For the first time ever - a comprehensive biography of one of the 20th century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson
He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were just part of his remarkable story.
This extraordinary biography - written with the generous cooperation of the Henson family - covers the full arc of Henson’s all-too-brief life: from his childhood in Leland, Mississippi, through the years of burgeoning fame in America, to the decade of international celebrity that preceded his untimely death at age 53. Drawing on hundreds of hours of new interviews with Henson's family, friends, and closest collaborators, as well as unprecedented access to private family and company archives, Brian Jay Jones explores the creation of the Muppets, Henson’s contributions to Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live, and his nearly 10-year campaign to bring The Muppet Show to television. Jones provides the imaginative context for Henson’s non-Muppet projects, including the richly imagined worlds of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth - as well as fascinating misfires like Henson’s dream of opening an inflatable psychedelic nightclub.
An uncommonly intimate portrait, Jim Henson captures all the facets of this American original: the master craftsman who revolutionized the presentation of puppets on television, the savvy businessman whose deal-making prowess won him a reputation as "the new Walt Disney", and the creative team leader whose collaborative ethos earned him the undying loyalty of everyone who worked for him. Here also is insight into Henson’s intensely private personal life: his Christian Science upbringing, his love of fast cars and expensive art, and his weakness for women. Though an optimist by nature, Henson was haunted by the notion that he would not have time to do all the things he wanted to do in life - a fear that his heartbreaking final hours would prove all too well founded.
An up-close look at the charmed life of a legend, Jim Henson gives the full measure to a man whose joyful genius transcended age, language, geography, and culture - and continues to beguile audiences worldwide.
©2013 Brain Jay Jones (P)2013 Random House Audio
"The biography’s delightful surprises include a disastrous run on the first season of Saturday Night Live ('the mucking Fuppets,' John Belushi grumbled), an early milky-blue iteration of Kermit sewn from Henson’s mother’s felt coat and the story of how Frank Oz became Yoda." (Kyle Minor, Salon)
"I worked with Jim for more than 30 years. He was one of my closest friends. And yet I found out things about him in Jim Henson that were new to me. Brian Jay Jones has captured the layers of Jim’s genius and humanity, as well as the flaws that made Jim, like all of us, so delightfully imperfect. Jim needed this book to be written. I thank Brian for giving Jim life again. This book has captured the spirit of Jim Henson." (Frank Oz)
"Illuminating . . . As Jones expertly shows, Henson remained throughout his life an artist who was continuously in motion, conceiving, pitching, and managing multiple projects at once." (The Atlantic)
"I’m a rabid Jim Henson fan - his brilliant ideas spawned shows that entertained and educated millions, myself included. Jim Henson vibrantly delves into the magnificent man and his Muppet methods. It’s an absolute must read!" (Neil Patrick Harris)
I love to read. On average I read and/or listen to more than 100 books a year. Audible has been a fantastic addition to my life. Love it!
This was a fantastic biography; the only that has ever made me cry. A wonderful look at the man who inspired my generation. More than a few fond memories of childhood: Disney, Muppets, Labyrinth, and Fraggles. This is a wonderful listen from start to finish.
It's a beautiful story, about a man worthy of emulation.
I was irritated in the beginning by the level of detail in the (pre-) biography, but quickly forgave. As someone in a creative profession, as someone who grew up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and as a dad raising a child, this audiobook resonated with me and literally had me in tears (happy and sad) at several moments. A very emotional read all things considered.
The world is a poorer place without the likes of Jim Henson. Well-written and truly affective.
R.I.P. Mr. Henson, you did well by the world.
Usually, when I finish a biography, I have a a sense of knowing the subject better, even in a personal way. I did not have this experience finishing this book. I didn't have a sense of who he was psychologically. He was a brilliant artist, but there was no depth re: how he saw himself as an artist or how his spiritual beliefs affected his works. Some of this information was occasionally dropped in between long descriptions of business dealings. I know the reviews are very good, but not my cup of tea.
great insight as to the kind of man Jim was and how dedicated he was to his art. he was working all the time he didn't consider it work it was play time
for him. there was do much more than the Muppets to his legacy
Thoreau's Walden ("Reading") and Ayn Rand's introduction to The Fountainhead (25th anniversary edition) summarize my library well.
This book is a detailed hagiography of Jim Henson.
After the opening chapter (A, B, C... Cookie Monster!) I was ready to fall in love with this book. The next chapter (the excruciatingly detailed Henson ancestry) had me leaning the other direction. In the end, the book settled in the middle.
I really appreciated learning about Jim the Artist. It was interesting to know that he always wanted to be known more than just "The Muppets Guy," that he wanted to be known as an artist. He believed in The Power of Puppetry down to his bone. He suffered greatly when his masterpiece attempts (Dark Crystal, Labyrinth) failed to connect with the public. He ruled the licensing of his brands with an iron fist: not out of the desire to profit, but to ensure the essence of his creations was preserved (a similar spirit was seen in Bill Watterson by his -not- licensing Calvin and Hobbes in order to defend their essence). What passion. And with passion comes unparalleled quality.
The book also gets very technical in the details of some of his best known works (e.g., opening scene of The Muppet Movie). This is a real delight for any technical-minded reader.
I grew up on Fraggle Rock; I was heartened to hear that FR was one of Henson's proudest accomplishments--not just in style and substance, but by virtue that he was largely hands-off in that project, his vision accurately passed down to his staff for their execution.
Naturally his passing and funeral were a very moving part of this book. By definition, how could it not be?
Several other commenters of this book want to know more about the collapse of Jim's marriage and affairs in England. I don't need tabloid details to understand that there was a mis-step, an imperfection along the way. Perhaps it was best to leave such details out of a book like this, and simply acknowledge the fact.
Heyborne was a fine narrator--not my favorite, but certainly someone capable of recording a commerical audiobook. His Kermit-like characterization of Jim was good, but at times felt kitsch.
Jim Henson and his work left this world a better place. This book left us knowing Jim and his work better. I won't read this book again, but I am glad that I did.
Absolutely. It's a perfect example of what it takes to make a difference in the world with your art and what it takes to be a success.
Hearing the inception of The Muppet Show and Seseme Street.
Jim himself. He FELT like Jim Henson. Amazing.
"Sometimes all you need for to accomplish your dream is felt, string, and Lilly Pad".
AMAZING listen. If you're interested in Mr. Henson and what he created, if anything he created touched you as a child or as an Adult, LISTEN TO THIS BOOK.
A comprehensive look at the life and creativity of Jim Henson. Even if you know how his life ends, it is beyond heart breaking. This is probably because the book helps you get to know him so well, and reminds you of all the positive memories you have of Jim,the gut punch is real.
In the top 10
The writer gave a true overall picture of Jim, his good points and bad. It went a a good pace without skipping over or dwelling too long on any chapter.
Yes, but at 30 hours I couldn't manage it.
An excellent book. Tears at the end when his memorial was given. A note to Audiible, the review questions given don't match biographies, some the questions asked don't fit.
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