16 May 1990
May 15, 2009

 May 16, 1990.  That’s the day the world lost a very unique individual — Jim Henson. 

It’s hard for me to put into words the influence that the man and his troupe had on my life.  I spent my childhood watching everything Muppet.  I’m sure if VCRs had been available at the time I’d have worn out two or three re-watching everything.  I taught myself to be a puppeteer by studying Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  I had those hard rubber Sesame Street puppets from Playskool and Fisher-Price’s Muppet Show plush (which my mom re-worked into puppets) and I practiced with those things continuously always wishing that they were more like the "real thing".  From the age of three until I went to college I think my only plan in life was to be a Muppeteer.  When I started junior high my church hired a youth director who also had a love of puppetry.  I wasn’t "old enough" to be part of his new puppet group when it started but I was persistant and proved that I belonged there by their second practice.  I spent my teenage years hauling around PVC stages and trunks full of puppets.  Did I care that everyone thought I was a complete "dork"?… Not on your life, I was doing what I loved and I wore it as a badge of honor.  I’m not sure when I let the Muppet dream die but I know it was before Henson’s death.  I finally came to the realization that the only way I could actually make a living doing that would be to actually work for Henson.  When Henson died my friends pushed me to go to New York, to audition to actually become Kermit and Ernie but I just couldn’t do it.  As improbable as any chance would be I couldn’t stomache the thought of trying to fill those shoes.  From time-to-time my friends will still forward me audition notices for things like Avenue Q but at 42 my body just doesn’t have the stamina it would take for anything like that anymore.

Anyway, what was all of that leading up to?…  There’s an exihibition that’s touring museums through the beginning of 2011.  I won’t get to see it until the final stop in Chicago late next year (making plans now) but it opens next in Seattle on the 23rd of this month.  Click here for tour information on Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.

 

James Maury Henson

September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990

 

 

 I’ll end here with a very special performance of "Bein’ Green" from Henson’s memorial service in New York City…

[youtube]lrZyMptC2eQ[/youtube]

 

The Jim Henson Legacy

Jim Abell
Life-long toy collector currently collecting Hasbro Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Mattel Justice Leauge Unlimited, DC Universe Classics, DC Super Friends, PopCo Harry Potter, Zizzle Pirates of the Caribbean. Also into The Monkees and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Are you frightened, yet?...
Read other articles by Jim Abell.

 

 

 

8 Comments »

  • MisterPL says:

    I used to have a short list of people I aspired to work with. Jim Henson was high on that list. I wish I’d had that opportunity.

    The loss of Mr. Henson was as huge as it was unexpected. He went far, far too early but left such a wonderful legacy. I just bought Fraggle Rock DVDs for my wife and we can’t wait to share them with the kids. This stuff is timeless.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Henson. You are deeply missed but will always be remembered.

  • Zach says:

    I love Jim Henson. The wife and I just watched the Muppets Take Manhattan the other day. He is sorely missed

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    Great blog, Jim. That day remains only one of two in which I purposely wore black to recognize the passing of someone other than a relative…the other day being when Chuck Jones died.

    One question, tho…in that pic of Jim, who is the character in the top right? I don’t recognize that thing.

    Peace,

    Chip

    • The Tekwych says:

      Uncle Deadly! Lived in the basement of the Muppet Theatre. One of the last characters to make it into the Palisades line of figures (wave 10).

      Jim was an incredible man and his non ‘Muppet’ work should not be overlooked as well. From full body puppetry to animatronics, from radio control to miniaturization, Jim wanted to know how technology and art could help get the ideas in his head out in front of kids world wide. He was a Genius who changed the world around him and after him as much as Galileo, Michelangelo , or Einstein

  • Jason Geyer says:

    I was never much of a Muppets fan (except for the Muppet Movie; I loved that thing!) but I did appreciate Henson’s work. I think I was more bummed that day by the simultaneous passing of Sammy Davis Jr.

    Jim Henson *will* always have a special place in my heart for one project, though: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. I still lament that Palisades never got around to making these.

  • Veil1 says:

    I had all the plush muppets when I was a kid (still have’em but their hair is a little matted and eyes a little scratched up:) I really loved the Muppet show growing up. BBTS has their Photo muppet Gonzo on clearance right now. I’ve been really kicking around the idea of having a lifesize replica of Gonzo in my office (and taking pictures with the kids) It’s $80 down from $299…. maybe I will pick this up.

  • The Superfly says:

    Excellent blog Jim…it’s hard to imagine that he’s been gone this long. :(

  • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

    Enjoyed that, Jim. Thanks for letting us know about your puppeteering passion. Didn’t know about that. As I type this (and anything else I do at my computer at home) I have but to raise my eyes and look at 2 fun shelves of Palisades Muppets figures. So much spirit and creativity embodies in those characters. Thanks for the remembrance.

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