Culture & Art

Oct 12, 2018

THE MUPPETS

No matter the age or generation, it's a fact that we all know the stuffed puppets that gained life and filled the imagination of its fans. Fun, different and even a little inconvenient, these animated puppets are one of the most recognized series of all times.

It is one of the most watched series in the world of the 70th, The Muppets are an icon of many.

Jim Henson (24/09/1936 - 05/16/1990) is the mind behind the world's best-known puppet story. The Muppets are about 40 years old, from the small screen to the big movie theatres, making the delights of kids and adults who, without a definite age, have a taste for these stuffed figures.

Henson's career began in 1995 in a fortnightly feature on the Sam and Friends' program for the NBC channel in Maryland. The program would be awarded with an Emmy Award (local) in 1958, the same year which Henson founded the Jim Henson's Company. It's because of this rubric - with the initial version of Kermit The Frog -, that The Muppets are inspired. 

The characters of The Muppets became popular among the general public, especially after their appearance in ads of major brands. The first two puppets to gain more prominence were the Cookie Monster, who appeared in an IBM ad, eating a computer and the Dog Rowlf, already with national exposure, that appeared in an advertisement for the Purina brand. Rowlf would be the first muppet to gained life when, in 1963, appeared in the big screen, on the The Jimmy Dean Show. Between 1963 and 1965, Henson began to produce short films as Time Piece, which was nominated for an Oscar. 

In 1969, the puppeteer joined Children's Television Workshop to produce a show for PBS: Sesame Street. This program was a huge success even at an international level and would be a phenomenon of audiences, especially among the youngest. Inevitably, the big yellow bird's image pops up in our minds. Am I not right?

Sesame Street would be the starting point Henson created The Muppets. The program was funded by TV Lord Lew Grade, a London-based producer, and its premiere in 1976. The "Muppet Show" was set in a theatre in which well-known puppets of the general public such as the toad Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the Fozzie Bear who were constantly criticized by the old Waldorf and Statler who watched the show in their cabin. The show invited high-society, singers, Hollywood stars, such as Charles Aznavour, Roger Moore or Paul Simon, among others, making caricature interviews, fun, irreverent and even impertinent. "The Muppet Show" was on air until 1981, seen in more than 100 countries around the world and reached incredible audiences of 235 million viewers. For his irreverence and association with the big names in television and society at large, "The Muppet Show" was awarded with three Emmys.

The impact of the five seasons of the series of the The Muppets was so great that Henson reproduced feature films with his puppets: The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Mupper Caper (1981), The Muppet Babies (1984), The Muppets conquer NY City (1984) and other adaptations for television and film. Most recently, the Walt Disney Company acquired legal rights over The Muppets for 52 million euros – legal rights over Sesame Street were not included in the deal –  and introduced a new version of The Muppets where it included well-known names like singer Selena Gomes, one of the sensation singers for the younger ones. Earlier this year, Brian Henson, Jim's son and current CEO of his father's company, produced "The Happytime Murders: Sex. Murder. Puppets" which included excellent actors like Melissa McCarthy, Michael McDonald or Maya Rudolph.

Jim Henson became known for Sesame Street and the Muppets, however, he was the producer of great films of the 1980s such as The Dark Crystal and The Larithin. Puppeteer, producer and film director, Henson, left an innovative legacy worldwide for which the Jim Henson Legacy was created, in order to preserve its contribution. Jim Henson and his daughter, Cheryl, opened the Jim Henson Foundation that aims to support the theatre dolls in America.

It is said that "time passes and wills change", but do not change the affection for these puppets. But why are these puppets so successfully? We may not have a scientific answer to the question, but the truth is that everyone is in our memory: Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Floyd, Animal, Statler and Waldorft, and all the other characters that last in our imaginary and that are part of our history.

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