Jim Henson's Son Opens Up About What It Was Like To Grow Up With The Muppets' Creator
Growing up, all of us watched some sort of Muppet production. Whether it was Sesame Street, The Muppets Show, or any of the movies that came out over the years, the Muppets were a big part of our lives.
They created these characters that would honestly change everything. The fact that these felt characters could become their own unique identity that would last for decades is ridiculously impressive.
While we all know a lot about the Muppets themselves, the man behind the scenes was a little bit less of an open book.
Jim Henson was the genius behind all of the Muppets we loved, like Miss Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo, and Animal. He was able to develop these puppets that were more than that, so much more he had to invent the word Muppets to clarify they were something different.
These felt creations were his legacy, but that wasn't all he left behind when he passed away in 1990. He actually was a father of five kids, and recently his son, Brian, spoke up about what it was like to grow up with these characters around them.
"My dad was a workoholic"
Brian's childhood was spent in the place that so many of us wish we could visit: in the Muppet's workshop.
“My dad was a workaholic. I have four siblings, and for us to see our father, we would spend a lot of time hanging out in his studios and his workshop.”
Even though his dad worked a lot, he found him inspiring
Having a dad that works a lot can sometimes mean that you don't see them a lot, but Brian found it to be inspiring.
“He always had so many ideas he felt like he needed to do. My dad would always say, ‘If something is not inspiring, then do something that is.’ He was an inspiration to everyone.”
He got to play with all the Muppets before we saw them
Most of us would have traded every toy we had to get to play with a real Muppet, Brian and his brother John apparently got to play with them like they were just regular toys.
“The value of some of the puppets my brother John and I ruined in the sandbox when we were four or five years old is horrifying when I think back on it."
They got to make their own Muppets as kids
I know. I am already jealous of them, but not only did they get to play with them, they got to build their own!
“I made the first Muppet penguin. All of the kids in my family would make Muppets for fun. Some were terrible, and some my dad would go, ‘Oh, we’ll use this one!’ When [Miss Piggy puppeteer] Frank Oz used my penguin in one of ‘The Muppet Show’s’ musical numbers, I was so happy.”
His father passed away when he was 26 years old
Brian was absolutely heartbroken by his father's passing, but he said that he took comfort in the fact that "the world knew him and was sad with me."
He was left in charge of the Henson Company, taking over the Muppet productions as the new CEO.
“For a few years, my life was so stressful, it was tricky. But I thought it was important, and I really wanted it to work.
"He inspired people to realize their weird and wonderful ideas. He came up with an original idea and presented it to the world, who embraced it because it was sweet and positive.
"My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there. That’s what he was doing every minute he was alive. And he had fun doing it.”
He's not the only family member still in the puppetry business
Henson's daughter Heather is a puppet artist now, but she originally thought she would step away from the family business.
“Because I grew up around the puppets, I guess there was a part of me that wanted to rebel,” Heather said. “I wanted to do something a little different.”
But she couldn't shake the feeling that it was too good to pass up.
"We lived in England at one time, and I just remember as a kid being brought to these interesting landscapes and places where my dad found inspiration. I remember going to his laboratory… I saw a lot of things that were happening in nature. Those were formative years for me, watching his research and development.”
His family believes that it's the quality that has helped Muppets last in our culture
Muppets have obviously remained popular over the decades, and will likely continue to remain popular for many years to come. Heather believes it's because the Muppets themselves are so special.
“When it comes to the Henson brand, it really comes down to how well the puppets are made.
“The puppets are really, really beautiful and they’re coming from the Henson shop… My father knew very well the power of puppetry to tell a story and how people could engage and connect to those characters. And he did a beautiful job on that…
"My dad really had so many ideas and different directions he was moving in… When I look at his portfolio, I really resonate with that.”
Muppets will live on forever thanks the the care that Jim Henson's children are taking with the company, but it's nice to know a little bit more about the legend himself.
More from Throwbacks:
15 Underrated Muppets Who Deserve Way More Love Than They Get
10 Things About The Muppet Christmas Carol Brought To You By The Ghost Of Christmases Past
The Muppets' "Mahna Mahna" Has A Very Naughty Origin Story
Attention 80s Kids: Muppet Babies Are Coming Back To TV!
Source - Closer Weekly