Sam and Friends was Jim Henson's first television show, a five-minute show that aired twice daily on WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. The show ran from May 9, 1955 to December 15, 1961.

The title character was a humanoid named Sam. However, of the surviving episodes, Sam's sole appearance is lip-synching to Louis Prima's "That Old Black Magic." A more enduring star of the series was Kermit, not yet a frog, and often performing in a wig. Other characters included the voracious Yorick, beatnik Harry the Hipster, excitable Professor Madcliffe, Chicken Liver, and utility players Hank and Frank. Other characters possessed more ephemeral personalities, and in many cases, their existence is defined only by photographs and surviving puppets. This roster includes Mushmellon, Icky Gunk, Henrietta, Omar, Moldy Hay, and the earliest Muppet star, Pierre the French Rat, amongst others. Characters were performed by Henson and Jane Nebel. Bob Payne joined in 1958 to substitute for Henson, who was traveling in Europe, and Jerry Juhl filled in for Jane in the final season.