Jim Henson

Jim Henson

The Biography

Book - 2013
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE

For the first time ever--a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth 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 fifty-three. 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 ten-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 dealmaking 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.
  
Praise for Jim Henson
 
" Jim Henson vibrantly delves into the magnificent man and his Muppet methods: It's an absolute must-read!" --Neil Patrick Harris
 
"An exhaustive work that is never exhausting, a credit both to Jones's brisk style and to Henson's exceptional life." -- The New York Times
 
"[A] sweeping portrait that is a mix of humor, mirth and poignancy." --Washington Independent Review of Books

"A meticulously researched tome chock-full of gems about the Muppets and the most thorough portrait of their creator ever crafted." --Associated Press

"Jim 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. I thank Brian for giving Jim life again. This book has captured the spirit of Jim Henson." --Frank Oz
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, c2013
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780345526113
0345526112
Branch Call Number: 791.53092 HEN NVD
Characteristics: xiv, 585 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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FindingJane Jun 02, 2016

Mr. Jones spent a lot of time gathering, researching and interviewing to capture the essence of Jim Henson and his efforts paid off enormously. We get a full portrait of the departed Mr. Henson, a man who strive for joy, beauty and wonder in his private and personal life. Mr. Henson was a man of boundless genius, talent and enthusiasm, a true-blue, never-say-die optimist who never let failure or naysayers stop him from what he wanted to do. His death came as a shock and a tragedy to all who knew him, people who were touched by his kindness, insight and constant ability to surprise.

Mr. Jones’s biography delves deeply into Mr. Henson’s life and his determination to push the boundaries of his craft. Here we have the origins of Kermit the Frog, Mr. Henson’s relationships with his friends who became business partners and his strivings to bring his visions to the big and small screens. This is a portrait of a genius who was a Southern gentleman, a tender giant and a powerhouse who rarely swore or raised his voice.

Mr. Henson was hardly perfect; Mr. Jones exposes the complete man, the generous boss and the discreet womanizer. But what shines over everything is the portrait of a legend in his own lifetime, a man who became recognized on the street so that people clamored for his autograph and demanded that he “do” Kermit.

Mr. Henson will be missed, by his adoring public and his loved ones. Thank you, Mr. Jones.

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Davidf05
Nov 21, 2015

Great biography from Brian Jay Jones about the life of the greatest entertainer in the puppet world of all time, Jim Henson 1936-1990!

CRRL_CraigGraziano Jun 26, 2015

Jim Henson: The Biography approaches the man through his work. This makes sense since, as he was the artist who redefined puppetry, Henson created and entertained almost non-stop for four decades.

Read more at: http://www.librarypoint.org/jim_henson_jones

2014 Plutarch Award for Best Biography - Finalist

amykduffy Apr 30, 2014

Jim Henson was inspirational because of his boundless creative energy but even more so for his eternal optimism. He created so many iconic characters that have brightened the lives of kids of all ages. But he is one of my heroes because he was a quiet, kind person who still managed to build a business empire and lead a huge team of like-minded individuals. This book will make you want to accomplish and create great things.

k
Kmoellering
Apr 24, 2014

As someone who was not old enough to remember the majority of his work, I found this book very interesting. I quite often found myself looking up the old videos of the coffee commercials where he got his start in puppetry and Rowlfe on the Jimmy Dean show.

This is a very thorough biography, and as such, is quite a long book. There were times when I felt it was a little long winded, but over all a great book. By then end it had in tears over his passing, because I felt like I knew him!

Growing up (and still today) absolutely loving the Muppets, this was a must read for me!

d
danielestes
Dec 13, 2013

Kermit the Frog and company are such confirmed icons of popular culture that it's difficult to imagine the world without them. And many who love and adore the Muppets aren't even aware of their modest beginnings on a local Washington, D.C. television program in the 1950's called Sam and Friends. It was this lucky intersection of Jim Henson, puppetry and early TV that was the key to the international success that would follow. This was the difference between the Muppets becoming timeless characters versus being forgotten as onetime wonders. With Jim at the helm they would go from local TV, to commercials, to a regular TV series, to eventually starring in their own franchise of movies.

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones is as much the Muppet's story as it is Jim's. You'll see values from his own Normal Rockwell-esque upbringing that would naturally be passed on to his work and in those who worked for him. And he wasn't always the kind man he's often portrayed as either, but it's complexities like these that makes his story all that more interesting to read.

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