Date of Birth: 25 May 1944, Hereford, England, UK
Birth Name: Richard Frank Oznowicz
Height: 6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
Has appeared in many of director John Landis‘s films as a good luck charm of sorts. He didn’t appear in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and Landis had plenty of bad luck during that film. In Trading Places (1983) he plays a cop taking an inventory of Dan Aykroyd‘s personal items, ironically reprising his role from The Blues Brothers (1980), where he took an inventory of the other Blues Brother’s personal items, John Belushi, as Belushi was being freed from jail.
Often works with Steve Martin (The Muppet Movie (1979), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), HouseSitter (1992), Bowfinger (1999)) he had plans on working with him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) when he was attached to direct the film.
The middle 3 letters of his car’s license plate are “PYK”, for Piggy, Yoda and Kermit. It is believed to be a coincidence, because it is a standard DMV-issued license plate, not a vanity plate.
Is a recipient of the prestigious Connor Award, given by the brothers of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity based out of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also an honourary brother of the fraternity.
“The Muppet Show” (1976) character “Fozzie Bear” is actually not named after Frank Oz, as is widely believed. “Fozzie Bear” is named after “The Muppet Show” (1976) builder Faz Fazakas.
Though Yoda only appears in two episodes of the original Star Wars trilogy, Oz managed to make three movies with Carrie Fisher by appearing with her in The Blues Brothers (1980), the same year that Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was released. Then, in addition to working with Leia’s on-screen mother, Natalie Portman in all three prequels, he also directed Carrie Fisher‘s real-life mother, Debbie Reynolds, in In & Out (1997).
Has directed two of his Star Wars cast mates in otherwise unrelated films: Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine/Darth Sidious) appeared in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) and Terence Stamp (Supreme Chancellor Valorum) appeared in Bowfinger (1999).
George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz’s performance as Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Was replaced by John Lithgow in the radio adaptations of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Lithgow also appeared in the Broadway musical based on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988).
One of his first performing duties for “The Muppet Show” (1976) was performing Rowlf’s right hand on “The Jimmy Dean Show” (1963).
1961: Met Jim Henson in Asilomar, California.
His mother was Flemish and his father Dutch.
If you look at a lot of the pieces on “The Muppet Show” (1976) that came from Jim, there was a tremendous sweetness about them, and that’s unique to Jim. Jim was never wimpy. He had a strength to his sweetness… that was great.
[On Jim Henson]: He envisioned a world where bears could tell jokes, chickens could sing, pigs could be stars and they all could ride bicycles.
[On “The Muppet Show” (1976) head writer, Jerry Juhl]: He was the person responsible really for the heart of the Muppets. He just knew the characters better than anybody else. He was brilliant because he could be funny but not nasty. He always saw the affection between the characters. Nobody else could do that kind of writing… He was THE Muppet writer.
[About the fame of Miss Piggy]: I wouldn’t like to be that famous, I value my privacy. Mind you, Miss Piggy enjoys every moment of it. If it were not for me, she would spend all her time in the limelight.