Thursday, September 24, 2009

The World Is A Little Better!

My tribute to Jim Henson

If you haven't read in my posts by now, I will catch you up by saying I have been a loyal Muppets fan since I was a little girl sitting in front of the t.v. set watching Sesame Street. In my younger teens, I remember watching the Muppet Show! I love all the movies. I still watch for Kermit, Miss Piggy, Cookie Monster, and all my favorite Muppet characters in t.v. specials and commercials, in Thanksgiving parades; and the minute I heard that The Green and Red Christmas CD was out, I knew I wanted it as soon as I could possibly get my hands on one! It is one of my favorites! I still even have a few of the albums I listened to when I was just a kid! Does anybody remember listening to these too?

Today I wanted to post about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, and one of the most well known puppeteers there ever was, loved and appreciated for his imagination and the magic he created artistically!

James Maury Henson was born on September 24, 1936, in a small town in Mississippi. His parents, an older brother, and he moved to the suburbs of Washington D.C. somewhere around 1946. He first began creating and performing with puppets during his high school years, for a t.v. station, WTOP.

He went on to college, where he first majored in studio arts, but then he went on to take craft and textile courses. He began working for a small t.v. show on WRC-TV. It is here where Henson's most well-known and beloved character, Kermit The Frog, and the name "Muppets" were born!

Jim graduated with a BS degree in Home Economics in 1960! It is while he was in college when he met Jane Nebel, who would assist Jim in his work, and later become his wife, in 1959. Between the years 1960 through 1970, they had 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. During much of this time, Jim made films, and worked in the making of t.v. commercials advertising coffee and milk products.. But all the while, he never forgot his dream. He felt his Muppets could entertain a much wider audience than just children. He felt he could entertain an audience of ALL ages!

In 1969, Jim was asked to join the team at the Children's Television Workshop, to work on the public tv show Sesame Street. The show, as everyone knows, is still a success today, and the rest is history! Jim and his co-worker/good friend Frank Oz, with a team of others, went on to make The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, movies, t.v. specials, musical productions, the cartoon the Muppet Babies, etc., etc... The list goes on and on!

Jim is highly credited with his work in the mechanics and techniques of puppetry and special effects. He went on to be an Oscar nominated film director, an Emmy award winning t.v. producer, and the founder of the Jim Henson Company, The Jim Henson Foundation, and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

It was in 1990, while working on a new film, when Jim began experiencing flu-like symptoms. Just about a week later, around May 13th, Jim went to a doctor who prescribed him NOTHING but aspirin, and sent him on his way. Back to New York, still not feeling well, he canceled a recording session he was to attend on May 14th. By 2 a.m. May 15th, Jim was having trouble breathing, and was coughing up blood. He finally decided to go to a doctor 2 hours later! He was admitted into the hospital at 4:58 a.m., but despite quick and aggressive treatment, Jim passed away just over 20 hours since he was admitted.. On May 16th, at 1:21 a.m. Jim died from organ failure due to infection, at the age of 53. Happening so fast as it did, the news was shocking and devastating to family, friends, and fans! Following Jim's wishes, no one was to wear black during the funeral services held, and a Dixieland Jazz band played a final number, "When The Saints Go Marching In".

Jim Henson's memory and impact live on, and will continue to, I'm sure, for generation to generation to generation! Jim Henson once said, "My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here." Well, no doubt.. He's done that! Here's a video that was made in remembrance of Jim. This was one of his favorite songs.

Update: Rumor has it that there MIGHT be a Muppet Halloween special in the making for 2010! I HOPE SO!!


June said...

My grown children and I have been fans of The Muppet Show and also Fraggle Rock for many years, also. A family friend of ours is a first cousin of Jim Henson. My son does a really good impression of "Kermie", it really freaks people out! Jim Henson is very much remembered and missed around here (and our friend looks so much like him!!).

cwa said...

Don't you wish you could have had a conversation with Jim Henson? I think his brain must have been wired just a little different than the rest of us because he had an amazing imagination. He created some very interesting characters. It was hard to believe that they were really just pieces of cloth. His creativity helped bring them to life and allowed them to live on beyond him. Thanks for reminding us how much fun he brought to the world. Blessings to you.

Lisa said...

Oh Beansie! I too am a life long Jim Henson fan! Sesame Street was first aired the year I was born so I have truly always had it! The muppet show was great!!! I even enjoy it now and love Elmo and Abbcadaby! Thank you for such a good post. In college I worked summers at a bank and the manager came in from lunch and said "Jim Henson died" I seriously wanted to ask to go home. I was devastated! He was one of the greats and we are so lucky his work lives on!
Hugs, Lisa

Shana said...

LOVE the muppets and sesame street and also had those records. I love the cookie monster. this is a great post lady!!

Heidi said...

OH how great, this was a wonderful tribute to him. I loved the muppets growing up, and tried on many occasion to sew up my own ;0) they didn't turn out to well, but I still tried. I love your post today, its wonderful.


CC said...

How lucky we all have been to have had Jim Henson in the world. Whatever would we have done without him and all his friends that became some of out most loved characters. I've loved Elmo for like always..he is just the sweetest ever. Thanks for such an amazing post. I really enjoyed it.

Hootin' Anni said...

I used to sit and watch Sesame Street with my daughter back in the early 70s. My hubby's favorite was Granny Fanny Nessleroad. I just think he like to say the words. Mine was the Swedish Chef and the old guys in the balcony [the Muppet Show]

And Kermit...his's not easy being green.

Boy you really brought on some good, pleasant memories. Great post.

Neabear said...

Yes I remember the Muppets and the Sesame Street characters. I watched when my brother was watching them. Plus my kids watched them too. I remember on time when my uncle and aunt were out here visiting with their kids who are the same age as mine(my uncle was 6 when I was born) and we had Sesame Street on for the kids. Us adults were more caught up in it than the kids were. We had to laugh at ourselves then.

Mary said...

My son was born in '81, so the Muppets were very big when I was a young mama with a baby boy! And you know I love Jim, seein' as he was a Mississippian and all! So tragic to have lost him so young. Can you imagine what great things he would have done? What a great feature and tribute.

Have a great weekend!

Leann said...

Hey there

I loved Sesame Street and so did our sons. Kermit has always been a favorite as were Bert and Ernie.

Did you like Mr. Rogers. Our oldest used to mimic him with a sweater and changing his shoes into sneakers:)

Enjoy your day!

Nancy @ La Chambre Rose said...

What a lovely tribute!

Keri said...

Very touching and very nice of you to remember him. He was very talented, and he is certainly missed. - Keri