Today, the world remembers Jim Henson on what would have been his 80th birthday.
Born in September 1936, Jim was born in Mississippi to parents Paul and Betty. The family moved around the south before they relocated in Washington D.C. Looking back on his childhood, the famous puppeteer said the “biggest event” of his youth was when his family got their first television. Jim’s love of theater prompted him to pursue ventriloquism and puppeteering professionally.
Jim developed his puppeteering skills during school and entered the entertainment industry through commercial work. He decided to begin his own company called Muppets Inc. which would later become the Jim Henson Company. By the 1960s, Jim had grown steadily recognized for his puppeteering projects and finally scored a television deal. Of course, the series would be premiered as Sesame Street, one of the most iconic children’s shows of all time.
PBS took Jim’s work and introduced his puppets to an eager audience. Many of his characters became famous as puppets like Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, and Elmo took the world by storm. Jim went on to market these characters to adults on shows like Saturday Night Live and family friendly film spin-offs.
Towards the end of his life, Jim continued his work with puppeteering. The icon passed away suddenly in May 1990 at the age of 53. Hollywood mourned the unexpected loss as celebrities paid tribute to Jim’s legacy. He was inducted into The Hollywood Walk of Fame posthumously and dubbed a Disney Legend back in 2011.
Rest in peace, Jim. Seems like goodbye’s such a hard thing to say.