big red rambling 009: a small tribute to, and celebration of, Jim Henson

Today marks Jim Henson’s Birthday. There are many things in this life and on this world about which I am uncertain. The facts that we are poorer as a species for his far too young death and much richer as planet that we had him as long wed did, will NEVER be one of them. The man remains one of the greatest inspirations in my life, both in his professional accomplishments and personal integrity.

One of my favorite stories about him goes like this: When Jim Henson was young and desperate to get into TV he went to a local TV station in search of job. Willing to do anything, he was turned away because they had no open positions save one: puppeteer for their morning kids show. At this point in his life, Henson knew nothing about puppeteering and indeed had never had any desire to learn. Still a job was a job, and so he went off and spent the next few weeks self-teaching himself how to make and use puppets. He then went to the station, got the job, and well you know the rest.

It still floors me, to this day, to think about the kind of drive and determination Jim Henson had, which shone through in every aspect of his work. The Muppets were always the unlikeliest of success stories, a prime time sketch based variety show completely populated by various puppets doing at times highly subversive humor balanced with genuine heartfelt moments? Crazy, definitely crazy, the best kind of crazy.

Now for some links that celebrate the man and the wonderful creations he gave us. Posted today in celebration and memorial of Jim Henson, “Jim’s Red Book“, a blog featuring excerpts from Jim Henson’s personal journal, which he kept from 1965 to 1988. A fascinating must read.


Here are just a few pieces of art that celebrate the creations which Jim left behind.

I have always felt this song by master song writer/Filker (for those who don’t know what Filk is, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filk as the definition is too complicated to get into right now) Tom Smith stands as the best tribute to Jim Henson created by someone who was not actually in his circle of friends and fellow creators. I warn you that I have seen grown men who would not be caught dead shedding a single tear, weeping like little babies after hearing this song. So go in prepared.


I feel it is most appropriate to close out this little tribute by letting the people and characters who actually knew this great man, recounting him in their own words. Harry Belafonte’s tribute I feel particularly sums up why Jim Henson was far more than just ‘that puppet guy.’ Thank you again Jim Henson, for everything. You never met me, but none the less you enriched my life more than mere words can express.


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