Segments in this Video

Jim Henson (02:12)


This segment orients viewers to the life story of Jim Henson, an American puppeteer who gained international fame as the creator of The Muppets.

Kermit the Frog (02:29)

Henson achieves prime time success with "The Muppet Show" premiere in 1976. Henson most identifies with Kermit the Frog.

Mississippi Tom Sawyer (01:31)

Born in 1936, Henson grew up in rural Mississippi. His avoidance of medical doctors would later have profound consequences.

Early Career in Puppetry (02:23)

Edgar Bergen and his dummies are Henson's favorite wartime radio station personalities. In 1948, Henson and his family move to a suburb in Washington D.C. As a senior in high school, Henson works in television.

Pierre the French Rat (01:24)

At 17, Henson features his first Muppet, Pierre the French Rat, on a junior morning show. Henson's triangle technique revolutionizes the puppet crafting world.

NBC and Jane Nible (03:09)

In the summer of 1954, Henson creates new Muppets for the "Circle 4 Ranch" and "Cowboy Joe Campbell" shows. Henson hires Jane Nebel and their chemistry is immediate. Henson and Nebel work together on the "Sam and Friends" show.

Personal Tragedy and Professional Drive (03:05)

In the summer of 1955, Henson and Nebel's Muppets are a local comedy sensation. Henson's brother, Paul dies in a car accident. Henson focuses on work and creates his first commercial.

Jim Henson Meets Frank Oz (04:08)

Henson creates his company, Muppets Inc. and on May 28, 1959, he marries Nebel. In 1960, the Muppets make their first appearance on NBC's Today Show. Frank Oz reflects on working for Muppets Inc. as a teenager.

Prime Time Stardom (02:09)

Henson hires Don Sahlin, who builds countless muppets. With Rowlf the Dog's appearance on "The Jimmy Dean Show," the Muppets gain prime time television status. In 1965, Henson directs a short film, "Time Piece."

Birth of "Sesame Street" (04:42)

In 1966, the Children's Television Workshop is formed during a time of social unrest. In 1969, Henson joins the team at "Sesame Street." Soon, Bert, Ernie, Kermit, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch enter the scene.

New Creative Outlets (02:06)

Henson continues his experimental projects, such as "The Cube," but it's the Muppets that are in demand. In 1973, Henson and Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner team-up for the "Muppet's Valentine Special."

"The Muppet Show" (04:59)

In 1975, Henson works for a short time on Saturday Night Live, but moves to London when Lew Grade offers to sponsor "The Muppet Show." In September of 1976, the U.S. "Muppet Show" premiers.

Making Movies (02:41)

Constant travel puts a strain on Henson's marriage. "The Muppet Movie" opens in 1979 and is a smash hit. In 1981, Henson cancels "The Muppet Show "at the height of its success.

Henson's Fantasy World (02:37)

Henson strives to be recognized as an artist. In 1982, he created "The Dark Crystal." The movie experiences mixed reviews.

Henson's Global Show (03:24)

After Henson's return to New York, he and his wife agree to a formal separation. In 1983, Henson launches a new children's show, "Fragile Rock." In 1986, Jim directs the cult classic, "Labyrinth."

Overworked and Exhausted (02:49)

By 1989, with many projects to manage, Henson's fatigue begins to show. Henson begins merger negotiations with Eisner. Work begins on the Muppet-Vision 3D attraction at Disneyland.

Untimely Death (03:34)

Henson contracts the flu, but avoids medical attention. Once in a hospital, Henson is immediately sent to the intensive care unit where he loses consciousness. On May 16th, 1990, Henson dies of toxic shock syndrome.

Life Goes On (04:47)

With Henson's passing, company members decide to continue working in his name. In September 2003, Willard Scott dedicates a statue in Henson's honor at the University of Maryland.

Credits: Jim Henson: In Their Own Words (00:36)

Credits: Jim Henson: In Their Own Words

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Jim Henson: In Their Own Words

Part of the Series : In Their Own Words, Season 1
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Explore the incredible life of the man behind The Muppets and so much more. Follow Jim Henson's career as he transcended puppetry to become one of the most creative, prolific, and influential artists of his time. Journey into his first work with the Muppets in the early 1950s during television's Golden Age, up to his sudden and shocking death in 1990. Witness key events unfold in his life, from his early television work with the Muppets while still a student at the University of Maryland and his commercial work and network appearances in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to his breakthrough with Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and his groundbreaking fantasy films Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Hear from his children, Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, and Heather Henson. And enjoy firsthand memories shared by friends like Frank Oz, Candice Bergen, Willard Scott, director John Landis, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and Sesame Street cast members Bob McGrath and Carroll Spinney. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: FPT114665

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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