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Show History

Willard Scott and Jim Henson

ad for Afternoon What does Willard Scott have in common with Kermit the Frog? More than you might expect.

Jim Henson and the Muppets got their start on local TV. In 1955, WRC-TV channel 4 carried a show called Afternoon, hosted by Mac McGarry and Willard Scott. (Click on the picture to your right, to see a newspaper ad from May 1955.) Lawrence Laurent wrote in the Washington Post that the show included live music by the Mel Clement Quartet, singers Jack Maggio and Tippy Stringer, and fashion and food hints with Inga Rundvold.

Afternoon also featured Jim Henson and the Muppets. A young University of Maryland student, Henson works out the puppet acts "just by sitting down and thinking for a few minutes."

The show aired from 2:15 to 3 PM, Monday through Friday. The picture below is from Laurent's column in the Washington Post and Times-Herald, May 15 1955. We see M.C.'s Willard and Mac on the left, two Muppets in the center, and singers Jack Maggio and Tippy Stringer on the right.

the cast of Afternoon

Jim Henson, Jane Nebel, on Sam and Friends In addition to Afternoon, the Muppets had their own five-minute show on WRC-TV called Sam and Friends. This is an early photo of Jim Henson and Jane Nebel from those days (Jane would later become Mrs. Henson). An early version of Kermit is on the left.

Sam and Friends postcard To left: a promotional postcard from the Sam and Friends show on WRC-TV, channel 4. As always, Kermit is in the spotlight!

Now in the year 2003: Willard, of course, still works in television on NBC's Today Show. Mac McGarry also continues a long career in television, now in his 42nd year as the sole host of "It's Academic", the longest running quiz show in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records).

Jim Henson passed away in 1990. On September 24 2003, a statue and memorial garden was dedicated at his alma mater, the University of Maryland. Willard Scott spoke at the event. Read more about the ceremony.

Willard unveils the statue of Kermit and Jim Henson

Thanks to Bob Semmig and Kaptain Kidshow for their contributions to this article. You can read more about the Sam and Friends show on that site.


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