good film." They see one picture of me and one of my characters and they'll go apeshit. They'll freak out and say, "You do that character!"
The power of the Muppets, and the popularity of these characters, is so iconic in people's lives, that I had to distance myself from publicly. Not privately... Privately, hell, I'm with them for life and I love these people. They're my second family. But publicly I have to distance myself from it so I can gain a little bit of credibility as a director and not have the power of those characters overwhelm who I am."
--Frank Oz, on why he doesn't appear in photographs with his puppet characters.
As a performer, Oz was the LaChoi Dragon, Miss Piggy, Cookie Monster, Bert, Grover the loveable furry monster, Animal and Sam the Eagle for Henson, and Yoda in the Star Wars movies. Oz is reported to have retired from the Muppets around 2000, with only occasional voice work or Sesame Street work after that time.
Oz started out performing with the Oznowicz Family Marionettes in Oakland, California. He met Jim Henson at the age of 17, and soon got a job as Jim Henson's right hand man in 1963 (Literally. Oz worked the right hand of Rowlf the dog on The Jimmy Dean Show). A gifted puppeteer, what he really wants to do is direct:
* Kenneth Plume. "Interview with Frank Oz, part 3 of 4." IGN.com 10 February 2000. <http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/035/035841p1.html> (19 April 2004)