My first post dealt with Jim's early life and the show business progression of the Muppets to Sesame Street. After becoming famous on Sesame Street on the Muppets went from success to success.
Jones sets out how the Muppet Show became the most syndicated show on television within months. The subsequent Muppet movies were just as popular.
What was striking is that despite their success in America the T.V. series and movies were funded by Lord Lew Grade from England. The American television and movie establishment could not bring itself to recognize the Muppets as great entertainment.
For Jim it was a frantic lifestyle as he flew back and forth across the Atlantic as if it was a pond creating shows, performing the Muppets and managing a major business. The book is at its best in the development of Jim’s puppetry craft and flair for show business. It is ironic that his busy days and nights would have kept Jim, one of the most successful creators of T.V. programming from having the time to actually watch T.V.
Jones discusses Jim’s connection with Kermit and working in the world of the Muppets during the Muppet Show:
“There’s a bit of me in Kermit,” Jim conceded, “Kermit’s the organizer, always desperately trying to keep things going while surrounded by all these crazy nuts,” he explained to London’s TV Times. “I suppose he is not unlike me and it’s not unlike the way the place operates around her.” Mostly, Jim saw both himself and Kermit as the steady eye of the Muppet Show hurricaine, the center around which the storm wildly raged and revolved – though steady didn’t necessarily mean staid. “Me not crazy?” Kermit once explained. “I hired the others!” Jim, too, often saw himself as the ringleader of a group whose members unapologetically referred to themselves as a “bunch of goddamn lunatics!”
When green is all there is to be,
It could make you wonder shy.
But why wonder? Why wonder?
I am green – and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful.
And I think it’s what I want to be.
As well known Jim died tragically and suddenly from pneumonia when he was 53. As the end of the book neared I felt dread. Neither Jim nor anyone around him had an inkling the end was near. As he carried on with the whirlwind of his life I grew sadder knowing it was about to be over.
I enjoyed the book but doubt the completeness of the portrayal. Near the end of the book a friend says Jim was not a saint but it is hard to find a flaw in Henson’s personality mentioned in the book beyond being unfaithful to his wife. I am convinced he was a very good man. I dislike biographies that set out to highlight the unflattering aspects of a person's life. At the same time I expect Jim had more blemishes. This biography will set the standard for the narrative of Jim’s life. I see another to be written that draws upon quotes that do not always praise him.
While it is a good book the cover is ill-suited to the subject. I am sure Jim would never have chosen as plain a cover. Even if it had been put in colour it would have been better. The back and side covers are far more representative of Jim’s love of colour and design. It the goal was to create contrast between the front and back I disagree with the approach.