Stop the presses! (And since this is the internet, we’re lucky, because we have no presses to stop.) A decades-old Muppet mystery very well have been solved! For nearly forty years, audiences have been enchanted by The Great Muppet Caper, only to be left mystified by who dubbed Nicky Holiday’s singing voice in “Piggy’s Fantasy.” It’s a beautiful, operatic performance, though Miss Piggy does publicly state the voice isn’t Holiday’s. But who is this masked (by Charles Grodin) singer?
Five years ago, when ToughPigs celebrated the film’s 35th anniversary, I (wildly) speculated on who could the mysterious singer could’ve been. I threw out a number of names, including Muppet performers, Placido Domingo, Jeff Goldblum, and even Meryl Streep. It was a silly piece to commemorate a very funny movie. I thought our readers would enjoy my antics. (At least our own Ryan Roe, Anthony Strand, and Jarrod Fairclough did when they covered the number on an episode of Movin’ Right Along.) Little did I know that one of them may have had the answer Muppet fans have been searching for. It just took a few years to get it.
Not too long ago, I received an email from a woman named Ruth Briggs, who had read my piece with her daughter, Elizabeth. She revealed that the singer was none other than her uncle, opera singer Stuart Kale.
According to Ruth, Kale was performing as a soloist at the English National Opera at the time The Great Muppet Caper was in production. When the song was to be recorded, the original singer fell ill, and the studio called the London Coliseum, where the company performs, asking for someone who could sight-sing on short notice. Kale took the job, and the rest is Muppet history. And if you hear Kale sing, it sounds very much like Charles Grodin’s infamous stand-in. (Or is that his sing-in?)
Unfortunately, when we asked The Jim Henson Company Archives to see if there they had something that could corroborate the story, we were told they couldn’t find anything in their archives. That being said, Kale’s voice is nearly identical to the “Piggy’s Fantasy” singer. It’s the closest answer we’ve had in forty years! And if we can figure out who Sesame Street‘s Proto-Gordon is, there’s always hope. If anyone has any more information on the matter (or if Mr. Kale himself happens to be reading this), I encourage you to contact either myself at the email below or our editor-in-chief Joe Hennes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d like to thank Ruth and Elizabeth Briggs for reaching out and sharing the story. And of course, I’d like to thank Stuart Kale for his incredible work and his likely connection to Muppet history. For now, I’m calling this case (mostly) closed. Unless, of course, Jeff Goldblum decides to shoot me an email…
Click here to wonder who the originally-planned singer was on the ToughPigs forum!
by Matthew Soberman – Matthew@ToughPigs.com