In this feature we highlight a single Muppet so that each week you can meet a new Muppet, check out it's history and maybe even learn a thing or two about him/her/it.:
Debut: The Great Santa Clause Switch (puppet)
The Muppet Show Season 1 (character)
Performer: Dave Goelz
Although now mostly known for his outlandish stunts ("I shall now eat a rubber tire to the music of The Flight of the Bumblebee...music, maestro!") and his love for poultry, Gonzo first appeared as a sad, timid character who always (tried to) hit the O of the Muppet show logo at the end of the opening theme, often with unexpected results. Although the puppet had been used earlier on The Great Santa Clause Switch, the reworked character named Gonzo made his debut in the first season of the Muppet Show. Having a perpentual sad look and a crush on Miss Piggy he certainly lacked the self confidence he gained in the later seasons.
Starting with the second season, a new puppet was used (build by Gonzo's Muppeteer, Dave Goelz) that made him look less sad and allowed his eyelids to move, creating the enthousiastic expression Gonzo now often displays. The second season also revealed his love for chickens in a sketch where Gonzo auditoned (real) chickens for an act. His real love would be introduced in the following season in the form of Camilla, who of course, is a chicken.
Although already one of the 'core' Muppets during the Muppet Show, Gonzo got an even more prominent role in the nineties, starting with A Muppet Christmas Carol, where he played the part of Charles Dickens. Since Christmas Carol Gonzo is often paired with Rizzo as seen in Muppets Treasure Island, the direct-to-video Muppets Classic Theater and Muppets in Space.
Gonzo's species has often been debated. Starting with The Great Muppet Caper Gonzo was named a "Whatever" after the crate he got shipped in in the movie. (Kermit got shipped in a "frog" crate while Fozzie got shipped in a "bear' crate) In the Muppet Babies spinoff, he was often classed as a weirdo however.
Muppets from Space attempted to clear things up, by explaining he was an alien. The originally planned ending however would reveal that Gonzo wasn't an alien. The years following Muppets from Space Gonzo was labeled as an alien but in recent years he reverted to his "Whatever" species. Both Gonzo and his Muppeteer, Dave Goelz have suggested in interviews that Muppets from Space was "just a movie" and that his designation is still unknown. In the new movie, The Muppets, Gonzo's a plumbing magnate, linking it to the first Muppet movie, in which Gonzo had a small plumbing company.