Monday, February 20, 2012

Debut: The Muppet Show season 2
Performer: Richard Hunt (1977-1991)
Steve Whitmire (1992-present)

Beaker is undoubtedly one of the most popular Muppets. A great accomplishment for a Muppet who can't even speak. Making his debut in the second season of the Muppet Show as the assistent (or more like the guinea pig) of Dr. Bunson Honeydew Beaker has been on the recieving end of failed inventions like nose warmers, shrinking pills and banana sharpers.

Beaker was performed by Richard Hunt untill his death in 1991. His role was subsequently taken over by Steve Whitmire who confessed he had a little trouble performing his inherited role:"Beaker was difficult because I had no clue where it came from in Richard. I didn't know at all how Richard did this. The truth is, I still don't know where it came from. I just don't know what part of Richard it came from... What facet of his personality. I don't relate to the character the way that Richard did, so really, with Beaker, I'm doing an awful lot of just copying Richard. I wouldn't say that I've got a good handle on that character, but it's fun. It's a fun character."

His popularity in the Muppet Show didn't equal a lot of screen time in the movies though, as Beaker mostly performed in supporting roles. His part in the newest movie, The Muppets follows this tradition but at least gives him a chance to sing a Barbershop quartet version of
Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit alongside Sam the Eagle, Rowlf and Link Hogthrob.

However, Beaker is however part of a very special Muppets exhibit at Disneyland called Muppets Mobile Lab which consistss of a rocket-like vehicle driven by an animatronic Bunsen with Beaker sitting behind him. This vehicle drove through the park and interacted with the park's visitor's and encouraged them to take part in experiments. The amazing part of this remote controlled creation is that it can really interact with guests opposed to the standard animatronics used in the Disney Parks. A second unit, made for the Walt Disney World park is currently in production while the original will rotate between Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland.

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