Watch Blondie’s Debbie Harry Perform “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show (1981)

Do you dig songs about rain­bows?

The host of one of the very last episodes of The Mup­pet Show — Deb­bie Har­ry, lead singer of Blondie — does, and in 1981, she seized the oppor­tu­ni­ty to duet with Ker­mit the Frog on his sig­na­ture tune, “The Rain­bow Con­nec­tion” — its only per­for­mance in the series’ five sea­son run.

Many of us asso­ciate the folksy num­ber with The Mup­pet Movie’s pas­toral open­ing scene. This ren­di­tion trans­fers the action back­stage to the kimono-clad Harry’s dress­ing room.

Who knew her sweet sopra­no would pair so nice­ly with a ban­jo?

She also exhibits a game will­ing­ness to lean into Mup­pet-style ham­mi­ness, respond­ing to the lyric “Have you heard voic­es?” with an expres­sion that verges on psy­cho­log­i­cal hor­ror.

Mid­way through, the two are joined by a cho­rus of juve­nile frogs in scout­ing uni­forms.

A lit­tle con­text — these young­sters spend the episode try­ing to earn their punk mer­it badge.

No won­der. By 1981, when the episode aired, Blondie had achieved mas­sive main­stream suc­cess, with such hits as “One Way or Anoth­er” and “Call Me,” both of which were shoe­horned into the episode.

As cre­ator Jim Henson’s son, Bri­an, recalled in a brief intro­duc­tion to its video release:

…I was in high school and my father knew that Deb­bie Har­ry was, like, the biggest thing in the world to me. And he booked her to be on The Mup­pet Show dur­ing a vaca­tion week from school and he did­n’t tell me. We went out to din­ner the night before shoot­ing and they made me sit next to Deb­bie Har­ry at this fan­cy restau­rant. And I just remem­ber this whole din­ner I was just end­less­ly sweat­ing and all I knew was that I was aware of Deb­bie Har­ry sit­ting on the side of me. I don’t think I ever said a word to her, I don’t think I ever looked at her, but she did a great episode, she’s a great per­former and she’s a love­ly lady.

With punk per­me­at­ing the air­waves, the fan site Tough Pigs, Mup­pet Fans Who Grew Up laments oth­er guest hosts who might have been booked before the show end­ed its run:

It’s a shame Deb­bie Har­ry was the only mem­ber of her scene to make it to The Mup­pet Show. Can you imag­ine spe­cial guest stars, The Ramones, The B‑52’s or even Talk­ing Heads? … Harry’s guest stint reveals that the Mup­pets’ chaot­ic and tex­tured world has more in com­mon with the punk scene than one would ini­tial­ly expect.

The finale finds the Frog Scouts mosh­ing to “Call Me,” with a rea­son­ably “punk” look­ing, rain­bow-clad back­ing Mup­pets band (Dr. Teeth and the Elec­tric May­hem sat this one out due to their pre-exist­ing asso­ci­a­tions with Motown, jazz, and a more clas­sic rock sound.)

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Mup­pets Sing the First & Sec­ond Acts of Hamil­ton

Wit­ness the Birth of Ker­mit the Frog in Jim Henson’s Live TV Show, Sam and Friends (1955)

When Deb­bie Har­ry Com­bined Artis­tic Forces with H.R. Giger

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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