Jim Henson
(1936 - 1990)
Died at age 53 Birthday: Sep 24 Sign: Libra
He never saw a puppet show as a kid, and yet he became a master entertainer through puppeteering.
Jim Henson was an innovator, storyteller, performer, and puppeteer. Considered to have the most profound influence on children in his time, he adapted the ancient art of puppetry for television and film. He was a “Gentle Giant” and he wanted to make a difference in the world. Some of his memorable created characters include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Cookie Monster.
Jim Henson Quotes

  • “When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
  • “When I was a kid, I never saw a puppet show. I never played with puppets or had any interest in them.”
  • “Since the show was done in small bits and pieces, we seldom taped anything more than a couple of minutes so generally you could learn your lines.”
  • “The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.”
  • “Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.”
  • “Nobody creates a fad. It just happens. People love going along with the idea of a beautiful pig. It's like a conspiracy.”

In 1954, before entering the University of Maryland, he got a job on a children's show performing puppets that he and a friend made. One of the puppets was called Pierre the French Rat.

In 1955 on the Sam and Friends television show in Washington DC Kermit first made his debut. Jim created him from a spring coat abandoned by his mom and two halves of a ping-pong ball. He was named Kermit after two friends he had with the name Kermit.

He produced Sam and Friends for six years and married during that time a fellow student, Jane Nebel in 1959. Before the wedding Jim’s mom was not happy about time wearing a beard so he shaved it off.

In 1961 Jim hired his first full time employee, Jerry Juhl. Jerry said "What Jim (Henson) really wanted to do was to sing songs and tell stories, teach children, promote peace, save the planet, celebrate man, praise God, and be silly."

In 1969 he joined Sesame Street with Joan Ganz Cooney, who created the show. Jim brought to the show Ernie and Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird. Cooney once said about Jim, “ He was our era's Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, W.C. Fields and Marx Brothers." Sesame Street is in its 37th season and has been aired in 120 countries.

Big Bird is 8-foot-2 and since 1969 has been performed by Caroll Spinney.

John Belushi hated the puppets while they starred for a short period of time on the Saturday Night Live in 1975.

From 1976 to 1981 The Muppet Show was on the air for five seasons. A lively cast of characters included pigs, rats, monsters, chickens, a swedish chef, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Fozzy Bear, Beaker, Dr. Honeydew, Newsman, and the famous balcony hecklers Statler and Waldorf. Jim animated Dr Teeth, Ernie, Kermit, Link Hogthrob, Newsman, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, and Waldorf, At its peak it had 235 million viewers watching it around the world.

Guests on the Muppet Show included Steve Martin, Elton John, Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, Peter Sellers, John Cleese, George Burns, Sylvester Stallone, John Denver, Dizzy Gillespie, Johny Cash, Paul Simon, Carol Burnett, and Gilda Radner.

Frank Oz said: "He envisioned a world where bears could tell jokes, chickens could sing, pigs could be stars, and they all could ride bicycles."

Famous Pigs in Space include Miss Piggy, Dr. Strangepork, and Capt. Hogthrob all riding in the ship Swinetrek.

In 1987 he was inducted into the Television Academy's Hall of Fame.

He was a three-time Emmy winner. In relation, Marcel Marceau was also an Emmy winner and Katharine Hepburn made performances with puppets as a teen.

A TV special was produced in 1990 called after Jim died called “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson” where Muppets paid tribute to Henson with interviews from Steven Spielberg and Ray Charles.

Regarding: KERMIT the Frog

Kermit the Frog Quotes
“How important are the visual arts in our society? I feel strongly that the visual arts are of vast and incalculable importance. Of course I could be prejudiced. I am a visual art.”

"I don't know who Jim Henson is, but I've heard he has his hand in a lot of things around here."

The Rainbow Connnection, written by Kenny Ascher and Paul William
Here are the lyrics used in the opening of the Muppet Movie and sung by Kermit the Frog:

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa

Kermit the Frog in 2005 stated a worldwide "tour" celebrating his 50 years in show business. As apart of his travels he visited the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

May 16, 1990: On Friday he thought he had a light case of the Flu with a head cold, but by Tuesday morning when he was coughing up blood he finally decided to go to the hospital. When he arrived they found out he had a severe bacterial infection (streptococcus pneumonia). After being given antibiotics his kidneys started to fail and he had two cardiac arrests. Just before his third arrest he died at the hospital. If he had arrived at the hospital six to eight hours prior he would have been alive today.

A service was held at Manhattan's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Over 5,000 colorfully dressed fans were in attendance all waving hand-painted butterflies. Richard Curtis who’s observation of the funeral said "At the end of (the funeral)...Frank Oz was talking and he suddenly lifted up Kermit's puppet and started to sing this song called 'One Voice'. And it turned out that all the guys in the memorial service had brought their puppets with them, and they lifted them up, and when you turned around and looked backwards there were fifty puppets all singing. And Big Bird walked down the aisle of Saint Paul's Cathedral, and they all came forward and just this massive chorus of puppets all singing...It was an extraordinary thing..."

He was then cremated and scattered at his ranch in Santa Fe NM.

Before his death he worked on setting in motion the sale of his company to the Walt Disney Company. The transaction didn’t happen until 14 years later in April 2004.