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Jim Henson: Performing Artist

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The University of Maryland's Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library launched Jim Henson: Performing Artist, a gallery exhibition, on September 22, 2006 featuring Muppets and many behind-the-scenes photographs of Jim Henson and his creative associates. Featured Muppets included Marvin Suggs, Mildred, Mokey, Scred, and the two Java puppets. The exhibit launched as part of the "Jim Henson: Creativity and Other Inspirational Stuff" events at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

There was a panel called Jane and Friends: The College Park Legacy -- A Casual Conversation with Jane Henson.

Highlights included the following:

  • Mary Jane Milli, who was in theatre productions with the Hensons in college remembers driving out a long way to a puppet show with Jim Henson. Jim said he just couldn't seem to get to first base with girls and asked what was wrong with him. Mary Jane told him: "Get rid of those damn puppets!"
  • Edward Longley (who taught the puppetry class in which Jim and Jane Nebel met) recalled, "My idea was to get him to be a teacher.... I told him one time that he might as well be a teacher because puppets weren't going to make him any money."
  • Jane Henson remembered working on a project for class based on James Thurber's The 13 Clocks. She said Jim was always thinking of doing a big production of The 13 Clocks and that Tinkerdee was influenced by it.
  • Jane Henson on Sam and Friends: "If the wigs looked too good we'd kind of smush them up and distress them. They didn't have to look that bad; it was by choice."
  • Jane on why Kermit is like Jim: Kermit is "kind of unassuming and yet in charge."
  • Jane said that they didn't really keep Muppets around the house when the kids were growing up, but that they did have a puppet basket and Chicken Liver ended up staying in it for years. Finally the Smithsonian wanted him and he had to be significantly repaired.
  • Heather Henson talked about going up to her mom's attic and said there were storage boxes for the kids' things that Jim had painted in the same style as the Sesame Street animated numbers -- a number on the front and the same quantity of animals on the other side.
  • At the end of the ceremony, everyone was invited to hold their puppets in the air for a rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song in honor of Jim Henson's 70th birthday.

Gallery

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