Wednesday, October 15, 2014

N Is for Nutty Bird

This week, I'm highlighting another character Jim Henson created for a series of commercials. Actually, it's a double-act. This guy, Nutty Bird, appeared in three ads for Royal Crown Cola in 1966, going crazy over RC to the annoyance of Sour Bird. This character dynamic--the extremes of the enthusiastic pitchman and doubting straight man--was one of Jim Henson's specialties from the beginning; in a way, this is like a bird version of his old Wilkins Coffee ads starring Wilkins (who loved coffee) and Wontkins (who won't give it a chance), but without the explosions and crazy violence. It's the same dynamic he ingrained in Bert and Ernie.

I'm not sure which is the first of these, but this one's short and sweet.

Here are two more on one video.

Fun stuff! There was a fourth commercial, but it seems not to have survived.

Nutty Bird and Sour Bird were both live hand puppets, and they both have Jim Henson's voice, so I'm not sure which character he's actually performing and who is performing the other one. (Frank Oz, maybe?)

As you can probably tell, elements of Nutty Bird's design were incorporated, three years later, into Big Bird. Which makes Big Bird a combination of Nutty Bird and the walkaround Muppet concept of Delbert the La Choy Dragon. I admire Jim's creativity and the way he would use commercials as, basically, paid experiments that would bring us some of the most beloved Muppet characters. That's part of why I love watching these old Muppet commercials. (The other part, of course, being that they're fun as heck.)

ABC Wednesday


Powell River Books said...

Such a talented man. I remember liking to drink Royal Crown Cola as a kid. - Margy

Roger Owen Green said...

"RC Cola, Royal Crown!" I liked it, actually, if I remember correctly.

Trubes said...

I don't think we've ever had RC Cola in the UK...I just love Nutty Bird .....
Jim Henson was a Master in his creations, so many of them, I loved Fossie Bear, Ralph, Mad Harry, Kermit and Piggy the whole concept of Sesame St and The Muppets was just brilliant

Di x


Carrie Van Horn said...

Another one of Jim's wonderful creations. :-)

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

Jim went too soon. Such a creative man. You made a great choice for "n". Enjoyed your insight into his use of commercials for developing characters.