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Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"Eat what you want, exercise your prerogative, and
find a good plastic surgeon who gives frequent-flyer miles."
Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy in 2009.

One of the nicest Valentine's Day gifts my husband ever gave me, and there have been lots of nice ones, was the complete DVD collection of The Muppet Show.  I love the Muppets, and in particular Miss Piggy.

Although she began as a minor character on the show, she eventually became one of the central ones.  Despite all attempts to convey an image of feminine allure, she can instantly morph into her true cheeky and aggressive self at the least little provocation, which usually involves her paramour, Kermit the Frog.

Played by Frank Oz from 1976 until he retired in 2002, she is now voiced by Eric Jacobson.  She was originally designed in 1974 by Bonnie Erickson.  Erickson has stated in an interview that the character was first named Miss Piggy Lee, after famous jazz singer Peggy Lee.  It was considered both a joke and a homage.  But when Miss Piggy's fame grew, the "Lee" was dropped in an effort to avoid offending Peggy Lee.

Bonnie Erickson with Statler in 1975.
Photo courtesy of Wayde Harrison/Smithsonian.

On one episode when Herb Alpert was a guest, a sexy female was needed to interact with him.  Erickson took one of the three pig puppets, dressed it in purple satin with purple gloves and pearls, went to the "eye drawer" (how fun!) and pulled out those baby blues and.....ouila!  A diva was born.

Jim Henson and Bonnie Erickson making pigs.

Her father messed around with other sows, leaving her mom to raise the multitude of piglets.  Miss Piggy decided early on that was not the life for her.  She moved to the city where she took any job she could - selling gloves at a department store, walking a sandwich board for a barbeque stand, even doing an ad for bacon after winning a beauty contest, until she hooked up with the Muppets.  She learned karate via correspondence school to protect herself from overzealous fans (and she uses it aggressively at times).

Image courtesy of www.toughpigs.com.

She is always trying to get Kermit to marry her.  In The Muppets Take Manhattan they are finally married during the finale.  While Miss Piggy insists that this is the real deal, Kermit explains that they were both actors in a show and they were acting.  Miss Piggy explained on This Morning that they have to keep the controversy up because of the numbers of men who lust after her, so they have agreed to say they are not married when they are in public.

Miss Piggy seems to like to create some confusion about her name.  In one Muppet Show episode she is referred to as Piggy Lee, and ten episodes later she tells guest star Avery Schreiber that Piggy is short for "Pigathius" (sometimes she says "Pigathia"), which is from the Greek for "river of passion".  In a guest appearance in 2007 she stated her real first name is "Miss".

In 1981, Miss Piggy published her spectacular guide to life, which included fashion and dieting advice.  ("Never wear yellow lipstick."  "Never eat more than you can lift.")  This was on the New York Times bestseller list for 29 weeks, peaking at #5 in July of that year.

Published by Knopf in 1981.
German edition by Ullstein Verlag, 1984.

She also came out with an exercise video in 1982 - Miss Piggy's Aerobique Workout Album - not to be left out of the glut of exercise videos that were so popular in the 80s.  Hers was #206 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top LP's chart.  (I remember one I liked:  "Swallow, deep breathe, take a bite, chew, chew, chew...")

She attributes her success to "talent, beauty, intelligence, wit.  And Modesty." Accompanied by her pet poodle, Foo-Foo, she is the ultimate fashionista.  She insists that her frog does not want her to lose weight.  When asked about competing with thinner women for film roles, she states that she enjoys working with them.  "There's never a line at the craft-services table."  She also released her own perfume - "Moi" - in 1998.

Of course, in most of her movies she is the star.  So far she has made nine Muppet movies, including my favorite, Muppet Treasure Island from 1996.  Besides the Muppets TV shows, she has appeared on many TV specials with a variety of hosts, from Ed Sullivan to Selena Gomez.  Add to those commercials, music videos, and other guest appearances, and she has quite a busy schedule.

First Mate Piggy of the USS Swinetrek.

A remarkable career for a porcine diva born of necessity.  For 35 years she has been a role model for glamour and the steadfast pursuit of fame.  Yet she never ages.  Here's to at least 35 more years!

Unless otherwise stated, images courtesy of www.muppet.wikia.com

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