Today marks the birth date of one of those rare, multi-talented entertainment hyphenates, puppeteer-actor-producer-director-writer and composer, Jim Henson, whose legacy lives on in some of the finest children’s programming ever created.
Born in 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi, Henson accomplished an outstanding, award-winning body of work in his 53 years of life, encompassing both television and film.
Widely known as the creator of “The Muppets,” it was Henson’s skilled presentation of some of these beloved fabric characters, such as “Kermit the Frog” that provided dual stars for him and his amphibian characterization on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
It was also Henson’s puppetry talents that were instrumental to the success of one of the longest running and most honored children’s programs, Sesame Street.
Henson’s life was cut short May 16, 1990, dying within a matter of days after contracting a streptococcal infection.
Today, Henson’s creative work continues through his family-run Jim Henson Company, the Jim Henson Foundation and the multitude of products that bear his signature.
Henson’s alter ego, better known as “Kermit the frog” lives on as well and is voiced by the talented actor, Steve Whitmire.
Henson once said, “When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
On September 26, 1992, Henson was proclaimed, "Humanitarian, muppeteer, producer and director of films for children that encourage tolerance, interracial values, equality and fair play," when he was posthumously awarded the Children’s Peace Award. This honor, which is part of the Courage of Conscience Awards, places his name and work alongside that of humanity’s finest contributors: names such as Mahatma Gandhi; John Lennon and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
The video tribute below is also a testament to his words, his work and his life, and is but a fraction of the outpouring of admiration for Henson that has made its way to the Internet over the years.
Featured on the video is the talented Kenny Loggins, singing the “Rainbow Connection” from the 1979 hit film, The Muppet Movie, which was originally sung by Henson as Kermit. The song became part of music history when it made Billboard’s Hot 100 and was nominated for an Academy Award.