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Also Known As: Richard Frank Oznowicz Died:
Born: May 25, 1944 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hereford, England, GB Profession: director, puppeteer, actor, producer, screenwriter, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Because he voiced and operated several of the most beloved Muppets - Cookie Monster, Bert, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy - puppeteer Frank Oz firmly secured his place in pop culture history behind friend, mentor and Muppet creator Jim Henson. But always looking to branch out creatively, Oz moved into directing, starting with a co-helming effort alongside Henson on "The Dark Crystal" (1982), which led to a second career as a talented and success director of primarily comedies. Though he stayed within the Muppet universe for his second film, "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (1984), Oz branched out on his own to direct two hits, "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988). Meanwhile, he teamed with George Lucas to bring to life the mystical Jedi master, Yoda, for "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "The Return of the Jedi" (1983), creating perhaps one of the most memorable characters within the "Star Wars" universe. After losing friend and collaborator Jim Henson to pneumonia in 1990, Oz nonetheless maintained his legacy by performing his Muppet characters on a variety of television specials, guest appearances and throughout the long run of "Sesame Street" (PBS, 1969- ). Though he...

Because he voiced and operated several of the most beloved Muppets - Cookie Monster, Bert, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy - puppeteer Frank Oz firmly secured his place in pop culture history behind friend, mentor and Muppet creator Jim Henson. But always looking to branch out creatively, Oz moved into directing, starting with a co-helming effort alongside Henson on "The Dark Crystal" (1982), which led to a second career as a talented and success director of primarily comedies. Though he stayed within the Muppet universe for his second film, "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (1984), Oz branched out on his own to direct two hits, "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988). Meanwhile, he teamed with George Lucas to bring to life the mystical Jedi master, Yoda, for "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "The Return of the Jedi" (1983), creating perhaps one of the most memorable characters within the "Star Wars" universe. After losing friend and collaborator Jim Henson to pneumonia in 1990, Oz nonetheless maintained his legacy by performing his Muppet characters on a variety of television specials, guest appearances and throughout the long run of "Sesame Street" (PBS, 1969- ). Though he often had cameo roles in several John Landis like "The Blues Brothers" (1980) and "Trading Places" (1983), Oz preferred staying behind the cameras to direct eclectic fare like the Hollywood satire "Bowfinger" (1999), the heist thriller "The Score" (2001) and the black comedy, "Death at a Funeral" (2007), underscoring his unique ability to wear many hats.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Stepford Wives, The (2004) Director
3.
  Score, The (2001) Director
4.
  Bowfinger (1999) Director
5.
  In & Out (1997) Director
6.
7.
  Housesitter (1992) Director
8.
  What About Bob? (1991) Director
9.
  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) Director
10.
  Little Shop of Horrors (1986) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Zathura (2005)
3.
4.
 It's a Very Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) Miss Piggy/Fozzie Bear/Animal/Sam Eagle
5.
 Monsters, Inc. (2001) Voice Of Fungus
6.
7.
 Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, The (1999) Voice Of Bert/Grover/Cookie Monster
8.
 Muppets From Space (1999) Voice Of Miss Piggy/Fozzie Bear/Animal/Sam Eagle
9.
 Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) Prison Warden
10.
 Muppet Treasure Island (1996) Fozzie Bear; Miss Piggy; Sam Eagle
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began staging his own puppet shows at age 12, and was an accomplished amateur puppeteer by high school
1963:
Recruited by Jim Henson at a West Coast convention of puppeteers
1969:
First notable collaboration with Jim Henson, "Sesame Street" (PBS)
1976:
Created many voices for the syndicated series "The Muppet Show"
1979:
First feature was Jim Henson's "The Muppet Movie"; credited for voices, as a song performer and as creative consultant
1980:
Made his feature acting debut as a corrections officer in John Landis' "The Blues Brothers"
1980:
Performed the voice and puppet for Yoda in George Lucas' "The Empire Strikes Back"
1981:
First feature as producer, "The Great Muppet Caper"
1982:
Feature directing debut, co-directed (with Jim Henson) "The Dark Crystal"
1983:
Had a small role as a cop in John Landis' "Trading Places"
1983:
Once again voiced Yoda for "Return of the Jedi"
1984:
First screenplay credit and solo directorial debut, "The Muppets Take Manhattan"; also puppeteer and voice of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal
1986:
First non-Muppet feature directing assignment, "Little Shop of Horrors"
1986:
Voiced characters from the movie "Labyrinth," starring David Bowie; was directed by Jim Henson and produced by George Lucas
1988:
Directed "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine
1989:
Contributed Muppet characters to the short-lived NBC series "The Jim Henson Hour"
1991:
Helmed the comedy "What About Bob?" starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss
1992:
Debut as executive producer, "The Muppet Christmas Carol"
1993:
Signed a two-year deal with Limelight Entertainment to direct commercials
1995:
Directed "The Indian in the Cupboard," based on the children's book of the same name
1996:
Puppeteer and provided voice characterizations for ABC's short-lived "Muppets Tonight!"
1996:
Executive produced and performed in "Muppet Treasure Island," which was directed by Henson's son Brian
1997:
Directed the comedy "In & Out," starring Kevin Kline
1998:
Reprised his role as a corrections officer for John Landis' "Blues Brothers 2000"
1999:
Once again operated the Yoda puppet and provided his voice for the "Star Wars" prequel "Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
2001:
Directed the drama "The Score," starring Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton
2002:
Reprised role of Yoda in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones"
2004:
Directed Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick in the remake of Bryan Forbes' 1975 cult classic "The Stepford Wives"
2005:
Once again voiced Yoda in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," the final film of the Star Wars saga
2007:
Helmed the British black comedy "Death at a Funeral"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Oakland Technical High School: Oakland , California -
Oakland City College: Oakland , California - 1962

Notes

In May 1999, Oz received the John C Zacharis Memorial Award from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts

On the Henson legacy: "Something said at Jim's memorial was that he made good guys interesting. It's always the bad guys who are interesting. Jim's were good guys, but they were weird--just the irreverent joy he created was amazing." --Frank Oz in Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1997.

"In one rehearsal, I was working as Miss Piggy with Jim, who was doing Kermit, and the script called for her to slap him. Instead of a slap, I gave him a funny karate hit. Somehow, that hit crystallized her character for me--the coyness hiding the aggression; the conflict of that love with her desire for a career; her hunger for a glamour image; her tremendous out-and-out ego." --Frank Oz quoted in the obituary of Jim Henson in The New York Times, May 17, 1990.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frances Oznowicz.
mother:
Isidore Oznowicz.

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