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Jim's Friendships

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by mupcollector1, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Just curious, did Jim Henson ever have a best friend or close friends before The Muppets or even outside the media industry?

    I remember hearing that Jim was sort of shy but when The Muppets grew, not only he developed a huge team of talented people but a lot of close friends with his employees.

    I've heard stories that Jim would take The Muppet team on vacation from water skeeing to parties at The Waldorf.

    I'm just curious if Jim had close friends outside The Muppets and the media industry.

    I think I remember Frank Oz quoting on the Memorial recording in 1990 that they were best friends, I would go back and watch it but even though I own a copy of it, it's so hard to watch, so tear jerking.
  2. Collgoff

    Collgoff Well-Known Member

    Well I know 3 friends that Jim Henson had in his befor the muppets.

    Kermit the Frog's namesake T. Kermit Scot
    Mokey Fraggle's Namesake Mokey ( I just don't know the last name of that Mokey!)
    Gorden's maybe namesake Gorden: I read that one of The Jim Henson's books.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it's pretty much common knowledge that Frank Oz was essentially Jim's better half; out of all the people whom were brought together because of the Muppets, Frank was the closest to Jim. Up until Fraggle Rock and Labyrinth or so, the two basically did almost everything together, but even as Frank began building up his own career outside the Muppets at that point, he still did a LOT with Jim, you almost never seen any photos, publicity or behind-the-scenes, where Frank isn't by Jim's side.

    Caroll Spinney has also mentioned, in his book, and interviews, that he too became really close friends with Jim; Jim would often make time to mingle with Caroll and his wife Debbie, and Caroll has said there's been times where Jim would want to take a break from work, and the two of them would go to the movies, or have dinner, or just sit around and talk for hours. Even before SST was ready to begin taping, Jim confided in Caroll the ideas he had for TMS, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, etc. Even though Jim wasn't big on gushing over people's work, Caroll said the biggest compliment he ever got from Jim was during Season 2 of SST, where some of the Muppet inserts had to be taped at a different studio, and one day Jim walked in and said, "Ah, Muppets West!" and commended him for the great job he was doing manning the helm while he's not around.

    Outside the Muppets, it's also known that he and George Lucas were good friends, which lead to a number of somewhat collaborative projects: Lucas helped Jim with Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, meanwhile, Jim was Lucas's original choice for Yoda before he suggested Frank instead because of his busy schedule. It's also been said that because it was difficult to book guests for Season One of TMS, most of the guests that first year were either personal friends of Jim's, or his manager Bernie Brillstein.
  4. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    LOL I loved the Caroll Spinney story, "Muppets West", lol. Never heard that one.

    I've heard the story about Kermit Scot but he was a childhood friend right? Did Jim ever see to speak to him in his later years? I wonder what he thought being the inspiration name for Kermit? lol
    Never heard of the friends Mokey and Gorden. Though I've read as a kid him and his cousins would play outside near the Mississippi river and took shotguns and shot snakes swimming in there. I've read this in this book called Jim Henson The Early Years. I'm not sure how accurate it is though.

    I remember hearing about George Lucas and Jim. (In fact I have a picture of both of them together on my apartment wall right behind me. lol) Though I didn't know that George was involved with Dark Crystal. I knew he was with Labrynth and the beginnings of Yoda. Didn't Wendy Froud (Brian Froud's wife) help build Yoda?

    I remember for a long time when ever Frank was interviewed for the films he directed, he would always credit Jim for inspiring him to direct since the Dark Crystal and how originally Frank was going to be a journalist for newspapers if not working with his parents who were puppeteers. Could you imagination?
    I sort of heard that Frank's parents were a bit rough around the edges. In The World of Jim Henson Frank mentions that his father would sort of yell at the dinner table "When I say pass the butter I MEAN PASS THE BUTTER!" and he said he met with Jim one day in a cab and Jerry Juhl was driving and Jim was mentioning how it was very nice to meet him, in a very quiet tone and Frank mentioned in the interview "I thought I was deaf." lol

    One of the things that I loved about Jim's work was just how much fun all those people had behind the scenes. Anyone ever hear the story about how Jim took a picture of Frank nude and later made a picture frame of Bert and inside Bert's eyes was the picture which was given to him as a Birthday gift from Jim? If no one ever heard this story, this was back in 1975 on the set of SNL. Frank mentions it at the Memorial in 1990. If anyone has a copy of it, and I think it's on YouTube, Frank tells the story. It's really funny. Pretty much the crazy silly pranks that go down behind the scenes. lol But of course Frank cries at the end of his story missing Jim so it's a real tear jerking tape.

    If anyone ever seen it, almost everyone there couldn't complete their speech. Frank, Jerry Nelson, even Bernie (Jim's agent) who said only a few words then walked off. Really sad tape but it's a huge part of the history. It's sad but it's sort of beautiful because it really goes to show that Jim wasn't a typical Hollywood boss, Jim was their closest friends. Even when Caroll was performing Big Bird singing "It's Not That Easy Being Green" Caroll is crying the whole time and it's noticeable in Big Bird's voice. Even in the finally when most of the Muppeteers had their characters singing "Just One Person", the singing was a bit muffled because of course The Muppeteers were struggling. Again if anyone here never seen the tape, it's probably on youtube in parts but it's such a beautiful yet tear jerking tape. It's hard for me to watch without a tear coming out of my eye.

    But yeah, some of the funniest stories I've heard was Don Salhin's pranks in the workshop, I remember hearing that current people at the workshop when they are there over night, sometimes they do some silly funny stuff. There was this guy, Eric something, I think he built the first Pepe. I was at the memorial presentation at The O'neil Theater. I think Heather Henson presented it, she was pretty sad, again people who worked for The Muppets were truely close to each other. Eric worked on Muppet Tonight as a Builder and there's these funny stories. One was that he built a character that didn't come out right so he hid it under his desk / workstation and would use it to scrap foam when needed. And from time to time, he would make fake blood for it and he filmed a short film of the character getting shot. lol It was funny, I seen it. It was filmed at The Muppet Workshop late at night. Then there was a story about how he would work late hours and be the only one at the workshop or sometimes with one other builder working and he would take breaks by putting on his karate robe on and practice his moves in front of The Dark Crystal mirror. And one day, he kicked it and it smashed and he told the other guy to not squeal on him. So notices were getting passed around for awhile about the mirror and it wasn't revealed until the memorial.

    Just found his name on Muppet Wiki
    Eric Engelhardt

  5. Collgoff

    Collgoff Well-Known Member

    Wow you sure know a lot about those people.:)
  6. Hubert

    Hubert Well-Known Member

    The Kermit Scot thing...Jim debunked the rumor that he is Kermit's namesake. He said that he just liked the name and used it. Now that doesn't mean that his friend didn't influence him a tad by putting that name in his head...
  7. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks why I'm on Muppet Central. lol :)
  8. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah kind of like the rumor that Muppet is a cross between Muppet and marionette.
    Which reminds me of how lots of people said that Jim was Kermit and Kermit was Jim and Jim said in an interview that Kermit isn't him but all the characters has a part of the Muppeteer within their personalities. Frank said the same thing, however Bernie (Jim's agent) said that Jim was Kermit sand Kermit was Jim. lol Classic Muppet Rumors. lol

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