Frank Oz Biography

(Puppeteer & Actor Known for His Role of Yoda in the 'Star Wars' Series)

Birthday: May 25, 1944 (Gemini)

Born In: Hereford, England

Frank Richard Oznowicz, popularly known as Frank Oz, is an American puppeteer, director, actor, and voice artist. Oz is better known as the creator and performer of the Muppet characters such as ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Fozzie Bear’ along with Jim Henson in ‘The Muppet Show’. He also created the puppet characters that are loved by children and adults alike—‘Cookie Monster’, ‘Bert’, and ‘Grover’ for the popular children’s television show ‘Sesame Street’. Oz was born in England into a family of amateur puppeteers, which naturally gave way to Oz’s interest in puppets and the art of puppeteering. By the time he was a teenager, he found Jim Henson who took him along for ‘Muppets, Inc.’ and later when he created his own show ‘The Muppet Show’, several other small projects and movies like ‘The Dark Crystal’, etc., he always collaborated with Oz and made him his primary creative consultant. Oz has himself directed many movies over the years, like, ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’, ‘What About Bob?’, ‘Death at a Funeral’, etc. Oz is also known for giving the world its beloved Star Wars puppet character, ‘Yoda’ with its trademark reverse grammar style.

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Quick Facts

Also Known As: Frank Richard Oznowicz

Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Victoria Labalme (m. 2011), Robin Oz (m. 1979–2005)

father: Frances Oznowicz

mother: Isidore Oznowicz

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Frank Oz Actors

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

Notable Alumni: Oakland City College

Ancestry: Dutch American, Polish American

City: Hereford, England

More Facts

education: Oakland City College

  • 1

    When did Frank Oz start working with The Muppets?

    Frank Oz began working with The Muppets in 1963, when he joined the team of puppeteers for the TV show "Sam and Friends."
  • 2

    How many characters did Frank Oz voice in the Star Wars franchise?

    Frank Oz provided the voice for the character Yoda in the Star Wars franchise, starting with "The Empire Strikes Back" in 1980.
  • 3

    How did Frank Oz become involved in directing films?

    Frank Oz transitioned into directing films after gaining experience working as a puppeteer and voice actor, eventually directing successful movies like "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
Childhood & Early Years

Oz was born in Hereford, England, to Frances and Isidore Oznowicz. Both his parents were puppeteers. His Dutch-Polish father and Flemish mother struggled with the Nazi invasion and moved to England and later, immigrated to California when Oz was 5.

He attended the Oakland Technical High School and later went to Oakland City College. He was attracted to puppets from an early age and by the time he was 18 he had learned a lot about puppets - courtesy parents.

He met with Jim Henson at a puppeteering conference and Henson liked his work with puppets and a few years later, he asked him to join his Muppets team.

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Career

In 1963, he joined the Muppets, Inc. as an associate with ‘Rowlf the Dog’ and later on ‘The Jimmy Dean Show’. He was just 19 at that time. Henson and Oz performed as ‘Scoop and Skip’, ‘Southern Colonel and Nutty Bird’, etc.

A new program for children called ‘Sesame Street’ started in 1969 and Oz invented the characters ‘Bert’, ‘Grover’, and ‘Cookie Monster’, and performed them solely for many years. During this time, he also did minor characters, including ‘Lefty the Salesman’.

During the time between the start of ‘Sesame Street’ and the beginning of ‘The Muppet Show’, Oz was in almost every major Henson production—‘The Great Santa Claus Switch’, ‘The Frog Prince’, and ‘The Muppet Musicians of Bremen’.

By 1976, Henson grew exasperated by the constraints of working on someone else's program. In an attempt to gain creative control over his artistic ideas, Henson produced ‘The Muppet Show’ and Oz became the key creator of the show.

Oz created ‘Miss Piggy’, ‘Fozzie Bear’, and ‘Animal’, ‘Sam the Eagle’, ‘George the Janitor’ and ‘Marvin Suggs’ for ‘The Muppet Show’. He also wrote ‘The Rhyming Song’ and ‘Jamboree’ and was credited as a creative consultant on the show.

In 1980, George Lucas wanted a puppet character for his Star Wars movie, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. This work was assigned to Oz and he worked as chief puppeteer. He created ‘Yoda’ and was responsible for giving the creature its trademark reversed grammar.

Oz started experimenting with his directorial aspirations as he co-directed ‘The Dark Crystal’ with Henson in 1982. The film used the most sophisticated puppets ever used for a movie. Oz also co-directed ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)’.

He directed his first movie 'Little Shop of Horrors’ in 1986. The musical starred Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and a 15-foot-tall talking plant. The movie established Oz’s talent to direct films that did not include puppets.

Oz directed comedies like: ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)’--starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, ‘What About Bob? (1991)’-‘Housesitter (1992)’, ‘Bowfinger (1999)’, ‘The Score (2001)’, ‘Death at a Funeral (2007)’, etc.

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As an actor, he has appeared in movies like: ‘The Blue Brother (1980)’, ‘An American Werewolf in London (1981)’, ‘Superman III (1983)’, ‘Spies Like Us (1985)’, ‘Innocent Blood (1991)’, ‘Blue Brothers 2000 (1998)’, ‘Monsters, Inc. (2001)’, ‘Zathura (2005)’, and ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).’

In 2014, he made an appearance in the American documentary film ‘I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story’ directed by Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker. The film opened to a positive critical reception and earned an 84% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. The following year, he voiced ‘Subconscious Guard Dave’ in the Pete Docter-directed animated film ‘Inside Out.’ The film opened to critical acclaim and was a major commercial success, managing to bag over $858.8 million on a $175 million budget.

He has also starred in films like ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017), ‘Knives Out’ (2019), and ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ (2019).

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Major Works

Although Oz’s career has been versatile and he has not only worked as a puppeteer but also as a director, actor, and voice-artist, etc. His work, along with Jim Henson, with ‘Sesame Street’ is considered his top-notch one.

Awards & Achievements

Oz has received many awards for his creative talent. Some of these are News & Documentary Emmy Award (1974), Daytime Emmy Award (1976 and 1978), Primetime Emmy Award (1978), and Art Directors Guild Award for Contribution to Cinematic Imagery (2002).

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Personal Life & Legacy

Oz has been married twice: Robin Garsen (1979-2005)—the couple had four children together, and actress Victoria Labalme (2011-present).

Facts About Frank Oz
Frank Oz is not only a talented puppeteer and voice actor, but he is also a skilled director, having directed films such as "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."
In addition to his work with The Muppets and Sesame Street, Frank Oz has also provided the voice for iconic characters such as Yoda in the "Star Wars" franchise.
Frank Oz is known for his distinctive voice work, but he also has a talent for improvisation, often bringing humor and spontaneity to his performances.
Despite his success in the entertainment industry, Frank Oz has maintained a relatively low profile and values his privacy, preferring to let his work speak for itself.
Frank Oz has a reputation for being a perfectionist, always striving to achieve the highest quality in his projects and pushing himself creatively to explore new ideas and techniques.

Frank Oz Movies

1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

  (Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure)

2. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)

  (Comedy, Music, Family, Musical)

3. International Festival of Animation (1977)

 

4. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

  (Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy)

5. Don't Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983)

  (Fantasy, Family)

6. Julie Andrews: One to One (1975)

  (Music)

7. Alive from Off Center (1984)

 

8. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

  (Drama, Comedy, Family, Musical)

9. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)

  (Talk-Show, Comedy)

10. John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)

  (Family, Comedy, Music)

Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards
1978 Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Series The Muppet Show (1976)
Grammy Awards
1980 Best Recording for Children The Muppet Movie (1979)
1979 Best Recording for Children The Muppet Show (1976)
1971 Best Recording for Children Sesame Street (1969)
Recommended Lists:

See the events in life of Frank Oz in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Frank Oz Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/frank-oz-4279.php

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