When Alice Cooper became kid-friendly in ‘The Muppet Show’

If there is a place you would not expect to find Alice Cooper in 1978 it was The Muppet Show.

Granted, everyone’s favorite shock rocker had already established a Hollywood presence on Hollywood Squares and The Snoop Sisters. He hobnobbed with the old guard of the Friars Club, most of whom recognized his horror show on stage as an update of the vaudeville they all grew up in (and some of whom coveted his golf skills). But placing Cooper – who dealt in murder, mayhem and other nightmarish shenanigans – in the family-friendly setting of Jim Henson’s greatest creations just seemed … improbable, would be the polite word.

Even Cooper thought so.

The Muppet Show was the biggest show in the world at the time,” Cooper, who was a fan of the show, told UCR. “I saw it. I thought it was the funniest thing on TV. And [manager] Shep [Gordon] called me and he said, ‘They want you to do it The Muppets.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve just spent all that time making sure I’m the scourge of rock’n’roll. This will just dilute it. I don’t know – can we do it?’ Then I said, ‘Who was on the show recently?’ And they said, ‘Vincent Price. Christopher Lee.’

“I said, ‘I’m in!’

Cooper’s appearance in episode 307 of the The Muppet Show, which was sent Nov. 2, 1978, has become legendary. Cooper, appearing as himself, was introduced by Kermit the Frog as “one of the world’s most talented and terrifying performers.” He performed “Welcome to My Nightmare” and also appeared as an agent of the devil, promising the Muppets “fabulous riches and worldwide fame” in exchange for their souls. He also duetted with Miss Piggy on “You and Me”, the Top 10 single from his 1977 album, Lace and Whiskey.

Watch Alice Cooper Perform ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ on ‘The Muppet Show’

“I swear I’ve never had as much fun in my life as the week I worked with the Muppets,” recalls Cooper, who filmed his episode in London, which was home base for Henson and his crew at the time. “It was the original guys — Jim Henson, Frank Oz, the rest of them.” But most importantly, as Cooper came to learn, his primary collaborators were the Muppets themselves.

“After a while you start talking to them – and they talk back!” Cooper explains. “After three days, you’re in your dressing room and Kermit sticks his head in and says, ‘Hey, have you had lunch yet?’ And I say, “No. Do you want to have lunch?” He says, ‘Yeah, okay.’ They become human.” While setting up “You and Me,” Cooper made all of his suggestions directly to Miss Piggy instead of Oz.

“We’re practicing a song and I’m like, ‘Piggy, why don’t you put your head on my shoulder while we do this? It’ll be fun if you just lean over a little bit.” “Oh, yeah, good idea.” I said, ‘OK, let’s try it,'” Cooper says, chuckling at the memory.

Watch Alice Cooper Perform ‘You and Me’ on ‘The Muppet Show’

Cooper was part of a litany of luminaries who made guest appearances on The Muppet Showa who’s who list that includes other hit makers such as Elton John, Paul Simonliberace, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, Diana RossDebbie Harry and many more. John Denver even joined the Muppets gang in two holiday specials.

He has made many TV and film appearances since then, and he landed back in the land of children again in 2019, voicing the character of Alistair Coop De Ville for Disney’s Mickey Mouse Mixed Adventures and also guest starred on the Nickelodeon series Bubble Guppies.

UCR contributor Gary Graff’s book Alice Cooper @ 75 will be published in February from Quatro Books and is currently available for pre-order.

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