A man who kept his humanity at the heart of it all, beloved puppeteer James Maury Henson (1936-1990) was born on this day in Greeenville, Mississippi and coined the name Muppets as a combination of "marionettes" and "puppets."
Henson began his career as a puppeteer in 1954 on a television show in Washington D.C.. "Take what you have and fly with it!" he once said and celebrated the creation of characters who possessed what he called "life and sensitivity."
In 1969 Henson joined Sesame Street and with his unique creative genius brought life to such unforgettable characters as Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Animal, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster. They entered our hearts with music, humor, endearing wit, and the spirit of joy.
"Television is basically teaching whether you want it to or not," Henson once observed about the powerful medium.
In 1976, he launched The Muppet Show and followed the series' critical and commercial success with movies such as The Muppet Movie and Dark Crystal. His remarkable vision influenced hundreds of millions of television viewers and movie-goers.
"He was our era's Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, W.C. Fields, and Marx Brothers," praised Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney. "Indeed he drew from all of them to create a new art form that influenced popular culture around the world."
More Art & Artists Quotations
Keep your humanity at the heart of it all.