Gonzo (aka Gonzo the Great or The Great Gonzo) is a puppet character, one of Jim Henson's Muppets. He was developed and performed by Dave Goelz. The character made his first appearance in a 1970 Christmas special entitled "The Great Santa Claus Switch". Known as a "Whatever" (or a "Weirdo" on Muppet Babies), he is considered one of The Frackles. Since his character lived in a cigar box, he was called the "Cigar Box Frackle". He is voiced by Russi Taylor in Jim Henson's Muppet Babies and by Hal Rayle in the ill-fated Little Muppet Monsters. He recently appeared in the primere episode of Studio DC: Almost Live. In the 1999 film Muppets From Space it is revealed that he is an alien from a distant planet in space and he meets his alien family for the first time.
Unlike most of the central Muppets characters, Gonzo is an unknown species who sports a bizarre, non-human appearance, which includes blue fur, bug-eyes, and a long, hooked nose. In The Muppet Show he performed as a performance artist, stuntman and daredevil under the name "The Great Gonzo" (or "Gonzo the Great"). Some people believe that he is an ailen, others call him a 'weirdo'. He takes pride in his iconoclasm, while romantically pursuing Camilla the chicken (also a Muppet). In fact, Gonzo is friend to all chickens and is considered the show's expert on the species. In his early performances, Gonzo often complained about the people who did not appreciate his "art".
A running gag related to Gonzo is that it is not clear what species he is supposed to be, though some say he resembles a buzzard. John Cleese, in his appearance on the show, referred to him as "the ugly, disgusting little blue creature who catches cannonballs". In The Muppet Movie, Kermit, while having his inner conversation, says "And a thing, whatever Gonzo is. He's a little like a turkey.", to which his inner self replied "Yeah, a little like a turkey, but not much." In the film The Great Muppet Caper, he is shipped to England in a crate labeled "Whatever" (while Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear are respectively labeled "Frog" and "Bear"). In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Gonzo played a Tin Man-ish character primarily known as the "Tin Thing". In Muppet Babies, Gonzo (voice of Russi Taylor) was simply referred to as a "weirdo" or "blue weirdo". He has referred to himself as a "whatever", resigned to ignorance of his actual species. In one episode, he dreams that he is an anteater. In Muppets from Space, it is revealed that Gonzo is an alien. It is not clear whether this is to be considered a canonical statement of Gonzo's origins.
In the first season of The Muppet Show, the character had sad and immobile eyes. The producers noticed that he worked better in a more energetic form and modified the eyes to have movable eyelids which helped make him a more active character. As such, he became one of the principal characters in the series. Gonzo is known for his wild-eyed, optimistic attitude, yet he is also something of an intellectual. In his revised incarnation, Gonzo, rather than feeling misunderstood by the audience, was dedicated to performing for its own sake, regardless of audience reaction. In one episode, after Kermit decides to cancel a jousting sketch, Gonzo, in armor for the sketch, forces Kermit, at lance-point, to reverse the decision. Floyd Pepper, also in armor for the sketch, observes the exchange with amusement, then asks Gonzo, regarding the sketch, "Do you really think this will work?" Gonzo replies "No! Isn't it great?!" Several of Gonzo's stunts have often gone wrong or do actually work in wrong ways. One notable stunt involves him catapulting himself into the balcony box of Statler & Waldorf, but the catapult broke down and in his attempt to fix it, Kermit and Miss Piggy are sent flying instead, Gonzo claiming that they stole his act. Statler and Waldorf have actually been victim to several of Gonzo's stunts including a motorcycle stunt in which Gonzo intends to drive a motorcycle off a ramp into the box of the hecklers (who are chained to their seats by Gonzo). Although the stunt works, Gonzo loses control of his bike and crashes it into the box, knocking the men unconscious.
His most well-known running gag is playing the final trumpet note of the opening The Muppet Show theme with unexpected results (the trumpets bell might explode, spray water, inflate a balloon, etc). In the first season, Gonzo did not use a trumpet, but instead attempted to hit the white space within the "O" in the The Muppet Show sign like a gong, usually with negative results. In the episode number 48 of the series - John Cleese is the special guest - Gonzo successfully hits the note with his trumpet.
He has several memorable performances such as his song from The Muppet Movie, "I'm Going to Go Back There Some Day", or his rendition of "My Way". Gonzo fans would also recognize the quote, "I shall now eat a rubber tire to the music of The Flight of the Bumblebee...music, maestro!" Another famous performance is best summed up by his quote, "I shall now defuse this highly explosive bomb while simultaneously, and at the same time, reciting from the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley". Other acts include: tap-dancing "Top Hat" in a vat of oatmeal, hypnotizing chickens, catching cannonballs (Waldorf: "I've seen a lot of cannonball catching acts, but that one had something different. A survivor!") and being hammered feet first into a railway tie by two American Gladiators. He also played the part of Charles Dickens in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Baby Gonzo is one of the cartoon characters featured in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.