Guests for November 29, 2020

Ep #33 Fran Brill

Fran Brill

Fran Brill Kelly was the first female Muppet performer hired by Jim Henson for SESAME STREET.  During her many years there she won an EMMY AWARD and created the characters of Zoe, Prairie Dawn, the Countess and many others.  Her other work with the Muppets includes THE MUPPET SHOW, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE JIM HENSON HOUR, DOG CITY, THE ADVENTURES OF ELMO IN GROUCHLAND, CINDERELMO and ZOE’S DANCE MOVES with Paula Abdul.  Fran was also in Frank Oz’s documentary MUPPET GUYS TALKING.

As an actress, Fran appeared on and off Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons and was twice nominated for the Drama Desk Award.  She also played leading roles at many regional theaters including Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Mark Taper Forum, and Yale Rep.  Her film credits include MIDNIGHT RUN with Robert De Niro, WHAT ABOUT BOB? with Bill Murray and BEING THERE with Peter Sellers.

She had running roles on several soap operas and guest-starred on many night-time dramas including LAW AND ORDER and its spin-offs.  Her voice was also heard on hundreds of radio and TV commercials and the cartoon series’ DOUG and SHEEP IN THE CITY.

She retired, happily, on Sept. 30, 2014.




FRAN BRILL comes from a long line of dog mushers in Talkeetna, Alaska.  Growing up she loved the dogs but hated the cold….and the dog breath.  Seeking employment in warmer climates she hitch-hiked to L.A. and one day read an article about migrating waterfowl but decided not to pursue that either.  The next Tuesday while sitting at the counter at Walgreen’s having a cup of Joe (you could do that in those days) she entered a conversation with the older fella next to her.  Turns out that he was in the show business and regaled her with stories about the heat of the lights on a sound stage and how it was so warm that he needed to wear protection in the armpits of his shirts.  Intrigued, she asked if he knew of any work to be had and he said in the studio next door there were weird people holding dolls up in the air and talking to each other in funny voices.  Seeking the heat, Fran went in there and they all screamed “are you the female puppeteer we’ve been looking for?!!”  Without skipping a beat Fran said “Yup.”  She was never cold again.

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