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Fans Remember Jim Henson

The magic of Jim Henson touched the world, and his genius continues to impact all of us each and everyday.  The following comments are from many loyal and dedicated Muppet fans.  Jim we miss you, and may we have the courage to love others and life with the passion that you showed us!

Ryan Boyd - Brunei Darussalam

Jim Henson is a man who created characters which everyone loved. When I was a child I remember watching the Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Little did I know that they were puppets, but still it was the sense of innocence that caught everyone liking the Muppets, young and old alike. His world was like a dream and once he put his mind to something he would do it, no matter what the challenge! It is people like Jim Henson and Walt Disney that bring true meaning to family films. And so the Muppets will, and always be, a part of my life forever and ever. Nothing can separate me from those funny, fuzzy, critters!

Kristin Cheddar - Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania

Jim Henson meant everything to me. He was my first teacher; my first playmate; my first best friend. He taught me to love - to imagine and dream. We have so many home videos of Christmases at our house - and in almost all of them you can hear the Muppets singing Christmas Carols in the background. I have so many memories of him and his characters, it's hard to know what to say. Nothing could make me laugh harder then (and now) than Jim Henson when he performed the Swedish Chef or Link Hogthrob. "Oh - isn't it just ICKY?" And when he died, I didn't think I'd ever stop crying. I still ask myself why someone who brought so much love and light to the world had to leave it so soon; when he must have had so much left to share.

The Rainbow ConnectionHe does live on - he lives on in every one of the essays that have been presented here so far. He lives on in every one of the lives he touched. One essay could never be enough to truly say what he has given to me, and what he continues to give even now. I may not do too great a job in paraphrasing the Muppet Movie, but as Kermit says to himself: "Don't you see? They came because they wanted to come. Because they believed in the dream."

Thank you, Mr. Henson, for giving us all a dream to believe in, and helping us to find "The Rainbow Connection".

Erin Fogle - Chantilly, Virginia

Growing up with Jim Henson's Muppets and Sesame Street, I believe that Jim Henson was the greatest man alive. He touched the hearts of so many children and taught them more about life than anyone could have learned from reading books or the newspaper. Jim Henson will always be missed.

Anna Hruby - Dublin, Ireland

It is hard for me to accurately explain when the late Jim Henson's artistry began to effect me and the impact which it had on my life and continues to have.  I was born in 1973 and some of my earliest memories are of watching Sesame Street, lying on my parents' red shag rug with my  blankie and watching episode after episode. The PBS station in my native Cleveland, Ohio would show Sesame Street twice daily, once in the morning with a repeat in the afternoon. I would watch both religiously. I was an only child living in a rather isolated area, and Henson's creatures became like trusted friends, and certainly helped to spark what was developing into an over-active imagination!

And then there were Saturday nights, I looked forward to every Saturday night at 7:30 PM, because that is when I could see my beloved Muppet Show. That half-hour used to seem to last forever!  I was hypnotized by the music, the characters, the guests. So many memories... one of my first trips to the cinema ever was to see the Muppet Movie (and even covering my eyes for the scene when Animal gets blown up to massive proportions); listening to Muppet and Sesame Street records; and all the while watching each show in awe.

Henson's creatures played a large part in sparking my imagination and in helping me to develop my creativity. I can remember one Christmas Eve, it must have been 1976 or 1977. I had seen "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" earlier in the season and loved the stories therein so much that my father bought me the record. On Christmas Eve after dinner at my grandmother's house, I stood behind the kitchen curtains and re-told the story of Bert and Ernie's [Gifts of the Magi] to my father's entire family. I stood behind the curtains because I was shy, and also because I wanted my family to use their imaginations. From that time, I saw the merits of a good story and was always asked by my grandma and other family members to tell other ones. 

To this day, I still love to tell, hear, and even write stories. Through reaching into a child's world and communicating directly to the imagination and feelings of a child, Jim Henson and colleagues not only awoke in us children something magical, but also made us feel that all of the magic existing already within our little minds was worthwhile and something to be nurtured and cherished. Although I'm an adult now, I know that that magic dwells within me still... and whenever given the chance, I still watch Sesame Street or anything with my beloved Muppets! I am certain that the millions of people like myself who were fortunate enough to grow up watching the artistry of Henson would agree that it's what we hold in our hearts, the memories and the magic, that is Jim Henson's true legacy.  A little bit of him and his creatures lives on in so many of us!

Hans Jensen - Denmark

As long as I can remember, I've always loved the Muppets. Since I was 2 years old (1981), I remember watching the fifth season of The Muppet Show. The earliest episode I can remember watching was the Mac Davis episode. I also remember being very scared of the monsters. A couple of years later I started borrowing all the Muppet albums at the local library. At that time I was called Muppet Hans! Very cute, huh.

I also started to collect the now very rare "Fisher Price" Muppet dolls. I could do the voices of all the characters, and I loved to entertain my friends with the voices of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, Animal, Rowlf and all the others. I even dreamed of being a professional puppeteer, and of course working with Jim Henson. Then some fantastic years followed, when the TV started to rerun the old episodes of The Muppet Show. I really loved the Muppets. But suddenly, in May 1990, I found out that Jim Henson had died at the age of 53. It was a really sad day.

Today I'm almost 20 years old, and I still love The Muppets and of course, Jim Henson. He΄s probably my biggest idol. I want to say to you Mr. Henson, thank you so much for all the great shows, movies, characters and all the great puppeteers. God bless you.

John Kilduff - Greenwood Lake, New York

Back in 1990, I met Jim Henson at Walt Disney World. I think they were taping the "Muppets at Walt Disney World" special. Anyway, me, my brother, and my dad were on the teacup ride, and my mom came up and said she saw Jim Henson sitting on a bench. We walked up to the security guard and asked him if we could meet Jim. The guard said, "Yes," and we walked over to Jim Henson.

We talked. I asked him if he was the voice of Kermit and he said, "Yes and I can do the voice of that Fabulous Frog right now!" We got our picture taken with him, and he took off his sunglasses so that people could recognize who he was.

We said goodbye to him. Sadly, he died about a month later. We have the blown-up version of the picture in our living room. The original is in my dad's coffin. Jim Henson truly was a wonderful person.

Paul Kitwood - Seminole, Florida

Jim Henson has been an inspiration to me for many many years, and I can safely say, he will be for many more to come. The way he could breath life into a puppet, his wit, and his charm would always shine through in his performance. There was always something magical in his performances and directing, a quality seldom seen. Mr. Henson's work has become a benchmark that I judge my and other puppeteers work by. Jim Henson may have passed away but his spirit will live on through the lives he touched and inspired.

Brian Knatchbull - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jim Henson and his Muppets have been part of me for as long as I can remember. As with most, "Sesame Street" was my first introduction to the works of Jim Henson. I was instantly attracted to them, as I continue to be with them today. However, they also impacted me in a little different way from most.

Jim Henson with Kermit on Ed SullivanI was not only interested in the characters that Jim created, but who and what made them come alive. It was Jim and his Muppets who got me interested not only in being a puppeteer with him, which eventually came true when I was able to work with him on "The Jim Henson Hour," but also to take an interest in all aspects of television and movie production as he did when he first began. He believed it was a real asset, and I thank him for his wonderful advice that has helped me guide my life. My many times spent with Jim will forever live on with me for life. He was a very kind and generous man that would always have the time to stop and talk with you no matter who you were.

One of my favorite stories was from one year when I was in Florida for the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade in which Jim was performing Kermit on the street for the ABC special. It was unusually cold that year and all the other 'celebrities' were inside keeping warm between takes away from everyone. However, here was Jim Henson, a multi-millionaire sitting on the cold sidewalk waiting patiently for the parade to come by to shoot his bits and from time to time when someone came over to talk to him, he started to entertain everyone. He did not complain one bit. It just showed how much of a man he really was. There are so many wonderful stories I have with my times with Jim that I could never express them all or thank him for the impact he has had on me here without writing a novel.

Memories are like threads of gold.
They never tarnish or grow old.
There is a link death cannot sever,
Love and remembrance last forever.

Shannon Lockwood - San Diego, California

Alright, this is my third attempt at writing this letter about what Jim Henson means to me (during my first 2 letters I broke out in tears). Jim Henson is a genius, because he has brought so much joy to so many people through his movies, TV shows, etc. I feel that he was a genius who was never truly recognized for it, and never got a fraction of the credit that he deserved. Maybe this is because the Muppets are seen as "children's" shows, movies etc. He did great things for the entertainment world, and for just normal people. When I'm in a bad mood only the Muppets can help.

My favorite movie is Labyrinth, it helped me in my early teen years, and I am still finding wisdom in that movie. Of course Labyrinth was considered a "failure" because it did so poorly at the box office, but I think it was the best movie ever made.  I know many people who agree with me. The Jim Henson Company is doing the best that they can, but the Muppet productions haven't been the same since Jim Henson died.

Mike Lopez - Maybrook, New York

I have always been a huge fan of the Muppets. It has been my dream to work for them due to the magic that they brought to my life. When watching them, they have a way of showing us the lighter side of life, proving that even as times get tough, it's not that bad. Jim was the most creative person in the film world that I can think of. He changed the way movies were made, he made it possible for anything to happen, and it always did. I will always look up to Mr. Henson because he has inspired me to believe and follow in my dreams. He may be missed, but he will always live through the Muppets.

Paolo Lusenti - Italy

It was 1977, I was 12 years old. I loved the Muppet Show. Every evening at 7 p.m, I was there in front of the old black and white TV enjoying Kermit and company. I did not know anything about Jim Henson, and I could not realize at that time the talent and greatness of the man.

It was 1996, I was 31 years old. I was a happy guy. I was getting married and becoming a father in a few months. I came across some Muppet videotapes and the magic was back, or probably it has always been very well hidden inside of me. It was a special something that stayed and grew up with me. I love the Muppets. I feel the great joy and happiness that they can bring in life.  The life that has gone away from Jim Henson too early, but the life and the spirit of Jim Henson is still with us. Thanks a lot for the great moments. They carry on forever.

J. Daniel McClendon - Orange Grove, Texas

I have to say, without a doubt, that the works of Jim Henson, more than any other, helped develop the person that I am today. One of the earliest pictures in my parents' photo albums is of me as an infant (barely able to sit up on my own) engrossed in an episode of Sesame Street (Bert and Ernie can be clearly seen on the TV screen). I learned to read and count by watching Sesame Street. I've worn out so many copies of the Muppet Movie, the Great Muppet Caper, and Labyrinth.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of my sister and I sitting together watching the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and the movies. It still amazes me, to this day, to watch his work and see not pieces of cloth, latex, and plastic, but creatures full of emotion and depth of character. He had so many gifts: He educated, he stimulated our imaginations, he made us laugh and cry, and he flat out entertained us with everything he did.

I will never forget the day I learned he died. I was in line at the grocery store with my mother. There was a magazine (I believe it was either Time or People, but I'm not sure) on the impulse rack. The cover had a very simple image, one that still brings tears to my eyes. It was of Kermit, sitting backwards in a director's chair, his head down on the seat back, which read "Jim Henson". I looked at my Mother, and she must have noticed the confusion in my eyes. She told me he had passed away, and I had to fight with all of my power to keep from crying in the store. I'll never forget feeling that, even though I never knew him, I had lost a friend. I had lost the one person who did so much more than entertain me, but helped shaped my life almost as much as my own parents. I know I'm just one person, that in the grand scheme of things, I don't really matter, but I hope that Mr. Henson looks down on me from his place above and sees how much joy he brought into my life.

D. W. McKim - Phoenix, Arizona

I was destined to be a Muppet fan from the very beginning. My parents noticed how mesmerized I was as an infant by Sesame Street as I giggled for an hour straight. It certainly paid off, I started trying to read the funnies in the paper at age two.

Fast forward twenty... uh, something years later and I'm more a fan than ever! I have to credit Jim as being the person who's had the most impact on my life. When I was a kid, I had to have all the hand puppets and I was determined to learn how to do all the characters perfectly so I could do them when the puppeteers got too old. This got me into acting and singing, paving the way for my life's path. My first professional acting work was as a puppeteer at age 10 for Kids on the Block (those life-sized puppets from the '80's that taught kids about handicaps). Even though I haven't done any puppeteering since my teens, I've gone out to become a performance artist. Though every now and then, the urge to join a puppet company strikes.

A Kermit sketch by Jim Henson Throughout my life the Muppets and Henson's work has been in the background like an underscore. The time I sang "Rainbow Connection" in a goofy Kermit voice in my last high school choir concert. The time a group of friends "entertained" a pizza boy by answering the  door as Sesame characters (I was outside peddling letter "O"'s for... a nickel). Singing "Movin' Right Along" in the car with my best friend since he didn't have a radio. And all the smiles I have brought to other peoples faces hanging my stuffed Kermit on my car's mirror, or walking through the mall and marching in Phoenix's first pride parade with Kermit perched on my shoulder. Whenever I have been in danger of sinking into a deep depression (which comes with the territory of being a bipolar artist type), watching or listening to the Muppets always helps.

Of course there are those who might say my fandom has been unhealthy, but those people are probably just bitter cranks that got all uppity when I ate all their food. (I wasn't called Cookie Monster in college for nothing!)

Angi Prudhomme - Ottawa, Canada

I remember, as many of my friends do, watching The Muppet Show, being scared to death of Jarod in Labyrinth, and crying harder than we could have believed at the final tribute to this amazing and inspirational human being.

As Kermit's nephew and Scooter began to sing, "If just one person believes in you, long enough and strong enough believes in you..." the tears started down my face. Not only because a huge part of my childhood magic was suddenly gone but also because I realized that the one true believer in a child imagination was gone. Jim Henson constantly made it clear that he believed in a child's sense of humor, imagination, and the ability to be anything one dreamed.

Two Muppet memories will always stay with me for the rest of my life. One being when Big Bird is told that Mr. Hooper has died and isn't coming back, and the other when Kermit the Frog enters at the very end of the Muppets farewell to Jim Henson. Truly Jim Henson is one of the world's greatest heroes and is missed daily by those who grew up watching his Muppets and those who truly loved him.

Kristin Schneider - Naperville, Illinois

I distinctly remember where I was when I heard that Jim Henson had died; kind of like my own "Where were you when you heard Kennedy was shot?" type of moment. I was 10 years old and had been watching a tribute to Joe Raposo on TV. Immediately after the show, a brief message appeared on the screen, announcing that Jim Henson had died that day. I gasped, grief-stricken, and burst into tears. I remember my mom looking at me with concern. Now I assumed she already knew of his death before the announcement, but hadn't known how to tell me.

I can't fully explain what Jim Henson meant to me, but I can say how central the Muppets were to my life. I was a devoted Sesame Street watcher, and the Muppet Show as well. I saw all the Muppet movies and every Muppet special on TV. I had records and dolls. The Muppets, frankly, gave me joy throughout my childhood and still do. I am now a college student unashamed to admit that I turn on Sesame Street on the mornings when I don't have classes.

Jim Henson was behind all this joy. I like to think that in some distant, faraway place, I will meet him and thank him for everything he has given me and so many others. I often fantasize that I can build a time machine and meet wonderful people who have died that I would love to meet... Mozart and John Lennon come to mind, but Jim Henson would probably be the first on the list.

Edgar Seow - Singapore

Around the globe, Jim Henson touched everyone -- with his creativity, humor and sometimes poignant lessons in English, mathematics and humanity. I was 3 when I first started watching Sesame Street on TV here in Singapore -- a black and white TV on which my cousins and I had no idea what color Ernie or Bert was. I grew up with the Muppets. They were there when I needed cheering up. They were there when I was alone. They were there when I was older and studied English and numbers in kindergarten. It was several years later before I started watching the Muppet Show on TV -- and for the first time, in color.

When I watched "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson" special, I was much older and sadder that the creator of my closest childhood friends had passed on. I'm very grateful to Jim Henson for having given all of us the gift of the Muppets. Even though I wish that he was still here to continue on, I know that he is in a better place now, looking down upon all of us, still loving and learning from the people that he brought into the world. I'm glad that his legacy continues and that future generations will not be deprived of the beauty that is Jim Henson’s Muppets.

King GoshposhChris Smigliano - Salem, Massachusetts

I am not a full-time cartoonist, but I do, get published, and Jim Henson has been a big influence in my life. He was Chuck Jones and Tex Avery all rolled into one and made three-dimensional. He combined, charm, characterization, and lunatic daring and pulled it off in such a way that even when you find out how they did it, it didn't destroy the magic. In a sense, Jim was the first "virtual cartoonist" in which those fortunate who were lucky enough were actually able to interact with those creations. Even in my own work I try to acknowledge his vision. Thank you, Jim Henson, for all the great shows, characters, laughs, and the inspiration which made life a little easier, and a lot more fun (not to mention weirder)!

Meep the faith, everyone!

Jessica White - Greensboro, North Carolina

I still remember quite vividly sitting on my grandparents big, cozy couch, being amazed by the furry, fleecy, characters that were frolicking and jumping on the television set before me. I was about 3 years old (1983) when I discovered the wonder that was the Muppets.

Later that year, I was placed in front of the small television in my parent's living room. They turned on HBO and I was taken in by a world of Gelflings, Skeksis, and Mystics. I was enchanted, as I still am, over this world and it's characters. I discovered Fraggle Rock at around the same age as "The Muppet Show" and "The Dark Crystal". I laughed and giggled at the sight of these small, furry creatures. I hoped that they would escape the Gorgs in every episode I watched. I longed to hear of Travelling Matt's adventures in "Outer Space."

Then, I remember something that didn't make me giggle, or laugh, or didn't trigger my imagination. I remember when my mother called me into her bedroom to inform me that Jim Henson, the creator of so much of what I loved, had died.

I sat in my living room and watched "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson"... I cried. Although I knew that the memory of this man and his whimsical creatures would live forever in everyone's heart... as well as mine. That proved to be true. At 18 years old, I still watch "The Dark Crystal", I still rent Muppet Movies (even though it generates some weird looks form video store employees), and I was so excited about hearing that The Odyssey Channel may be airing all kinds of Muppet Stuff again. Jim Henson may be gone, but he will live in my heart forever.

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