For more than six decades, The Muppets have delighted children and their parents the world over. Created by puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, inventor, screenwriter, and filmmaker Jim Henson in the 1950s (who coined the term 'Muppets' from the words marionettes and puppets), Henson's lovable creations began with Kermit the Frog and were introduced on Sam and Friends on WRC-TV in 1955. The comedy show aired for 86 episodes of five-minute segments each.
Henson first started developing puppets when he was in high-school and created Sam and Friends while he attended the University of Maryland, College Park, as a freshman. After graduating, Henson produced coffee advertisements and dabbled in experimental films. In 1958, he founded Muppets, Inc. — which later became The Jim Henson Company.
Henson's rise to fame really kick-started in 1969 when he joined Sesame Street, developing and performing several characters. Henson was involved with the show for more than 20 years.
In 1976, Henson created The Muppet Show, which featured Kermit the Frog as the showrunner of a variety show who tried to keep the antics of the other Muppet characters in check. The series aired for five seasons and was aimed at a more general audience, with each episode featuring a human guest-star. The franchise also led to several movies, with The Muppet Movie opening in theaters in 1979. This is the film that gave us this timeless (and Oscar-nominated) song, "Rainbow Connection."
Henson also went on to create other children TV series such as Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies and developed more "grown-up" programming with The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour, both of which garnered him Emmy Awards. During the later years of his life and before his death in 1990, he founded The Jim Henson Foundation and Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
SYFY WIRE’s Dany Roth recently sat down with Frank Oz, Fran Brill, Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta, who all worked with Henson and appear in the new documentary, Muppet Guys Talking. They are joined by executive producer Victoria Labalme as they open up about Jim Henson's vision, reveal some cool backstage stories and whole lot more.
Additional material by Nathalie Caron.