1. Welcome to the Muppet Central Forum!
    You are viewing our forum as a guest. Join our free community to post topics and start private conversations. Please contact us if you need help with registration or your account login.

  2. Help Muppet Central Radio
    We need your help to continue Muppet Central Radio. Show your support and listen regularly and often via Radionomy's website, official apps and the WinAmp Media Player. Learn More

    Dismiss Notice
  3. Sesame Street Season 48
    Sesame Street's 48th season officially began Monday August 6 on PBS. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

    Dismiss Notice

Longhorn and Shorthorn - two of the rarest characters ever

Discussion in 'Family Worlds' started by minor muppetz, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    One thing that I've often wondered about is two of Jim Henson's earliest characters, Longhorn and Shorthorn. They were cowboy characters who appeared on The Junior Good Morning Show. Anyway, has anybody noticed that there doesn't seem to be any images out there of them?

    I understand that footage likely doesn't exist and wouldn't be surprised if the puppets have worn out (though it seems many of the earliest Muppets are in good shape, even if it's not good enough shape for them to be performed). But it is odd that there doesn't even seem to be any pictures of them, not even design sketches. With the red book, Imagination Illustration, various Henson exhibets, Designs and Doodles, Jim Henson: The Works, and so on, it's odd that the Henson Company hasn't made pictures of them available to us fans. There are a few pictures of Pierre the French Rat out there (and I think he's in a museum now). In fact I find it odd that Pierre was called a french rat, while the puppet looks more like a human than a rat (though he looks more rat-like in drawings).
  2. FrackleFan2012

    FrackleFan2012 Well-Known Member

    I haven't found any photo, video or drawing evidence of Longhorn and Shorthorn either. I hope the Henson Company still has the puppets. The Center of Puppetry Arts is making an expansion that will increase the museum's available space. I hope these puppets go on display soon if they exist.
  3. ChickyBoy37

    ChickyBoy37 Well-Known Member

    It would be nice to see something like that!
    LaniArianna and FrackleFan2012 like this.
  4. Dowdysm

    Dowdysm Member

    This may sound "out there" but please bear with me -- the story of Longhorn and Shorthorn is very close to my family and hopefully I can help clarify a bit about them!

    My grandfather, Joseph Campbell, had a television show called "Cowboy Joe" on WMAL in DC in the 50's. After several years the show became "Joe's Ranch". He then transitioned to NBC's Channel-4 for "Circle 4 Roundup", which ultimately became "Circle 4 Ranch" -- which is where director Bob Porter introduced my grandfather to Jim Henson, who was a UMD freshman at the time.

    It was my grandfather Joe who designed both Longhorn and Shorthorn, and a third puppet -- Penelope -- to appear on his show. Jim Henson built the puppets. All three; Longhorn, Shorthorn, and Penelope were regulars on my grandfather's show. He even did all of their voices.

    The reason my family feels these original Muppets are essentially never mentioned is that it opens up a very big can of worms. At the time these Muppets were created, Jim Henson signed a contract with my grandfather, granting Joe Campbell 51% ownership of the "Muppets known as 'Longhorn' and 'Shorthorn'" -- dated December 15, 1954. As my grandfather's show aired before Jim Henson's, I believe his would make Longhorn and Shorthorn the first official Muppets ever televised.

    Jim Henson was not 18 at the time he signed the contract. It was deemed void on this technicality. We've never seen Joe mentioned by name in any Henson history, save for the spare "Jim Henson and some guy." None of this is to take away from Jim -- he was brilliant. My grandfather, however, did not see the recognition he deserved for his role in developing these first Muppets.

    You can see original drawings of Longhorn, Shorthorn, and Penelope in addition to a scan of the contract. And my favorite of all -- an original recording of my grandfather singing/speaking as Penelope and Shorthorn:


    Audio page (look for "Joe Campbell Klip"):

    Direct link to audio:

    I hope you enjoy the images and recordings as much as we do!
  5. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow! that is impressive, and I'm sorry your grandfather kind of got the railroaded there.
    LaniArianna likes this.
  6. ChickyBoy37

    ChickyBoy37 Well-Known Member

    That's very interesting!
  7. JonnyBMuppetMan

    JonnyBMuppetMan Well-Known Member

    :) What an incredible story! Your in-depth retelling makes me wonder how much of this is covered in the new Jim Henson biography.
  8. ChickyBoy37

    ChickyBoy37 Well-Known Member

    I feel bad your grandpa got the raw end there!
  9. Dowdysm

    Dowdysm Member

    My mom mentioned to me that a writer reached out to her at some point within the last year or so, after stumbling across the DC memories site I linked to. I can't remember the writer's name, but from the sound of it I think he was working on a smaller independent project. I would be highly surprised (but thrilled!) if any of this made it into any new biographies. It's been tough going, however. With Jim, my grandfather, and others who had first-hand accounts now diseased, it makes it harder to get the story out there.

    As far as where Longhorn, Shorthorn, and Penelope actually are -- that's an even bigger mystery. As far as my family knows, my grandpa didn't keep them. With Jim granting ownership of them to our family, I'm not certain he ever kept them either. Quite honestly I think it's just as plausible that they are tucked away in an area antique shop somewhere as it is a private collector has them, or they've been lost to time. It's unfortunate. Of course there's always hope they might turn up! Now that you know what they looked like, keep an eye out for them!
  10. Dowdysm

    Dowdysm Member

    -- EDIT -- I'm not sure when the contract was in fact deemed void, I'll have to check with my mom. That could shed some light on where Longhorn and Shorthorn were at the time, if they were still being aired on TV, (I think they were also on the Junior Morning Show) or already "out of commission". I would rather check on that than say the wrong thing. So I'll post what I know once I get clarification.
  11. Dowdysm

    Dowdysm Member

    Last post of the night, I swear. An up close shot of one of the recordings for his show. This is the same one as listed on the original DC memories site link -- but that being said, I'll see if my mom has more independent images and/or recordings she can provide.

  12. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    This is very interesting stuff, and I want to Thank you so much for bringing all this to light!
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I'd seen that website and contract where Jim gave 51% of the characters to your grandfather, and was confused. At the time I didn't realize it was the rights to the characters, I thought it was for a portion of the Muppets (as in all characters and the company, even though Jim didn't officially form his company until 1958).

    This is the first I'd heard of Penelope. I thought that Longhorn, Shorthorn, and Pierre the French Rat were the only puppets on The Junior Morning Show.

    Recently I saw a picture of Pierre the French Rat with an early character I hadn't seen before, and wondered if this could have been longhorn or shorthorn. The picture was at Jim Henson's Red Book, and the photo caption only referred to the character as "a friend", so I guess the people at Henson don't even know. Here's the link: http://www.henson.com/jimsredbook/2013/06/01/6-1954-2/

    I wonder if The Jim Henson Company Archives even has photos of Longhorn and Shorthorn, even if they can't release them due to only partial ownership. The company continues to put images of the Disney-owned Muppets and Sesame Workshop-owned Sesame Street Muppets on the Red Book website, so legalties shouldn't be an issue there.
  14. Dowdysm

    Dowdysm Member

    It's great to hear that!! Thank you for your interest in the story.
  15. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    You are quite welcome, and if you ever need anything please let me know.
  16. ChickyBoy37

    ChickyBoy37 Well-Known Member

    You're welcome! I think it would make a great Contribution!
    LaniArianna likes this.
  17. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I have been wondering, but afraid to post this question, but has this issue in the past turned you, or your family to not like or even hate Jim's latter work with the Muppets?

Share This Page