Anyone who knows me knows that I love all things Muppets, especially Kermit the Frog. Of course when I saw Brian Jay Jones’ Jim Henson: The Biography, I had to take the leap (a little frog humor) and start reading. Admittedly, biographies are not my favorite genre. I have a few reasons why. I find some biographies to be too detailed. Sometimes a wikipedia page is all I really need to know about a person. Despite how fascinating a person’s life may have been, some authors make their lives stale on the pages. Finally, I am very emotional and I become invested in the person. Jim Henson’s life definitely made me emotional.
I breezed through this 500 page book and throughout my reading, I experienced the whole spectrum of emotion. I loved learning about Jim Henson and seeing him depicted not just as Muppet creator, but flawed human being. Reading this book was a lot like reading the bios of some of my favorite Muppet characters. I giggled, pondered, and finally cried at how tragic and preventable Jim Henson’s death was. As Jones wrote on multiple occasions, Jim was Kermit, and Kermit was Jim. They both were leaders of a wacky group, and they both were calm in the chaos. Jim and Kermit are idealists. Jim was a creator (not puppeteer!) who had visions light years ahead of other people. I really, really recommend reading the book!
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
” ‘Something that [Jim] had been observing a lot in life is that we all live within our world, but there are other worlds going on at the same time,’ said Jane Henson. ‘We really don’t know how the ants feel…but we know our world and we kind of think that that’s it…So he felt that he would like to do a show [Fraggle Rock] where there were three worlds and the struggle was to know how to keep each world strong, but also cooperate within the worlds…He liked that, using different worlds.’ ”
” ‘In broad strokes,’ explained Jim, ‘the message I try to bring across is the positives of life and positive attitude toward the goodness of mankind.’ ”
“As part of my prayers, I thank whoever is helping me – I’m sure somebody or something is – I express gratitude for all my blessings and I try to forgive the people that I’m feeling negative toward. I try hard not to judge anyone, and I try to bless everyone who is part of my life, particularly anyone with whom I am having any problems.”
“Jerry Juhl warmly recalled how ‘Jim taught us many things: to save the planet, be kind to each other, praise God, and be silly. That’s how I’ll remember him – as a man who was balanced effortlessly and gracefully between the sacred and the silly.’ ”
“Jim Henson’s physical body was gone, and yet that powerful presence – that undefinable something that compelled men to seek his appreciation and approval, and that women somehow found irresistable-would always remain. Anyone who had ever smiled as Ernie tried to play a rhyming game with Bert, or laughed as Kermit had chased Fozzie off the stage, arms flailing, had felt it. Anyone who had ever wished they could explore a Fraggle hole, save the world with a crystal shard, or dance with a charismatic goblin king had been touched by it.”