May. 25th, 1944
Hereford, England, UK
Frank Oz's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Richard Frank Oznowicz is a puppeteer and motion picture director. He created many of the voices and operated "Muppets" for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and he has directed movies such as Little Shop of Horrors and The Stepford Wives. He was born to puppeteer parents in England, who emigrated to the United States when he was five years old. Oz played with puppets from a very early age, started staging his own puppet shows at 12, and was an accomplished amateur puppeteer by high school.
Jim Henson met Oz at a California convention of puppeteers, and hired Oz in 1963. They worked together for decades. Oz performed an early version of the Cookie Monster for Our Place, a children's show that aired on CBS in 1967, and Henson, Oz, and the Muppets became cornerstones of Western culture with the debut of Sesame Street in 1969, followed by The Muppet Show and later a series of Muppet movies. Oz's Muppet characters include Bert, Grover, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Cookie Monster, Sam the Eagle, Swedish Chef, and most famously, Yoda, the oracle of wisdom in the Star Wars movies. Producer George Lucas gave Oz a great deal of leeway in designing Yoda's appearance, and the character's reversed grammar was Oz's idea.
In 1982, Henson and Oz co-directed The Dark Crystal, a fantasy told through puppetry. Oz alone directed The Muppets Take Manhattan, and later Little Shop of Horrors, where more than two dozen puppeteers operated an enormous man-eating plant-puppet. But Little Shop was mostly a live-action film, and its success made Oz a bankable Hollywood director, puppets or no puppets. As a director, Oz's credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What About Bob?, HouseSitter, In & Out, Bowfinger, and The Stepford Wives. Oz has also appeared in cameo roles in several films. He's the corrections officer who hands John Belushi his possessions as he's discharged from Joliet Prison in The Blues Brothers, and he's the cop who takes Dan Aykroyd's stuff when he's jailed in Trading Places.
Father: Isidore Oznowicz (puppeteer)
Mother: Frances Oznowicz (puppeteer)
Wife: Robin Garsen (m. 12-Dec-1979, two children)
- Was replaced by 'John Lithgow (I)' (qv) in the radio adaptations of _Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)_ (qv) and _Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)_ (qv). Lithgow also appeared in the Broadway musical based on _Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)_ (qv).
- Has appeared in many of director 'John Landis' (qv)' films as a good luck charm of sorts. He didn't appear in _Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)_ (qv) and Landis had plenty of bad luck during that film. In _Trading Places (1983)_ (qv) he plays a cop taking an inventory of 'Dan Aykroyd' (qv)'s personal items, ironically reprising his role from _The Blues Brothers (1980)_ (qv), where he took an inventory of the other Blues Brother's personal items, 'John Belushi' (qv), as Belushi was being freed from jail.
- Uncle of 'Michelle Oznowicz' (qv) and 'Jenny Oznowicz' (qv).
- Collaborated five times with composer 'Miles Goodman' (qv). _Little Shop of Horrors (1986)_ (qv), _Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)_ (qv), _What About Bob? (1991)_ (qv), _HouseSitter (1992)_ (qv) and _The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)_ (qv). However, Goodman's score to _The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)_ (qv) became unused and replaced by a score composed by 'Randy Edelman' (qv).
- Often works with 'Steve Martin (I)' (qv) (_The Muppet Movie (1979)_ (qv), _Little Shop of Horrors (1986)_ (qv), _Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)_ (qv), _HouseSitter (1992)_ (qv), _Bowfinger (1999)_ (qv)).
- One of his first performing duties for _"The Muppet Show" (1976)_ (qv) was performing Rowlf's right hand on _"The Jimmy Dean Show" (1963)_ (qv).
- Has directed two of his Star Wars cast mates in otherwise unrelated films: 'Ian McDiarmid' (qv) (Palpatine/Darth Sidious) appeared in _Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)_ (qv) and 'Terence Stamp' (qv) (Supreme Chancellor Valorum) appeared in _Bowfinger (1999)_ (qv).
- Though Yoda only appears in two episodes of the original Star Wars trilogy, Oz managed to make three movies with 'Carrie Fisher' (qv) by appearing with her in _The Blues Brothers (1980)_ (qv), the same year that _Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)_ (qv) was released. Then, in addition to working with Leia's on-screen mother, 'Natalie Portman' (qv) in all three prequels, he also directed 'Carrie Fisher' (qv)'s real-life mother, 'Debbie Reynolds (I)' (qv), in _In & Out (1997)_ (qv).
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