Friday, January 11, 2008
Dick's Dog: Rowlf the Bartending Piano Player.
Rowlf: Stay away from women. That's my motto.
Kermit: But I can't.
Rowlf: Neither can I. That's my trouble.
An early creation and signature character of the fabled Jim Henson, Rowlf came to early prominence while appearing on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963-1966. With a world weary panache and penchant for beer, women and the piano, Rowlf was far from a typical children's animal novelty. But was such an adult edge too much for mainstream popularity? Or were the eccentric yet non-threatening personalities of Kermit the Frog, Fozzie the comedian bear, Gonzo the Whatever and Ms. Piggy the diva more palatable for the general public? Opinions may vary but one thing's for sure: Rowlf is Dick Lightning's Top Dog.
Rowlf: Yeah, bark bark!
Dog barks faster.
Rowlf: Uh-huh, wolf wolf!
A loner by design, Rowlf was never constantly paired up with a complementary cast mate a la Kermit and Fozzie or Gonzo and Rizzo. His introduction in The Muppet Movie finds him working behind the bar and ivory keys of a rowdy dive. The Great Muppet Caper has him playing piano in an empty, guest free hotel in England. On The Muppet Show, Rowlf would recite poetry and occasionally lead the orchestra but would never become a member of house band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. He would later show up in animated form on The Muppet Babies. Getting into various nursery adventures with Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter and Skeeter. A mix of bartender and blues pianist, Rowlf dispensed nuggets of wisdom while showcasing a laconic sense of humor.
Miss Piggy: I may be a nurse but I am a woman first.
Rowlf: No, you're not. You're a pig first. Nurse second. I don't think woman made the top ten.
Following Jim Henson's tragic premature death, Rowlf was all but retired as a leading or supporting player on the Muppet stage. Appearing silently in the background, Rowlf was a reminder and remembrance of the imagination and creative force of a man who truly left his world better than he found it.
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