Friday, September 23, 2011

This Day in History September 24, 1936

What feelings does this image evoke?  Hopefully nice ones.  It sure does me.  I grew up on the Muppets, and later on Sesame Street.  (I said I was weird! I didn't start watching Sesame Street until I was in third grade!)
My mom never could stand them, but it didn't keep my from watching them.  And my daughter loves them, too.  I think it is easy to say that the Muppets are timeless.

His full name was James Maury Henson, and he was born on this date in 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi.  Henson remembered having a happy childhood in which he explored his artistic interests and explored the countryside.  His childhood friend, Kermit, was the inspiration behind his most famous puppet.

When he was in fifth grade, the family moved to Maryland which paved the way for his earliest TV appearances in Washington D.C.  In high school, he appeared with puppets on a Saturday morning kids show.  He turned professional while in college when he was hired to do a 5-minute late night show called "Sam and Friends."  He was partnered with Jane Nebel, and it must have been a good partnership for they later married.

Henson coined the term "muppets," a combination of the words puppet  and marionette.  Since wood was not expressive, he chose to use flexible, foam-covered rubber to fashion his muppets. He got much exposure through commercials and various variety shows.  He founded Muppets Inc. in 1961.

In 1963, the Muppets moved to New York.  They continued to make appearances on various TV shows and even some short films.  It was the launch of Sesame Street in 1969 that made the Muppets a household name.  Success continued with the launch of his Muppet Show on TV in 1976, and it was still highly popular when he stopped production in 1981.  1979 saw the first full-length film The Muppet Movie, and many more followed (and still continue today).

I still remember the day that I found out that Jim Henson died.  May 16, 1990, he died of pneumonia, and almost immediately, the muppets released a tribute show on TV.  The hardest thing to get used to was the voice of Kermit.  Jim Henson had always been his voice, and it took me a while to get used to not hearing the familiar voice.  I don't notice it so much now--I guess enough years have passed.

So hard to pick a video to post here.  There are so many!!

If you would like more information, check out these sites:

1 comment:

  1. Love the Muppets and Miss Piggy! LOL



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