Remembering Jim Henson a Quarter-Century After His Death

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Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog
Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog

This happens every year. Every year on May 16 I remember that day now 25 years past when Jim Henson left this world, far too early. I still tear up a bit when I think of that day. It was on this day in 1990 when Henson suddenly died from organ failure resulting from an untreated infection (that was much more severe than he had thought). It felt to me like I’d lost a close friend, even though I’d never met him.

He was only 53 years old, and was about to make a deal with the Walt Disney Co. that would have enabled him to focus on the creative side of his work and leave the business side to others. We can only guess at the products of Henson’s weird, wonderful, and seemingly boundless creativity that the world was deprived of by his untimely passing. It’s a void that can’t be measured and can’t be filled.

We can at least take some solace that this anniversary of his death comes in the wake of ABC’s green-lighting of a new Muppets TV series that, if the trailer is anything to go by, will be something that would likely have pleased Henson. On this anniversary, Bill Prady – who got his start working for Henson, and who is producing the new TV series – wrote about his memories of his mentor for Variety; and several Muppet performers shared their thoughts with Fast Company. I recommend reading both articles.

On the 20th anniversary in 2010, five fellow GeekDad writers and I wrote about our memories of Jim Henson. I encourage you to read that piece, and watch the videos at its end, and please share your own memories of Jim Henson in the comments.

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