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Since the early days of Jim Henson's creations, the foam-and-felt performers have radiated a star power far beyond anything you'd expect from mere puppets. That's why they've easily attracted other celebrities into their orbit. The original Muppet Show, which ran from 1976 to 1981, eventually featured a Saturday Night Live-level lineup of guest stars. The movies, specials, and other shows that followed inevitably recruited an eclectic bunch of guest actors and musicians.
As we anticipate the premiere of yet another Muppet TV show, The Muppets (premiering on ABC September 22), we're taking a look back at all the stars whose appearances with Kermit and the gang still seem out of left field. Some are totally awkward (Sylvester Stallone! Coolio?), some are hilariously gratuitous (remind us why Katie Holmes was in Muppets From Space?), and some are surprisingly perfect (Danny Trejo and Celine Dion in Muppets Most Wanted). There is no doubt in our minds why these stars made their cameos, however. Being in a Muppet production looks like a joyous, if occasionally surreal, gig.
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Rudolf Nureyev (The Muppet Show, Season 2, 1978)
The most famous ballet dancer in the world at the time didn't demand much in the way of dignity for his appearance, despite Sam the Eagle's protestations. What we'd really like to know, though, is the identity of the immensely talented dancer in the pig suit for "Swine Lake." Watch this longer video to catch Nureyev being romanced by Piggy in the sauna, and then tap-dancing to a Fred Astaire classic.
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Elton John (The Muppet Show, Season 2, 1978)
Who are we kidding? Late '70s Elton John was made for the Muppets. Why else would he have written such a ridiculous song as "Crocodile Rock"?
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Alice Cooper (The Muppet Show, Season 3, 1978)
You haven't lived until you've seen the shock rocker do the cancan in a red devil onesie with a group of giant furry creatures. So. Metal.
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Liberace (The Muppet Show, Season 3, 1978)
Is there anything cheesier than a Liberace performance? Yes. A Liberace performance in which he cedes the piano to Rowlf, so the singer can get up and dance the Charleston with a man-size bird Muppet.
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Sylvester Stallone (The Muppet Show, Season 3, 1979)
If you thought The Expendables was Stallone's silliest project to date, you definitely haven't seen him sing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" with a lion in the Roman Colosseum.