Underrated: Jim Henson

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I have always loved Jim Henson. From the Muppets to Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street to Labyrinth his presence in our lives is something we almost no longer notice – like Walt Disney he is an essential element in who we all are. Having just finished reading his official biography, I was moved to tears to read that the on screen mayhem, chaos and love was just as strong behind the scenes too. His avoidable death makes his passing even worse knowing that he had found a new set of playmates in the Disney Imagineers.

He was such a positive figure. He believed that the best in everyone was the thing to focus on – overlooking flaws or concerns other lesser bosses might have he nurtured and developed talent across the US and the UK in his Muppet and Monster workshops either side of the Atlantic Ocean. He charmed producers, TV networks, impresarios like Lord Lew Grade and ultimately Disney to allow his wonderful world of Muppets and other creations to be seen by the masses.

The thing that hit me most was he was such a driven man, but never at the cost of anyone else. He didn’t climb over other people but instead he pulled them up with him – something so many managers should learn as it makes everyone better in the long run. A family man, his children are now embedded in both his legacy and the Jim Henson Company and beyond across many other film companies following in his giant footsteps.

He took the puppet and made it a family staple rather than something just for kids. He was determined to make the art bigger, better and explosive – literally in many ways – and gave us Kermit, Piggy, Elmo, Cookie Monster, The Doozers and hundreds of others. To read about the laughs that he and Frank Oz had, the relationships he formed with all involved with his productions makes me sad that he is no longer around and that his huge, wild ideas no longer have the impact that his did during his life. As much as the Jim Henson Company carries on his work no-one could replace that spark of insanity and creativity.

Jim Henson, you are still missed and every time I hear Mahna Mahna or Rainbow Connection I remember all the laughs and tears you gave us. Twenty four years later you are still as important as ever.

This song sums up the goosebumps I had all the way through reading the book. It was the memorial from the Muppets to their dad and has the first non-Jim appearance of Kermit.

.

JD

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