Jim Henson’s 75th Birthday

Ryan Dosier – September 24th is always a special day in the lives of Muppet fans, and this year is no different. 2011 marks 75 years after the birth of Jim Henson. Jim is responsible for everything you see here on this webpage and we truly wouldn’t be anything without his being born on this day 75 years ago. Emotions are an odd thing on this day as well. We feel sad that Jim isn’t here, but we feel happy that 75 years later, we’re still talking about this kid from Mississippi who took his mother’s coat, sewed up his dream, and created a legacy that continues to grow and inspire every day.

I always prefer to spotlight the happy over the sad when I have the choice, and on someone’s birthday I think that’s the best thing we can do. Just look at all the amazingly happy things happening for Jim on his birthday!

Google has changed its homepage design in honor of Jim Henson’s birthday. Their current Google Doodle features six controllable puppet characters who are subject to your every mouse click. Click around, play with the keyboard, and have fun seeing what these Henson creations can do! This hilarious, heart-warming, wonderfully designed, and technically innovative piece is everything that Jim was about. Puppets, humor, technology, and weird. Be sure to check out Google and Henson’s “Making of” video to find out even more about the Google Doodle!

The Jim Henson Company has been going wild on social media outlets over the past few days in celebration of Jim’s birthday. Their Twitter feed has been overflowing with fantastic quotes about and by Jim, all with the hashtag #Henson75. If you want to join in the fun on Twitter, just tag your posts with #Henson75! Let’s get it trending! On YouTube they’ve been posting a horde of classic Henson content including some content featuring Kermit and the rest of the Muppets owned by Disney. In honor of Jim’s 75th, the fine folks at Disney have allowed The Jim Henson Company to post some great videos including “Rainbow Connection,” “Mahna Mahna,” Harry Belafonte’s “Turn the World Around” from The Muppet Show, the Pigs in Space sketch from the Carol Channing episode of The Muppet Show, and the magnificent finale from The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson. Plus, YouTube’s spotlight for today is on Jim Henson’s 75th Birthday with tons of puppet videos for your enjoyment!

Sesame Street has uploaded and shared a plethora of incredible new content from its upcoming 42nd season, which starts on Monday, September 26th. Here we see Jim’s legacy living on and on through the likes of Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, and the multitude of Anything Muppets on the show. Some of the incredible clips shared by Sesame Street on YouTube include “The Heaviest Catch” (with a character performed by Frank Oz), “Measure, Yeah, Measure” with Elmo and a Justin Bieber look-alike, Craig Ferguson and Elmo experimenting with chickens, Grouchology with Jason Jones, and the hysterical (and accurate) Glee parody called “G,” which you can see right here below!

In case you’d forgotten, The Muppets is coming out in November and the promotion from Disney is currently all over the place. We’ve got a brand new, unfinished website about the movie on Disney.com (which also happens to be the number one featured link on all of Disney) and, both on Facebook and Twitter, The Muppets Studio has been getting our excitement level rising, saying “Rumor has it we’re announcing something huge on Monday. And yes, that’s right…we just started that rumor here.” and later having Statler and Waldorf, who are still running the Twitter feed, chime in with, “All we keep hearing around the #Muppets theater is about Monday’s “exciting news for our fans”. You two are in for a real treat! Oh ho ho!” So… who knows what this big news could be, but I bet it really is just as exciting as they’re making it sound (at least I hope it is)!

For even more Henson 75th celebrations, check out the ToughPigs.com thoughts on how to celebrate the big day!

And, finally, we’ll finish out our Happy Birthday post with another Happy Birthday post… a brief piece written by Brian Henson for Google about his dad. It’s really fun and touching, and you can read it all below! Following the piece is a tribute to Jim video shown at MuppetFest in 2001 which, I think, really says it all.

Remembering my dad, Jim Henson
When we were kids, my brother and sisters and I were always allowed to stay up late to watch our father’s appearances on The Tonight Show or The Ed Sullivan Show. No matter how late it was or how young we were, my mother would wake us up and trundle us down to the living room television. We’d be giddy—like Christmas. When he came home, he’d head down to the garage where he had a workshop, and repair everything that we broke while he was away—or build a dollhouse for one of my sisters. Jim never stopped making things.

He also loved games—card games, board games, all kinds of games. He was one of those rare parents who was always ready to play again. He loved dogs, particularly goofy ones. And he lived for those moments when everyone laughed so hard they couldn’t talk. I often walked onto the Muppet set to find everyone just laughing hysterically.

Although he loved family, his work was almost never about “traditional” families. The Muppets were a family—a very diverse one. One of his life philosophies was that we should love people not for their similarities, but for their differences.

Jim often had a little lesson about the important things in life: How to be a good person. How to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. And above all, how to forgive. If anything was stolen from one of us—like when the car was broken into—he would always say, “Oh well, they probably needed that stuff more than we did.”

He loved gadgets and technology. Following his lead, The Jim Henson Company continues to develop cutting-edge technology for animatronics and digital animation, like this cool Google doodle celebrating Jim’s 75th birthday. But I think even he would have found it hilarious the way today some people feel that when they’ve got their smartphone, they no longer need their brain.

Jim was clearly a great visionary. But he also wanted everyone around him fully committed creatively. If you asked him how a movie would turn out, he’d say, “It’ll be what this group can make, and if you changed any one of them, it would be a different movie.” Every day for him was joyously filled with the surprises of other people’s ideas. I often think that if we all lived like that, not only would life be more interesting, we’d all be a lot happier.

Happy 75th Birthday Jim Henson! We love you, miss you, and will never forget you! Thank you for leaving us with a legacy of wonder that will never, ever die as long as we believe in it.

Plus, Happy Birthday to Steve Whitmire as well! Thank you for everything, Steve. Because of you, Jim Henson’s legacy, and frog, live on in the hearts, minds, and eyes of people everywhere.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Jim Henson’s 75th Birthday

  1. Thank you for such an excellent post, Ryan.

    Jim's opinion of filmmaking is really telling, and very metaphoric to so many of the values found on Fraggle Rock.

    “We're all a part of everything, and everything's a part of us.”

    Happy Birthday, Jim.

  2. happy birthday Jim you were a true genius and the world hasn't been the same without you
    you were a very important person in my childhood thank you Jim and again Happy Birthday!!!!

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