It’s been 20 years since the world lost Jim Henson, and I still can’t think about it without tearing up a bit. His death at age 53 was sudden and catastrophic, like being hit by lightning on a cloudless day. Along with countless others around the world who had never met him, I felt like a close friend was gone.
Five of my fellow GeekDads and I have put together this article as a tribute to his memory. On the following pages are our thoughts on this anniversary of his passing, and at the end are videos from his memorial service in 1990, which are some of the saddest and most wonderful things you are ever likely to see. Please take a few minutes to read and watch, and then add your own tribute in the comments.
This is my now-six-year-old, back when she was about 2 1/2, at the Children’s Museum in Portland, Oregon. They were having a Sesame Street exhibit, and in one of the stations, kids could dress as a furry Muppet. There was also a bit with a blue screen behind a brick half-wall, so you could appear on the TV with various Muppets, just like other little kids from the show. My daughter at this point hadn’t watched much TV before, but she loved being on TV and it didn’t seem to bother her at all that there wasn’t an actual Muppet next to her.
I remember growing up with two Sesame Street books in particular: The Monster at the End of This Book (starring Grover) and Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree. I managed to find copies of both books when my daughter was little, and I loved reading it to her and doing the voices. (I can manage a pretty good Grover and Cookie Monster, sometimes Ernie, and I get by on the rest.) More recently, when I was helping with an after-school program and trying to read books to second- and third-graders, I discovered one day that the only thing that got them to sit still and listen was when I read a book as Grover. They were immediately hooked.
— Jonathan Liu