Basic Background Info
Animal was an original member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the Muppet rock band created specifically for Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show. Although designer Michael Frith conceived most of the band members, Jim Henson himself created Animal.
Dr. Teeth is a cross between Dr. John and Elton John, Sgt. Floyd Pepper was based on the Beatle’s album, and Janice was originally a male Muppet of Mick Jagger. Animal, however, is not a clear caricature of any real musician, though it has been speculated that he may be loosely based on The Who’s Keith Moon.
Typically, Animal appeared on stage chained to his drum set in an attempt to tame his violent musical outbursts. When not in his band uniform, Animal wore football pads (perhaps for the same purpose). Despite Animal’s wild antics, he is an excellent drummer. In the legendary drum-off between Animal and Buddy Rich, producers had Ronnie Verrell play the actual instrument. He held his own, but ultimately was unable to best Buddy. In an act of rage, Animal lobbed his bass drum onto Buddy Rich’s head (an allusion to a face-off between Rich and Gene Krupa). Nonetheless, during an interview by Kermit the Frog in an earlier episode, Animal named Buddy Rich as one of his idols.
Despite a reputation of being a handful to work with, Animal has had the amazing fortune to perform with an enviable amount of famous musicians such as Harry Belafonte and Rita Moreno, though it hasn't always been easy. For instance, during Rita Moreno’s performance of Fever on The Muppet Show, Animal repeatedly interrupted her until she slammed his head between a pair of cymbals. He has also appeared with Dudley Moore, Jim Nabors, and in a Renault Clio commercial with French footballer Thierry Henry.
Animal’s speaking was similar to his drum style--loud. Frank Oz provided Animal’s voice through 1999. Oz said that his repertoire consisted of five words: sex, sleep, food, drums, and pain. From time to time, Animal confuses the eating of his drums with the beating his drums.
Animal is also known to be an unabashed woman-chaser (he screams “WOOO-MAAAAN!” as he darts after them). In Muppets from Space, he chases Kathy Griffin until she turns around and starts chasing him with promises of settling down, buying a house, and having children together.
Despite Animal’s primitive vocabulary, he has a deep appreciation for fine Impressionist art and was very upset in The Great Muppet Caper about a missing Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He eventually ate through metal bars to hunt down the villains. As Frank Oz said, “You don’t mess with Animal. He eats glass, man."
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