"use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); Subscribe to the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. The Muppets, including an early version of Kermit the Frog, were born from Sam and Friends. Sesame Street: All Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! [16], Henson was also involved in producing various shows and animation inserts during the first two seasons. [citation needed]. He appeared as a guest on many shows, including The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Program, and The Ed Sullivan Show. "[27], The Muppets appeared in their first theatrical feature film The Muppet Movie in 1979. He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters he created: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. [45] The funeral was described by Life as "an epic and almost unbearably moving event". Another was conducted on July 2, 1990, at St Paul's Cathedral in London. [15] That same year, he scrapped plans for his Broadway show and moved his creative team to England, where The Muppet Show began taping. Well before his teen years, Henson was performing puppetry for audiences, including his fellow Cub Scouts. He produced The Cube in 1969. He died of pneumonia on May 16, 1990. The Sam Plenty Cavalcade of Action Show Plus Singing! "[17] The first seven-second commercial for Wilkins was an immediate hit and was syndicated and reshot by Henson for local coffee companies throughout the United States, such as Community Coffee, Red Diamond Coffee, La Touraine Coffee, Nash's Coffee, and Jomar Instant coffee,[16] and he ultimately produced more than 300 coffee ads. Brian Jay Jones is an award-winning biographer and vice president of Biographers International Organization. At a young age, Henson was drawn to the arts. James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was an American puppeteer, animator, cartoonist, actor, inventor, composer, filmmaker and screenwriter, who achieved worldwide notice as the creator of The Muppets (1955–present) and Fraggle Rock (1983–1987); and as the director of The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). By his freshman year at the University of Maryland, in 1955, Henson had scored a bi-weekly bit on a local NBC affiliate, Sam and Friends. In 1958, he co-founded Muppets, Inc., which became The Jim Henson Company. Sam and Friends, his nightly five-minute show on NBC’s WRC, won Jim an Emmy in 1958 and introduced Kermit to the world. Jim Henson was one of those exceedingly rare individuals with the drive, creativity and singular vision to change the world. As virtually anyone remotely familiar with American television knows, Jim Henson was the most popular children's entertainer of the 20th century, a gentle genius and master puppeteer who pulled off the… Read Full Biography. The first Muppet to gain national exposure, Rowlf the Dog, went from making appearances in Purina commercials to playing a sidekick on The Jimmy Dean Show in 1963. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! The series included Hey, Cinderella!, The Frog Prince, and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Matthew Henson was an African American explorer best known as the co-discoverer of the North Pole with Robert Edwin Peary in 1909. Henson's Muppets initially appeared separately from the realistic segments on the Street, but the show was revamped to integrate the two segments, placing much greater emphasis on Henson's work. [citation needed]. On May 12, 1990, Henson traveled to Ahoskie, North Carolina, with his daughter Cheryl to visit his father and stepmother. [citation needed]. Henson performed the characters of Ernie, game-show host Guy Smiley, and Kermit, who appeared as a roving television news reporter. Henson was having trouble breathing when he woke up at around 2:00 a.m. on May 15, 1990, and began coughing up blood. Jim Henson, byname of James Maury Henson, (born September 24, 1936, Greenville, Mississippi, U.S.—died May 16, 1990, New York, New York), American puppeteer and filmmaker, creator of the Muppets of television and motion pictures. He won the Emmy Award twice for his involvement in The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour. His moving yet celebratory funeral included a musical puppet performance. Er erlangte vor allem durch die Sesamstraße und die Muppet Show weltweite Bekanntheit. You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead (1999, Little, Brown and Company), Gloria Domina, James Cravero, Kevin Mackie, Patrick Robinson & Steve Pullara (producers) –, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "The Doctor's World; Henson Death Shows Danger of Pneumonia", "Paul Ransom Henson, Jr. (1932–1956) on FindAGrave", "Jim Henson, Puppeteer, Dies; The Muppets' Creator Was 53", "Muppet Master: An Interview with Jim Henson", "Moi? During the later years of his life, he founded the Jim Henson Foundation and Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Henson's legacy as a director, producer, writer, puppeteer and innovator has continued for decades to come, due in no small part to his wife of more than 30 years, the late Jane (Nebel) Henson. [21] Henson was cremated and in 1992, his ashes were scattered near Taos in New Mexico. But Henson's even bigger claim to TV fame came in the 1970s, with the debut of The Muppet Show. James Maury „Jim“ Henson (* 24. Jones also spent time interviewing many of Henson's colleagues for the book — including Jane Henson, Steve Whitmire, Da… He also worked on a variety of inserts for the numbers 2 through 12, including the films "Dollhouse"; "Number Three Ball Film"; the stop-motions "King of Eight" and "Queen of Six"; the cut-out animation "Eleven Cheer"; and the computer animation "Nobody Counts To 10." [46] He was dismissed from the cast in 2016, and Matt Vogel succeeded him in the role of Kermit. An Aggressive Infection, Abrupt and Overwhelming, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/17/arts/an-aggressive-infection-abrupt-and-overwhelming.html, This article is about the puppeteer. He released five studio albums between 1966 and 1973, before his untimely death in 1973. The Jim Henson Foundation is committed to supporting American puppet theater. See also. [22], Henson's talk show appearances culminated when he devised Rowlf, a piano-playing anthropomorphic dog that became the first Muppet to make regular appearances on The Jimmy Dean Show. [3][24] His nine-minute experimental film Time Piece was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1966. As a freshman, he created Sam and Friends, a five-minute puppet show for WRC-TV. [citation needed], Henson, Oz, and his team were concerned that the company was becoming typecast solely as purveyors of children's entertainment, so they targeted an adult audience with a series of sketches on the first season of the late-night live television variety show Saturday Night Live. He spent several months in Europe, where he was inspired by European puppet performers who looked on their work as an art form. [53], The moving-image collection of Jim Henson is held at the Academy Film Archive. "[39], News of Henson's death spread quickly and admirers of his work responded from around the world with tributes and condolences. The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Sing and Play, Elmo's Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf, Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration, The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover, Children and Television: Lessons from Sesame Street, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jim_Henson&oldid=1002314298, Infectious disease deaths in New York (state), International Emmy Founders Award winners, University of Maryland, College Park alumni, Short description is different from Wikidata, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Articles with unsourced statements from September 2020, Articles needing additional references from September 2020, All articles needing additional references, Turner Classic Movies person ID same as Wikidata, Articles using Template:The Interviews people, Wikipedia articles with CANTIC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with Trove identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Kermit the Frog (live-action puppet only), Henson is honored both as himself and as Kermit the Frog on the, Henson received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Fordham University, Rose Hill Campus, Bronx, New York (June 1982), Henson received the Golden Plate Award of the. Henson was born James Maury Henson on September 24, 1936, in Greenville, Mississippi, the younger of two children of Paul Ransom Henson (1904–1994), an agronomist for the United States Department of Agriculture, and his wife Betty Marcella (née Brown, 1904–1972). [8], Henson married Jane Nebel in 1959 and their children are Lisa (b. Other major motion pictures followed, too, including 1982’s The Dark Crystal, a groundbreaking film mixing puppetry and animatronics, and 1986’s Labyrinth, which was produced by George Lucas and starred David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. On September 24, 2011, Leland renamed one of their bridges "The Rainbow Connection" to honor Henson and his work. Documentary from 1994 celebrating the life and work of Muppets Creator and legendary puppeteer, Jim Henson. We tried to sell things by making people laugh. In accordance with Henson's wishes, no one in attendance wore black, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band finished the service by performing "When the Saints Go Marching In". The script remained in the Henson Company archives until it was adapted in the 2012 graphic novel Jim Henson's Tale of Sand. His youth was also spent toying with different visual mediums, including television, which he adored. "[26] Caroll Spinney was the puppet performer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, and he remembered that Henson would never say he did not like something. [54], Henson's characters are currently performed by Vogel (Kermit), Peter Linz (Ernie, Link Hogthrob), Eric Jacobson (Guy Smiley, The Newsman), Dave Goelz (Waldorf) and Bill Barretta (Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Mahna Mahna). [12] A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of home economics. Jane established the Jim Henson Legacy, dedicated to preserving and perpetuating her late husband's contributions to the world, in 1992. Jones is a devoted member of the Jim Henson generation, having been two years old when Sesame Street premiered in 1969 and nine when The Muppet Show debuted in 1976. The Henson company claimed that Brady was incorrectly using Henson's name and likeness in their attempts to license the characters. [9] However, on May 29, 1990, Gelmont reclassified it as organ dysfunction resulting from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. Jim Henson never thought that he would make a name of himself in puppetry; it was merely a way of getting himself on television. It was critically well-received and won him another Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Variety or Music Program, but it was canceled after 13 episodes due to low ratings. Jim Henson, the man behind the Muppets, began working as a puppeteer in college, creating characters like Kermit the Frog. The vehicle that achieved it was Sam and Friends (1955), a late-night puppet show that was on after the 11:00 news in Washington DC. He suggested that George Lucas use Frank Oz as the puppeteer and voice of Yoda, and Oz did so in it and the five subsequent Star Wars films. The characters on Sam and Friends were forerunners of the Muppets, and the show included a prototype of Henson's most famous character Kermit the Frog. [20] He and Oz developed a close friendship and a performing partnership that lasted until Henson's death; their teamwork is particularly evident in their portrayals of Bert and Ernie, Kermit and Miss Piggy, and Kermit and Fozzie Bear. "[21] The film later became a cult classic. Henson’s last project was Muppet*Vision 3D, a multimedia attraction installed at Disney theme parks in California and Florida. He believed that television puppets needed to have "life and sensitivity"[14] and began making characters from flexible, fabric-covered foam rubber, allowing them to express a wider array of emotions at a time when many puppets were made of carved wood. Jim Carrey is a comedian and actor best known for comedic and dramatic film roles in movies including 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' and 'The Truman Show.'. [16] The American networks rejected the series in 1976, believing that Muppets would appeal only to a child audience. [8] He remembered the arrival of the family's first television as "the biggest event of his adolescence",[9] being heavily influenced by radio ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the early television puppets of Burr Tillstrom on Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Bil and Cora Baird. Dr. David Gelmont announced that Henson had died from Streptococcus pneumoniae, an infection that causes bacterial pneumonia. Native American Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics but was stripped of his gold medals for violating amateur eligibility rules. [citation needed], Henson also aided others in their work. A major influence of his childhood was TV puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, of the show Kukla, Fran and Ollie. © 2021 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. He suggested to his wife that he might be dying, but he did not want to take time off from his schedule to visit a hospital. Around the same time, Henson began experimenting with short films, including 1965's Academy Award-nominated Time Piece. Then Henson pitched the show to British impresario Lew Grade to finance the show. [citation needed], Oz directed The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) which grossed $25.5 million domestically and ranked one of the top 40 films of 1984. Henson's teammates sometimes compared his role to that of Kermit: a shy, gentle boss with "a whim of steel"[21] who ran things like "an explosion in a mattress factory. But Henson didn’t limit his TV puppetry to his original Muppets. [31] Labyrinth (1986) was a fantasy that Henson directed by himself, but—despite some positive reviews; The New York Times called it "a fabulous film"—it was a commercial disappointment. "[citation needed] Wilkins and Wontkins would appear in a vast series of commercials, many of which can be found in a 36-minute collection on YouTube [1]; the Jim Henson company has posted a short selection of them [2]. "He would just go 'Hmm. Henson blamed its failure on NBC's constant rescheduling. In 1975, at Grade's ATV Studios, Henson and his crew created Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Scooter and the rest of The Muppet Show ensemble. [8] His estranged wife came to visit that night. Born: … [42][43] Later, Big Bird walked onto the stage and sang Kermit's signature song "Bein' Green". Soon after, superstar guest hosts came aboard, including Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Vincent Price and Steve Martin. The theater and Visual and Performing Arts Academy at his alma mater, The Jim Henson Exhibit, located in Leland, Mississippi, features an assortment of original Muppet characters, official certificates from the, The classes of 1994, 1998, and 1999 at the, In 2003, Jim Henson was honored at the annual, Our Atlan, Thibaut Berland, and Damien Ferrie wrote, directed, and animated a 3D tribute to Henson entitled, On August 9, 2011, Jim Henson posthumously received the. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in home economics, after which he produced coffee advertisements and developed experimental films. Among the most popular of Henson's commercials was a series for the local Wilkins Coffee company in Washington, DC,[16] in which his Muppets were able to get away with a greater level of slapstick violence than might have been acceptable with human actors and eventually worked into many acts on The Muppet Show. [13] He remained at WRC from 1954 to 1961. (Henson and Jane met in college and married in 1959; they separated in 1986, but never divorced.) In the weeks following his death, he was celebrated with a wave of tributes. Between his puppetry and animated shorts, Henson perfected his gift for engaging children and making learning fun on Sesame Street. Big Bird himself walked in to pay his respect and sing, "It’s Not Easy Being Green." He also directed the original "C Is For Cookie" and Tales from Muppetland, a short series of TV movie specials that were comic retellings of classic fairy tales aimed at a young audience and hosted by Kermit the Frog. 1963), John (1965–2014),[35] and Heather (b. The Dark Crystal (1982) with Frank Oz, "trying to go toward a sense of realism—toward a reality of creatures that are actually alive". Jim Henson Biography Early television intrigued young Jim Henson and sparked his imagination and creativity. They returned to their home in New York City the following day, and Henson cancelled a Muppet recording session that had been scheduled for May 14, 1990. Seeing enormous potential for puppets in this medium, he began his career in Washington, D.C. local television. For the first time ever―a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth-century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson. James Maury Henson (Henson began developing puppets in high school. Henson liked Lorne Michaels' work and wanted to be a part of it, but he ultimately concluded that "what we were trying to do and what his writers could write for it never gelled". He began performing with his puppets on a local Washington, D.C. Saturday morning program. https://www.biography.com/performer/jim-henson. [9] The popularity of his work on Sam and Friends in the late 1950s led to a series of guest appearances on network talk and variety shows. James Maury Jim Henson (* 24. Rowlf was brought to life with the assistance of puppet builder Don Sahlin and puppeteer Frank Oz. At U-Md., he became even more talented", "In the Gallery at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library – MSPAL | UMD Libraries", "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement", "Jim Henson Exhibit, Leland, Mississippi", https://arboretum.umd.edu/JimHensonMemorial, "Fear the Turtle sculptures: Guide to locations", "Keep it in Motion – Classic Animation Revisited: 'Overtime, "Disney Legends Class of 2011: Modern princesses, the Muppet master and more", "Muppets Creator Jim Henson Honored on 75th Birthday", "JIM HENSON's MUPPETS: New Google Doodle celebrates late creator's 75th birthday", "With Muppets on-screen, puppet center works to secure Henson legacy", "Nation's Largest Puppetry Center to Open Jim Henson Wing in Atlanta", "It Belongs in a Museum: The New Henson Exhibit in Atlanta", "Magruder Park now home to memorial honoring Jim Henson's legacy", "Psychedelia, clubbing and Muppets: inside the world of Jim Henson", "Peek Inside the Magical New Jim Henson Exhibit", "The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited", "OKC to celebrate the life and legacy of Jim Henson at the American Banjo Museum", https://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/17/arts/an-aggressive-infection-abrupt-and-overwhelming.html, The Interviews: An Oral History of Television, Art Directors Club biography and portrait, Jim Henson Biography – Book Summary and Quotes, The Jim Henson Works at the University of Maryland, Early Jim Henson films in the AT&T Archives, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Actor Jim Parsons rose to fame as Sheldon on the popular sitcom 'The Big Bang Theory' and has received praise for his stage work. He was born in Greenville, Mississippi, and raised in Leland, Mississippi, and University Park, Maryland.[3]. He disclosed to his publicist that he was tired and had a sore throat, but that he believed it would soon go away. The Henson family isn’t alone in keeping their father’s dream alive: The Walt Disney Company has introduced a whole new generation of kids and parents to Henson's puppet pals, releasing the blockbuster movie The Muppets in 2011. Steve Whitmire, who had joined the Muppets cast in 1978, began performing Kermit the Frog six months after Henson's death. Cooney frequently praised Henson's work, and PBS called him "the spark that ignited our fledgling broadcast service. [38], Henson appeared with Kermit on The Arsenio Hall Show on May 4, 1990. 1961), Brian (b. [34] By 1990, he had completed production on the television special The Muppets at Walt Disney World and the Disney-MGM Studios attraction Muppet*Vision 3D and he was developing film ideas and a television series entitled Muppet High. Henson received several accolades for his work, including Emmys, Grammys and a Peabody Award. September 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi; 16. Jones worked on the project with the blessing of the Henson family and the Jim Henson Legacy. Henson begann früh im Leben mit Puppen speziell fürs Fernsehen zu experimentieren. Jim Nabors, who played the lovable and bumbling Gomer Pyle on 'The Andy Griffith Show' and later on the spinoff sitcom 'Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,' has died at the age of 87. He enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park as a studio arts major upon graduation, thinking that he might become a commercial artist. The collection contains the film work of Jim Henson and the Jim Henson Company. For the first time ever-a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth-century's most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson. Jim Henson: The Biography is a wonderful look at the life of an amazing, creative genius. The Muppet Movie, the first of many movies featuring Henson's famous characters, appeared in 1979. The puppet characters' popularity continued to grow, and they were soon making appearances in TV commercials, including one for Wilkins Coffee. Jane also helped run the Jim Henson Foundation, founded in 1982 by Jim and the couple's daughter, Cheryl. On May 16, 1990, Henson died at New York Hospital at 1:21 am. In 1969, Henson joined the children's educational television program Sesame Street where he helped to develop characters for the series. His maternal grandmother, a painter, quilter and needleworker, encouraged his creative passions, including his puppetry. "[citation needed] Wilkins fires the cannon and blows Wontkins away, then turns the cannon directly toward the viewer and ends the ad with, "Now, what do you think of Wilkins? [16] To provide a visual style distinct from the Muppets, the puppets in The Dark Crystal were based on conceptual artwork by Brian Froud, and it was a financial and critical success. [52] Brian Jay Jones published Jim Henson: The Biography on September 24, 2013, Henson's 77th birthday. Surprisingly, Henson had a challenging time getting the show financed in the United States, but eventually found the support needed with London-based TV producer Lord Lew Grade. The Jim Henson Company retains the Creature Shop as well as the rest of its film and television library, including Fraggle Rock, Farscape, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. [6] Henson's older brother, Paul Ransom Henson, Jr. (1932–1956), died in a car crash on April 15, 1956. As the show's theme song goes, Henson swept "the clouds away" with various original characters, including Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Snuffulupagus and Elmo. The Henson-directed The Great Muppet Caper (1981) followed, and Henson decided to end the Muppet Show to concentrate on making films,[6] though the Muppet characters continued to appear in TV movies and specials. Many of Henson's co-stars and directors from Sesame Street, the Muppets, and other works also shared their thoughts on his death. X-ray images of his chest revealed multiple abscesses in both of his lungs as a result of a previous bacterial infection. Jim Brown is a record-holding, former NFL fullback who has been elected to his sport's Hall of Fame and has also worked as a model and film actor. [ 23 ] from 1963 to 1966, Henson perfected his gift for engaging children and making fun. A career performing with puppets once he graduated from the cast in 1978, began performing with his Cheryl. 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