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Jim Henson was an American puppeteer and filmmaker, creator of the Muppets from television and motion pictures and the famous Sesame Street characters. He coined the term Muppets as a meld of marionettes and puppets.
See the fact file below for more information on Jim Henson or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Jim Henson worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Career
- James Maury “Jim” Henson was born on September 24, 1936, in Greenville, Mississippi and was the second son of Paul, who worked in the US Department of Agriculture, and Betty Henson.
- Jim’s maternal grandmother, a painter, quilter, and needleworker, sparked his artistic passions, including puppetry.
- At a very young age, he began to perform puppetry, first to his co-cub scouts than to bigger audiences in his teenage years.
- Upon reaching high school, he became involved with theatre but was much more interested in backstage production, designing posters, and painting sets for the school productions.
- Jim also began his career performing puppets on DC Saturday morning program on WTOP-TV, a local Washington television station.
- The following year, now a university student, Jim scored his own twice-daily, five-minute show, Sam and Friends, on the local NBC affiliate, WRC-TV.
- Having established a group of talented collaborators, Jim continued to pursue his career in puppetry and filmmaking.
- The program won a local Emmy Award in 1958. That same year, Jim founded the Jim Henson Company. Sam and Friends had guest appearances on national network programs such as The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Paar Show and Today.
- Jim, along with his assistant and future wife, Jane Nebel, introduced many Muppet mainstays: music, witty humor, and innovative tricks.
- The puppet characters’ popularity continued to grow; they did doing about 10 shows a week, sometimes as many as 3 per day. They soon made appearances in TV commercials, including one for Wilkins Coffee.
- By the time he graduated in college, many of Jim’s puppets become popular endorsers such as Wheel Stealer (snack, IBM) and Rowlf the Dog (Purina, Jimmy Dean Show).
- His team was then promoted on The Today Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
- Between 1964 and 1969, Jim produced several experimental films including the Academy Award-nominated Timepiece, Youth ’68, and The Cube, which earned him more experience in production.
- In 1966, Joan Ganz Cooney a TV producer asked him to create a family of characters to populate the educational children’s television show Sesame Street.
- Thus, the beloved Ernie and Bert, Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, and of course the 8-foot-2 Big Bird were born and adored from 1969 until today.
- Jim and his team produced more live-action and animated shorts teaching children how to count, learn the alphabet, and master other educational concepts.
Muppets and The Storyteller
- While failing to find a station to sell the idea for The Muppet Show in the US, Grade’s ATV Studios based in London showed interest.
- The production began in 1975 and the The Muppet Show premiered the following year.
- The world was introduced to a new family of unforgettable characters, such as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal; The Great Gonzo; Scooter; Lew Zealand; and Rizzo the Rat.
- Hosted by Kermit the Frog, the popular show has seen guest stars from Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev to Steve Martin and John Cleese. Liza Minnelli, Elton John, and Vincent Price boosted the show’s popularity as well.
- Soon, The Muppet Show reached over 235 million viewers in more than 100 countries and earned three Emmy Awards.
- An animated TV spin-off, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, also received four consecutive Emmys as Outstanding Animated Program.
- The Muppet Show also led to six feature films: The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and most recently Muppets From Space.
Other Works and Legacy
- In the 1980s, in addition to making Muppet movies, Jim brought two remarkably original fantasy films to the big screen, The Dark Crystal, mixing puppetry and animatronics, and Labyrinth produced by George Lucas, and starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.
- Jim also developed the TV series Fraggle Rock, The Jim Henson Hour, Jim Henson’s Greek Myths, and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.
- Jim’s last project was MuppetVision 3*D, a short multimedia film and interactive attraction installed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, California.
- However, he contracted May streptococcus pneumonia and died on May 16, 1990 at the age of 53. His family continued his legacy and maintained the Jim Henson Company to this day.
- In recognition, the Walt Disney Company has introduced a new generation of kids and parents to Henson’s puppet pals.
Jim Henson Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Jim Henson across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Jim Henson who was an American puppeteer and filmmaker, creator of the Muppets from television and motion pictures and the famous Sesame Street characters.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Jim Henson Facts
- Busy as Jim
- Find the Characters
- Sesame in 2D
- Muppets Patch
- Let’s Watch a Movie!
- New Muppet
- Poem for Jim
- Let’s Make Puppets!
- Puppet Ads
- Share your Passion
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Link will appear as Jim Henson Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 5, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.