“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” – Jim Henson
I am glad that Jim Henson invented the Muppets in 1969. My favourite puppets are the Muppets – all of them, from Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy! When my kids were little, we watched the Muppets on the television show Sesame Street. For one birthday I even gave my son Michael a Kermit the Frog stuffed doll. It was a huge hit! He even had a green t-shirt with Kermit’s happy face printed on the front.
Puppets already existed before the Muppets. In fact, puppets have been around for thousands of years. There are many different kinds of puppets – hand puppets, stick puppets, finger puppets, and string puppets (marionettes). One thing they all have in common – the puppets’ movements are jerky and stiff. Jim Henson wanted to change that. He was interested in inventing new ways of making puppets that would allow them to move in a more lifelike fashion.
In 1958, Jim Henson came up with an idea for a new type of puppet made with a soft body that would move smoothly. He applied to the United States Patent Office for a patent to protect his idea. Over time, his invention evolved to become the Muppets.
Jim Henson was born in 1938 in Greenville, Mississippi. He started making puppets when he was just eighteen years old and still in high school, for a local Saturday morning children’s television show. At college, he took a puppet making class where he came up with the first Kermit-like puppet. I’m glad he did. Even though I am adult, when I see the Muppets, I feel like a kid again, and I can’t stop smiling.