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Dave Goelz (b. July 16, 1946) has been one of the lead Muppet performers for over 35 years, performing Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, & Beauregard on The Muppet Show, Boober Fraggle & Uncle Travelling Matt on Fraggle Rock & Rugby Tiger in The Christmas Toy. Dave also performed the voice of Subconscious Guard Frank in Inside Out.

Building Muppets/The birth of Gonzo[]

In 1972, Goelz met Frank Oz at a puppetry festival, & during a vacation in New York City, he attended the daily Sesame Street tapings. A few months later, Goelz showed his design portfolio to Jim Henson, & in 1973, he was offered a job w/ Henson Associates as a part-time puppet builder. His 1st assignment was to build puppets & design effects for a proposed Broadway show. However, the show was soon abandoned in favor of an ABC pilot, The Muppets Valentine Show, for which Goelz built characters & got his first crack at performing, playing Brewster, who he also designed.

Upon Goelz's return to California, he learned he was replaced by his electronics employer, so he set up shop creating puppets for industrial videos. 8 months later, in the fall of 1974, Henson offered him a full-time position as a builder/designer, & occasional performer in specials, while still letting him keep his industrial clients. Returning to New York, Goelz began work on The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, for which he built the new host character, Nigel. Working from sketches by Jim Henson, Michael K. Frith & Bonnie Erickson, he also built Floyd Pepper, Animal, & Zoot, the latter becoming his 1st major character.

In 1976, Goelz joined the rest of the Henson team and flew to London to begin work on The Muppet Show. In addition to reprising his role of Zoot and playing background roles, as in the earlier specials, Goelz was promoted to "Principal Muppet Performer" with the starring role of Gonzo. The puppet had debuted in The Great Santa Claus Switch, as Cigar Box Frackle, & had made brief appearances in Muppet Meeting Films & Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, with different performers. The sad-eyed creation was now given a permanent name & puppeteer. However, in addition to playing Gonzo, Goelz was still employed in the Muppet Workshop.

1990s to present[]

Eventually, following Jim Henson's very tragic, sudden death in 1990, & with Frank Oz continuing to focus heavily on directing, Gonzo the character & Goelz the performer gained increased significance, starting with the 1st new feature, The Muppet Christmas Carol. By performing Gonzo as Charles Dickens as narrator, Goelz (accompanied by Steve Whitmire as Rizzo the Rat, a pairing which would be repeated in subsequent productions) largely dominated the Muppet side of the film, & received top billing as "Muppet Performer" (a distinction which would continue through Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets from Space) "...when we did The Muppet Christmas Carol, [Gonzo] developed a soulful side. He played the part of Dickens, and I just loved doing that. It just paralleled my own growth. Jerry Juhl wrote it as a way of getting Dickensian prose into the movie. But the fact that he chose Gonzo was very satisfying to me. And I think it was because he saw me changing and I think he felt that Gonzo could change too" (Film Threat). Goelz also took over the part of Waldorf from Jim Henson.

Muppeteer Credits[]

See also[]

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