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Biographers have the unique responsibility—and privilege—of living with their subjects for the years they’re doing their research and writing. Frankly, I couldn’t have asked for better company over the last five years. Jim Henson has been part of my life—and probably part of yours—for nearly as long as I can remember. I was two when Sesame Street premiered in 1969, and nine when The Muppet Show debuted in 1976. That practically makes me Muppets Generation 1.0. Why would I choose to write about Jim Henson, then? Heck, why wouldn’t I?
For the most part, the bulk of the research for this biography was conducted the old-fashioned way: sitting in an archive—in this case, The Jim Henson Company archives in Long Island City, New York—and turning over documents one at a time. I read through Jim’s private diaries, examined handwritten notes—sometimes just scraps of paper with ideas for a character name or a slapdash drawing of a new Muppet—pored through business papers and receipts, and poked through innumerable TV scripts and film proposals, many of which never made it any further than Jim’s carefully typed notes. For the first time, you’ll read about many of these projects, and learn how hard Jim worked to bring programs like The Muppet Show to television.
I also had the pleasure of interviewing all five Henson children and his widow, Jane—who passed away earlier this year—as well as countless colleagues, friends, and collaborators. We spoke in living rooms in London, workshops in New York, and film studios in Burbank. We talked over breakfast in hotels and brunches in diners. And when we couldn’t meet in person, we talked on telephones and Skype, or wrote each other e-mails. Almost to a person, everyone was open, honest, and thoughtful about Jim and his work—and, as you can probably imagine, many were also very, very funny.
Finally, of course, there was the pure enjoyment of going back through Jim’s work, watching Muppets and Fraggles and Skeksis and Storytellers with a keener appreciation of how Jim wove his life into his art, and his art through his life. Any time you can watch episodes of The Muppet Show, or old footage of Jim blowing up his Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show and call it work, you know you’ve officially got one of the best jobs anywhere.
It took five years to get here—and now, at last, it’s your turn to live with Jim Henson. I think you’ll find he’s pretty much exactly as you want him to be: genuinely kind, dazzlingly inspirational, immensely talented and—as Frank Oz said—“delightfully imperfect.” Not bad for a kid from the swamps of Mississippi.
“It’s a good life,” Jim once wrote. “Enjoy it.” And I hope you’ll enjoy Jim Henson.
My 4th grade son brought this book home yesterday from the library and he's now on chapter 2. He was telling me about the book as I was putting him to bed tonight and it hit me... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Jack Neck
It's reasonably clear from the other reviews that this is a great book, and I wanted to just add my voice, but focus more on the not so great aspects. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Christian R. Unger
I'm a fan of Jim Henson, having grown up watching Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. The latter, airing Saturday nights in the late 1970s, was a special treat for my sister and... Read morePublished 20 days ago by Audiobook Bandit
Well written, a true picture of a great human being, a fine tribute to beloved hero of all mankind.Published 22 days ago by cookieman
Jim Henson. Pretty much the greatest puppeteer of the 20th century. An odd achievement for an odd man. He knew what he loved and came to define the entire genre. Read morePublished 24 days ago by john caccitolo
Maybe everything a jim Henson fan would want to know. Well written and researched - makes you want to re-watch many of his wonderful creationsPublished 26 days ago by ck2013
Interesting look at a beloved entertainer. Highly recommend to any fan of his work.Published 28 days ago by RNGagnon