I forget what I was doing in May of 1990. I know I was in college and probably pretty self-absorbed. But whatever it was, the death of Jim Henson didn’t make it on my radar until many months later. It still hit me just as hard since I was a huge fan of the Muppets. They practically raised me, after all.
I never got to see the televised special of Jim Henson’s funeral. But finally parts of it are leaking out on line. Take for instance this video of Big Bird signing Kermit’s signature song “it ain’t easy being green.” If you don’t get chills at the end of it, you need to check your pulse.
Many people believe that Jim Henson had it in him to bring the sort of creative revolution to the world that Walt Disney did in his time. Sadly that was path was never walked.
And yet today, there is no doubt someone out there walking a very similar path. Someone who will do for modern entertainment what Walt Disney did for film, and then television, and then amusement parks, and finally futurism. Who is this person? If you know the name please share it in the comments.
I hope you’re referring to John Lasseter.
That was amazing. I wasn’t aware of Jim Henson’s passing until years later.
I also assume you are speaking of John Lasseter in your last paragraph.
Thank you, John, for sharing that really touching video. I remember hearing about Henson’s passing the day it happened, and being so sad for what the world had lost–not as overwhelmingly sad as when Walt died, but sad in the same way. John Lasseter definitely is a man walking Walt’s path. May he live long and prosper.
I was also in college when Henson died, but I remember it well. I subscribed to the local newspaper (which published in the afternoon) and remember returning to the dorms after classes and seeing the front-page headline about the deaths of both Henson and Sammy Davis Jr. (who died the same day). The death of Henson particularly hit me hard. I especially recall getting very emotional watching the tribute on Entertainment Tonight, which closed the show with the finale from “The Muppet Movie”, a song with particularly poignant lyrics in light of that situation. Johnny Carson also had a pretty emotional tribute to both Henson and Davis on his show that night.
As for the final paragraph, I assume it is probably a reference to Lasseter, but I think he has quite a way to go before I would really consider him to be clearly on that path. He absolutely has a lot of talent and has overseen some teriffic films, but he hssn’t really shown much range yet and his independence has also been pretty limited. Lasseter may very well get there eventually, but I think there are others that are certainly more comparable to Walt at this point. The obvious ones that immediately come to mind are Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
I wouldn’t say that Henson’s “path was never walked.” His contributions to Sesame St. revolutionized public television and children’s television. He gave us “The Muppet Show,” “Fraggle Rock,” and classic fantasy films like “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal.” His creative magic may not have spread nearly as far as Disney’s, but it was certainly realized. It would be better to say that Henson’s path ended too soon.
I was in college, and living in New York when Jim Henson died. I had exams the day of the funeral, and I am still kicking myself for not bailing on tests and going to show my respects for the man who influenced me so greatly.
I’ve just introduced my 2-year-old son to Fraggle Rock, and he loves it. His favorite song right now is Mahna Mahna (which he can sing!) Another Henson fan in the works!
I was only 7 when he died, but I grew up on his movies, television and general genius. I adore Jim and his television shows are on my tv constantly. I may not love some aspects of the Disney company, but they’re bringing Muppets back (my 2 year old LOVES them! He even has a poster in his room!) and for that I am thankful.
Also: I have to disagree with the statement: “Many people believe that Jim Henson had it in him to bring the sort of creative revolution to the world that Walt Disney did in his time. Sadly that was path was never walked.” I believe that he directly influenced the turn that television has taken since his first came up with the Muppets. Everyone knows who Kermit is and almost everyone has watched Sesame Street at some point in his life. He worked hard for what he got and he deserves recognition for it.