Before The Muppet Show, before Sesame Street, there was Sam and Friends, a 1955 series of local TV sketches created by a college student named Jim Henson.
Despite getting top billing, the star of “Sam and Friends” was not jug-eared Sam, whose round nose and bald head suggested Popeye. No, the show’s heart was an olive-drab, lizard-like creature named Kermit, who was sewn from one of Henson’s mother’s cast-off wool coats (that’s him, Sam, and a few other Friends at the top of this article, with Henson circa 1956 or 1957). The original Kermit had rounded feet instead of flippers, lacked Kermit’s classic crenellated collar, and viewed the world through a ping-pong ball that had been sliced in half and painted. Henson lined his creation with denim from an old pair of jeans.
Collector's Weekly talks to Smithsonian curator Dwight Blocker Bowers about the history of Kermit and Henson's other puppets, and gives us a glimpse at the collection of Muppet memorabilia on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Link