Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Performer ofGonzo, Dr Bunsen Honeydew, Beauregard, Waldorf (1992-present), Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt

It is often said that Muppets take after their Muppeteers. Richard Hunt based his energetic portrayal of Scooter on himself as a kid and Jim Henson could relate himself very well to Rowlf. The same could be said about Dave Goelz, one of the few Muppeteers who started on The Muppet Show who still remains an active Muppeteer today. While he puppeteers a fair share of Muppets like professor Bunson Honeydew and Boober Fraggle his best known Muppet role has to be the daredevil plumber, Gonzo.

Just like Gonzo, Goelz also started as a bit sad, timid and felt out of place in a cast consisting of puppeteering veterans like Jim Henson and Frank Oz. This slowly changed when he got his first laugh from the rest of the cast at the end of the first season. In the second season he got his second laugh from his colleagues but felt that the always sad looking Gonzo Muppet held his performances back. Due to his droopy eyelids he could never look excited. He subsequently build a new Gonzo with an eyelid mechanism that allowed him to look excited for his daring acts.

Using this new puppet Goelz started to gain more confidence in his performing skills and shaped Gonzo more into the frantic daredevil we know today.In later seasons Goelz also started puppeteering Beauregard although the Muppet writers never found a “hook” for him, possibly due to his passive nature.
When Fraggle Rock was being developed Goelz was cast as Boober Fraggle. According to Goelz, the Fraggles were based on its performers: They looked at the performers, and picked out our flaws, and made characters out of them. They denied it... So that's how I ended up with Boober, the superstitious, paranoid character.“ Goelz was also cast as Uncle Traveling Matt and performed a host of other minor characters.

Besides his work on Muppet Productions Goelz also worked on other big Henson projects like The Dark Crystal where he played SkekUng and Fizzgig, Labyrinth where he played Sir Didymus and the ABC comedy Dinosaurs where he operated the face of Earl Sinclair as well as a variety of hand puppets.

In the nineties Goelz rose to prominence and even recieved top billing  as Muppeteer when Gonzo got bigger parts in movies like The Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island. Goelz got often paired with Steve Whitmire, who performed Rizzo, a character who would form a duo with Gonzo for much of the decade. Gonzo and Whitmire are also the current performers of Statler and Waldorf, with Goelz inheriting the part of Waldorf after Jim Henson's death.
Interestingly enough Goelz is one of the few core Muppeteers that didn't have a big time character on Sesame Street, although he did play several smaller parts.

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