History Creator / JimHenson

18th Sep '17 12:42:20 PM MorgenReiter
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Jim Henson died of a severe and sudden strep throat infection on May 16, 1990.[[note]]The same day as Creator/SammyDavisJr[[/note]] At the time, he was negotiating with Creator/{{Disney}} to turn over the rights to his characters so that he could focus on production and performing, and did not wish to visit the hospital (his wife would later state that the refusal was likely due to his desire not to be a bother to people). He was only 53 years old. In a sense, this was the EndOfAnAge for the Muppets.

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Jim Henson died suddenly of toxic shock syndrome following a severe and sudden strep throat infection on May 16, 1990.[[note]]The same day as Creator/SammyDavisJr[[/note]] At the time, he was negotiating with Creator/{{Disney}} to turn over the rights to his characters so that he could focus on production and performing, and did not wish to visit the hospital (his wife would later state that the refusal was likely due to his desire not to be a bother to people). He was only 53 years old. In a sense, this was the EndOfAnAge for the Muppets.
17th Sep '17 8:03:50 AM MackWylde
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* NiceGuy: Jim was a pretty easygoing and nice guy in real life. It has been said that Rowlf the Dog was very much like what Jim really was.
10th Aug '17 4:09:48 AM jormis29
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In the meantime, Henson's Creature Shop had become a major font for further advancing puppetry. Building on full body characters like the Gorgs from ''Fraggle Rock'', the Creature Shop was responsible for the title characters of [[Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1990 the 1990 movie version]] of ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'', and its first sequel ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesIITheSecretOfTheOoze''. As well, the Shop also did forays into CG animation, namely Waldo, a gusty experimentation of a manually-controlled virtual 3D character who appeared in both ''Series/TheJimHensonHour'' and ''Ride/MuppetVision3D'' which runs at Ride/DisneyThemeParks to this day.

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In the meantime, Henson's Creature Shop Creator/JimHensonsCreatureShop had become a major font for further advancing puppetry. Building on full body characters like the Gorgs from ''Fraggle Rock'', the Creature Shop was responsible for the title characters of [[Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1990 the 1990 movie version]] of ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'', and its first sequel ''Film/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesIITheSecretOfTheOoze''. As well, the Shop also did forays into CG animation, namely Waldo, a gusty experimentation of a manually-controlled virtual 3D character who appeared in both ''Series/TheJimHensonHour'' and ''Ride/MuppetVision3D'' which runs at Ride/DisneyThemeParks to this day.
1st Aug '17 8:46:24 AM gjjones
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* AttentionDeficitCreatorDisorder: Perhaps the poster child for how well this can work. From his early successes to the day he died, Henson was constantly trying to get new projects off the ground and expand his artistic possibilities. Many of his associates speculated that this was due to his brother's death in a car accident, with such a vivid demonstration of how suddenly a person's life can end making him want to do as much as he possibly could with whatever time he had.


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* AuthorExistenceFailure: One of the most heartbreaking examples in recent memory.
* CashCowFranchise: The Muppets.
* CreatorBreakdown: He had one in the mid-1980s, involving the disastrous reception to ''Film/TheDarkCrystal'' and a separation from his wife. He became morbid and reclusive and was just starting to come out of that stage when he died.


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* DoingItForTheArt: This was pretty much Jim's mindframe for most, if not all, of the projects he did in his life. However, this also contrasted him from other puppeteers and puppet troupes who saw more commercial success than he did, such as [[Creator/SidAndMartyKrofftProductions Sid & Marty Krofft]], for example.
* FlipFlopOfGod: For many years, Jim had said that the word "Muppet" was combination of the words "Marionette" and "Puppet" (and given that most Muppet puppets resemble marionettes that are worked more like traditional hand puppets, it's convincing), but later in his life, he retracted this, and said "Muppet" was just a funny-sounding word he and his wife Jane made up -- a claim that the Henson family continues to use to this day.


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* HeAlsoDid:
** Henson did a surrealistic teleplay called ''Film/TheCube'' in the 1960s about a man trapped in a small cube who's visited by various strange people as he tries to find his way out.
** His equally surreal 1964 ''Film/TimePiece'' received an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward nomination for Best Live-Action Short Film.
** ''Tale of Sand'' was an unproduced screenplay by Henson and Jerry Juhl that attempted to adapt some of the dark themes and stream-of-consciousness filmmaking techniques of ''Time Piece'' to a feature-length presentation. After languishing in the Henson Company archives for decades, it was finally produced as a graphic novel by Creator/ArchaiaEntertainment.
** A number of film inserts for ''Series/SesameStreet'', such as animations (affectionately known as the Henson Number Count films, or his stop-motion King of 8 and Queen of 6) and live-action (the memorable Dollhouse insert).
** In 1960, he put out a novelty record called "Tick Tock Sick." [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LYFshBjIOI No, really.]]


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* OldShame: The ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' "Land of Gortch" sketches, sort of. Henson was still proud of the characters, enough to give King Ploobis a cameo in the final shot of ''The Muppet Movie'', but the contract forbade him and his team from contributing to the writing process, and the SNL writers really didn't get what he was going for. He did at least get to write their bittersweet sendoff when ''The Muppet Show'' was picked up.
* OutlivedItsCreator: Just about all he worked for, but it's not even something that was of a major concern of his. In fact, this is one of the reasons why towards the end of his life, it was Disney he chose to sell the Muppets to, on the grounds that the company had managed to keep Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and others alive years after Walt's passing. While some of his associates (Caroll Spinney, for one) felt the Muppets did need to live on even after Jim's death, others (Frank Oz) weren't so keen on the idea. Nevertheless, despite the rocky road, the Muppets have still managed to survive for future generations nearly 25 years after losing Jim.


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* RealitySubtext: He had been really close to his older brother Paul, Jr., and Paul, Jr.'s sudden death due to a car accidental had such a personal effect on Jim, that almost all of his work has some underlying level of melancholy and poignancy to it. In fact, this is brought up and somewhat lampshaded in the Muppets' 30th anniversary special, where Kermit admits his favorite part about the Muppets are the times where the Muppets aren't necessarily funny (to which his nephew, Robin, says, "Yeah, I always figured that was the writers' fault").


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* WhatCouldHaveBeen: It's impossible to look at ''anything'' made by the Henson company post-1990 without asking this question.
** On a related note, Jim was the first person Creator/GeorgeLucas approached to play [[Franchise/StarWars Yoda]]. Jim deferred the character to Frank Oz due to his busy schedule, but who knows how Yoda would have turned out under a different performer?
** Henson died while he was negotiating selling the Muppets to Disney. That ultimately did happen, but not for over a decade. One wonders if/how things would've been different for Kermit and the gang.
*** One immediate difference would have been a Muppet theme park, or at least an entire Muppet "land" at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios). Only the Muppets 4D show building remains of this plan.
*** He planned to sell off the Muppets to Disney in order to return to strictly puppeteering. One wonders what might have happened if he'd remade himself as a for-hire performer instead of a show runner.
*** Additionally, Disney was hoping to have Jim become the new Walt-esque creative face of the company and consult on various projects, similar to the role John Lasseter would fill after Pixar's buyout. One can only imagine how a Henson influenced Disney Renaissance could turn out.
** Even with everything he did accomplish, he also had ''tons'' of other ideas that never got past his notes. A nightclub where films would be projected on women's bodies, for instance.
** Frank Oz has speculated that, given Jim's fascination with computer animation in his last few years, he might have joined Creator/{{Pixar}}. Now that's something to sigh about never getting to see.
** Henson was so grateful for Jimmy Dean giving him national exposure on his show that he offered Dean 40% ownership of the Henson Company. Dean turned it down, noting that he did nothing to deserve it and Henson should have all the fruits of his incredible creativity. It was a decision of conscience that Dean never regretted.
** At the beginning of TheNewTens, there was such a resurgence in interest of Jim Henson's life and career that a screenplay for a biopic was penned and shopped around to studios. When a sample of the script surfaced on the web, fans found the depiction of him inaccurate and so disrespectful ([[spoiler: the climax of the biopic depicted him as losing his mind to the point that he was hallucinating his puppets were coming to life and communicating with him, when in fact Jim ''never'' talked to his puppets, nor was he ever sentimental of them]]) that plans for the movie were soon shot down and the script was laid to rest.
29th Jul '17 7:59:44 PM ShadictheHedgehog
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* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Smack in the middle. Henson's work was almost always a source of joy, optimism and good old-fashioned entertainment, yet always had noticeable undertones of somberness. As mentioned under "RealitySubtext," this optimistic realism stemmed from seeing his bother die in a motorcycle accident when he was young.

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* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Smack in the middle. Henson's work was almost always a source of joy, optimism and good old-fashioned entertainment, yet always had noticeable undertones of somberness. As mentioned under "RealitySubtext," this optimistic realism stemmed from seeing his bother brother die in a motorcycle accident when he was young.
16th Jul '17 12:44:55 PM Saveelich
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James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 -- May 16, 1990) was one of the great puppeteers in history, and used that art to reach heights of popular success and artistic acclaim undreamed of by anyone before.

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James Maury "Jim" Henson (September 24, 1936 -- May 16, 1990) was one of the great puppeteers in history, and used that art to reach heights of popular success and artistic acclaim undreamed of by anyone before.
before or since.
11th Jul '17 1:20:03 PM SPBurke
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** When AliceCooper hosted the show, he said by the end of the week he stopped talking to the Muppet performers and spoke directly to the Muppets, and all the performers were so great at improv that they never broke character. Forget MarlonBrando, the Muppet crew are kings of method acting.
18th Jun '17 9:50:17 AM nombretomado
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A couple years later, Henson took a major gamble, bringing his characters to the movie theatres with the aptly named ''Film/TheMuppetMovie''. Much like WaltDisney with ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', Jim knew he had to top anything his team had put out to that date. Complex sequences, ranging from Kermit riding a bicycle to the Electric Mayhem rocking an old church to its rafters, made the Muppets believable in a more or less undiluted real world setting. The movie was a critical and commercial success, paving the way for ''Film/TheGreatMuppetCaper'' and ''Film/TheMuppetsTakeManhattan''.

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A couple years later, Henson took a major gamble, bringing his characters to the movie theatres with the aptly named ''Film/TheMuppetMovie''. Much like WaltDisney Creator/WaltDisney with ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'', Jim knew he had to top anything his team had put out to that date. Complex sequences, ranging from Kermit riding a bicycle to the Electric Mayhem rocking an old church to its rafters, made the Muppets believable in a more or less undiluted real world setting. The movie was a critical and commercial success, paving the way for ''Film/TheGreatMuppetCaper'' and ''Film/TheMuppetsTakeManhattan''.
29th May '17 8:01:06 PM TropesForever
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* AuthorAvatar: Those who knew him say that Jim was a lot like Rowlf the Dog -- except he wasn't as good a pianist.

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* AuthorAvatar: AuthorAvatar:
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Those who knew him say that Jim was a lot like Rowlf the Dog -- except he wasn't as good a pianist.



** And then there's Ernie and Bert, which were basically this for both Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Many have said that Ernie and Bert are very much like Jim and Frank, in that Jim had a little bit of a mischevious streak, and especially loved to pester Frank, meanwhile Frank was rather uptight. Jim also confessed that he and Frank were so comfortable with Ernie and Bert, that most of the time, they would ad-lib many of the Ernie and Bert inserts -- keeping the original educational goal and specific gag of the bit in mind, but forgoing the rest of the script otherwise. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01VYKfOZA4o One insert in particular]], featuring Bert showing off his new aquarium of goldfish to Ernie, was ''completely'' improvised by Jim and Frank from start to finish.
* BadassBeard: He grew it to hide the scars from a particularly bad case of acne, which his Christian Scientist mother refused to let him use medicine on.
* BeardOfDirectors

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** And then there's Ernie and Bert, which were basically this for both Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Many have said that Ernie and Bert are very much like Jim and Frank, in that Jim had a little bit of a mischevious mischievous streak, and especially loved to pester Frank, meanwhile Frank was rather uptight. Jim also confessed that he and Frank were so comfortable with Ernie and Bert, that most of the time, they would ad-lib many of the Ernie and Bert inserts -- keeping the original educational goal and specific gag of the bit in mind, but forgoing the rest of the script otherwise. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01VYKfOZA4o One insert in particular]], featuring Bert showing off his new aquarium of goldfish to Ernie, was ''completely'' improvised by Jim and Frank from start to finish.
* BadassBeard: He grew it to hide the scars from a particularly bad case of acne, which his Christian Scientist mother refused to let him use medicine on.
* BeardOfDirectors
finish.



* DownerEnding: Henson's tragic death at the age of 53 in 1990.
* AFatherToHisMen: Many who have worked for him have said that Jim never seemed like a boss or an employer, but more like a father. Jim himself absolutely hated confrontations of any kind, he could never fire anybody (with the one exception of producer Diana Birkenfield due to creative differences), and producer David Lazer often reprimanded Jim for never disciplining his colleagues when he should have... in fact, it often fell on Lazer to punish someone for stepping out line, such as an occasion where Richard Hunt ended up going on record for publicly bad-mouthing a recent ''[[Series/TheMuppetShow Muppet Show]]'' guest star -- Lazer chewed Hunt out for his actions (driving Hunt to tears), where afterwards, all Jim could do was hug and console him.
* FirstNameBasis: He was (and still is) almost always "Jim", even in his autobiography. Which leads to sentences referring to "Nelson, Oz, Goelz and Jim".
* FragileFlower: As noted above, Jim strongly disliked, and avoided any kind of confrontation as much as he could -- in fact, whenever he would end up being dragged into some kind of heated arguement, or dispute, he might as well have been a turtle retreating inside his shell, as his way of handling the situation would be to just sit there and be quiet.
* FriendToAllChildren:
** Despite disliking being typecast as a children's entertainer, he was the man who made the single best and most successful children's show what it is. Check out those letters the Muppets read at the end of ''The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson''. That says it all. He had five children of his own, as well.
** Interestingly enough, by the time TheEighties rolled around, he seemed to shift gears and change his attitude, as such, he actually began working on more and more projects specifically for children, with ''Series/FraggleRock'' being the first in a line of such projects.
* TheFunInFuneral: He personally requested that his funeral not be a dour occasion and demanded a dixieland jazz band play. Everyone had to wear ''colorful'' outfits, and everyone was assigned a butterfly puppet on a rod to play with as they watched. It's true there were sad moments -- but the whole thing crested when Kevin Clash, using his [[Series/SesameStreet Elmo]] voice, broke out into the bawdy "Lydia the Tattooed Lady".
* GameBreakingInjury: In his last few months he began to suffer tremors in his hands, meaning he would have had to stop puppeteering soon if he'd lived.
* GrayEyes: Types 1 and 3.



* IncrediblyLamePun: When he was announcing the winner for Best Animated Short in his first appearance as himself at the UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s, he began to read in Kermit's voice, "So, the winner is...", cleared his throat, and said, "Had a frog in my throat, there" then immediately apologized and claimed, "I haven't used that line before!"

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* IncrediblyLamePun: He loved these.
**
When he was announcing the winner for Best Animated Short in his first appearance as himself at the UsefulNotes/{{Academy Award}}s, he began to read in Kermit's voice, "So, the winner is...", cleared his throat, and said, "Had a frog in my throat, there" then immediately apologized and claimed, "I haven't used that line before!"



* LooksLikeJesus
* NiceGuy: So nice that people found even the mildest of admonishments from him to be absolutely devastating.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Just before he died, he called in sick for the first time in his life. This naturally got a lot of the Muppet Performers worried.
* PrecisionFStrike: He typically avoided profanity and would simply say "Oh for heaven's sake!" when he got upset. Except for when a viewer of ''The Cube'' wrote a bizarre letter about the corpse of Marcus Aurelius belching at how bad it was. Henson wrote back just one line: "What the ''fuck'' are you talking about?"
** A milder example is a presentation he taped to pitch ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' to networks; the pitch was a brief showcase of the typical kind of mayhem the Muppets are known for, and when all is over with, Kermit enters frame, [[NoFourthWall looks to the camera]], and asks, "What the hell was ''that?!''"

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* LooksLikeJesus
* NiceGuy: So nice that people found even the mildest of admonishments from him to be absolutely devastating.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: Just before he died, he called in sick for the first time in his life. This naturally got a lot of the Muppet Performers worried.
* PrecisionFStrike: He typically avoided profanity and would simply say "Oh for heaven's sake!" when he got upset. Except for when a viewer of ''The Cube'' wrote a bizarre letter about the corpse of Marcus Aurelius belching at how bad it was. Henson wrote back just one line: "What the ''fuck'' are you talking about?"
**
A milder example is a presentation he taped to pitch ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' to networks; the pitch was a brief showcase of the typical kind of mayhem the Muppets are known for, and when all is over with, Kermit enters frame, [[NoFourthWall looks to the camera]], and asks, "What the hell was ''that?!''"



* {{Retirony}}: Inverted. Henson died just when he was ready to go back to being a full-time performer instead of running a production company (though he was not going back to performing his signature character; he had already tapped another Muppet Performer Steve Whitmire for that).



* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Considering that he died suddenly and at a relatively young age (53), this also got bandied about after his death. One anonymous child was quoted as saying "God must have needed Muppets in heaven."
25th May '17 3:18:28 PM DoctorCooper
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* {{Improv}}: Henson embodied his characters so fully that he could make up scenes with them entirely off-the-cuff, a particularly {{heartwarming}} example being [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYIRO97dhII this bit]] on ''Series/SesameStreet'' when a little girl spontaneously attempted to take the ABC song OffTheRails by [[CountingToPotato counting to Cookie Monster]]. Kermit's reaction, and the girl's, are totally unscripted and genuine. You can even hear him almost crack up while saying "You're just teasing me."

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* {{Improv}}: Henson embodied his characters so fully that he could make up scenes with them entirely off-the-cuff, a particularly {{heartwarming}} heartwarming example being [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYIRO97dhII this bit]] on ''Series/SesameStreet'' when a little girl spontaneously attempted to take the ABC song OffTheRails by [[CountingToPotato counting to Cookie Monster]]. Kermit's reaction, and the girl's, are totally unscripted and genuine. You can even hear him almost crack up while saying "You're just teasing me."
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