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13 Secrets You Probably Don't Know About The Muppets

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Muppet Guys Talking, a new documentary featuring some of the performers and creators behind our favorite Muppets, premiered at SXSW this weekend. Here are some of the coolest facts we learned.

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for The Muppets Studio, Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images, Mark Wilson / Getty Images

1. To record Kermit singing "Rainbow Connection" in the swamp for 1979's The Muppet Movie, Jim Henson was put in an underwater canister with a monitor. He was cramped inside it for so long, he had trouble unfolding his limbs after.

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3. Dave Goelz (who's behind Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen, and Zoot) creates his puppets' characters by finding a flaw within himself, amplifying it, and making it lovable.

Jim Henson Co.

Gonzo is "crazy but free," Bunsen is "specific but misses the big picture," and Zoot is "in his own world, but has no connection to anybody."

4. Because Fran Brill, the puppeteer behind Prairie Dawn and Zoe, is 5'4" tall, she had to wear 6-inch platform boots and sneakers to operate the puppets from underneath and be closer to the same height as her co-workers.

5. Grover is based on Fred, the dog of Grover's puppeteer Frank Oz (who is also behind Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Animal). Grover often tilts his head to the side just like Fred did.

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10. Fozzie's voice changed dramatically from the first time Oz voiced him in 1976 to what it is now. Eric Jacobson has been puppeteering the Muppet since 2002.

11. Pepe the King Prawn is based on Bill Barretta's wife's aunt. When a Muppet Show writer asked him to describe the aunt, Barretta accidentally described her as "shellfish" instead of "selfish," and the character was born.

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Barretta is also responsible for Johnny Fiama and Bobo the Bear.

13. Henson was committed to properly executing every aspect of his creations. During one scene with the Southern Colonel, Henson hired a teenage archer to actually fire at an apple on the puppet's head — despite the fact that he and another puppeteer were crouched down operating the puppet's hands when the arrow flew.

To learn more about Muppet Guys Talking, check out the film's website.

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