There have always been puppets, since the beginnings of time. Here is the story of a remarkable legend who went one step further to give us "The Muppets!!" Who doesn't love Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy, Animal, Bert, Ernie, Oscar, Big Bird, Gonzo The Great, Swedish Chef, Rizzo, and all the rest of the Muppets?? Here is one of my favorite pictures of Kermit!! Amongst my favorite QUOTEs from Jim?? Anyway ... the story begins ...
Jim Henson was born at King’s Daughters Hospital in Greenville, Mississippi on September 24, 1936. At a very early age, Henson took a liking to arts and television. He was very close to his grandmother who would encourage him to explore and utelize his imagination in himself and the world around him. At around age 10, Jim's father moved the family to Washington, D.C. Jim continued to explore everything around him and took appriciation in the world around him. While in high school, he took a great interest in puppeteering. He would perform with puppets on a local Saturday morning program. The next year would find Jim attending University of Maryland, where he was given his own five-minute show, Sam and Friends. His first performing partner there would also become his wife, Jane Nebel. The world of puppeteering, was about to change forever as the Muppets were born.
Jim's show introduced the newly born Kermit the Frog to the world. Jim added music, snarky humor, and technical tricks to the show and it became an instant hit which developed a large following in the area. The success of the show landed guest spots for Jim on the likes of The Today Show and The Steve Allen Show. Jim knew how huge it could become, but he needed sponsors. He began making humorous commercials to potential sponsors. The Muppets were becoming increasingly more popular and as they became more popular, Jim added another talent, and another talent, to the show. In 1963, Jim brought in master puppet builder, Don Sahlin and young puppeteer, legend, Frank Oz. They worked together to develop the Muppets' first nationally-known character, Rowlf. Henson's first taste of moviemaking was the Oscar-nominated 1965 short Time Piece, but at the time he preferred television to films. In 1969, Jim was asked to create charactors for an up and coming show for PBS, to be called Sesame Street. This gave Jim the chance to be more innovative and to expand his charactors. Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the 8-foot Big Bird, (my favorite later added, The Count!).. Were all created for the show and of course there was an apperence or two from Jim's greatest prodigy, Kermit the Frog. Sesame Street illustrated the Muppets' appeal to children, but Jim longed to entertain not only the children, but the adults as well.
In 1975, "The Muppet Show" began production recieving backing from London based producer, Lord Lew Grade, at his ATV Studios. It was exactly what Jim needed and wanted in a family appeal to entertain not just children, but adults alike. Born there were Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, and Rizzo, to name a few. The show was hosted by Kermit and featured weekly guest stars from the mild to wild. Guest included anyone from John Denver to rocker Alice Cooper. Awesome spin-off movies came as a result of the show include: The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppets From Space, which introduced a couple of new muppets to the family. If you haven't seen ALL of these - do yourself a per favor!
The 80's brought a new change for Jim as he ventured into a different approach to film. He collaborated with fellow puppeteer and friend Frank Oz, to co-direct The Dark Crystal (1982). He created Fraggile Rock in 1983, collaborated with Marvel Comics to create the Muppet Babies in 1984, and had cameos in both Into the Night and Ernest Goes to Camp. In 1986, Jim released another gem to the screens called Labyrinth. The film was produced by George Lucas, and starred David Bowie. Production of Labyrinth provided Jim another opportunity to do something he was always looking to do, make technological advancements in the field of animatronics. Both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were inspired by the artwork of British illustrator Brian Froud, and challenged Jim to develop elaborate three-dimensional characters with advanced movement abilities.
In early May of 1990, Jim was stricken with bacterial pneumonia. His wife checked him into a New York hospital, where he passed away on May 16, just 20 hours after being admitted.. He passed away leaving a legacy that remains untouchable!! Thanks for the memories, and what you gave to the world Mr. Henson! He was creamated and his ashes scattered over his ranch in Santa Fe, N.M. Leave him flowers and a message here.
Jim has a dedication in a specific part of Central Park.
The Muppets have one of the BEST websites I have ever seen...check it!!
see his California studio here (it used to be the home of A&M Records, and was built by Charlie Chaplin)
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending." ~ Jim Henson