Today puppeteer Jim Henson would have turned 75 years old. I wonder if he would still perform Kermit the Frog if he were still with us. My guess is that he would, since it seemed to me that he truly enjoyed performing the character.
You can add me to the long list of puppeteers who will tell you that Jim Henson, and his work with his puppet troupe The Muppets, are a major influence in their puppetry. I imagine that many of us grew up watching him perform Kermit, Ernie, Rowlf, Doctor Teeth, and The Swedish Chef on television.
One of my attractions to Jim Henson’s work, is that he created real characters with his puppets. Surely this was not done single-handedly. Jim Henson had a great team of puppeteers, writers, and production people that made his puppets come alive on our TV screens. This creation of believable puppet characters is what I try to accomplish with my little puppet troupe.
One other thought that came to me this morning, as my seven year old daughter enjoyed a few episodes of “Muppet Babies” between bites of Cheerios, would Jim Henson continue to create programming for families and young children? What would his work look like in the 21st century? Would he continue to work with felt & foam, or pioneer with computer generated “puppets”? We can only speculate.
I will continue to wear the Henson influence on my sleeve by creating and performing puppet characters that I hope that children enjoy.
Thank you Jim, and Happy Birthday!