When Jim Henson’s Muppets debuted on Sesame Street in 1969, it instantly enthralled kids the world over. Since then, the puppeteer’s colorful cast of critters have captivated countless generations. As iconic as his creations were, however, Henson had different plans for them entirely. And if the entertainer had his way, the Muppets would have appealed to a wholly different demographic.
Having worked in TV, film and advertising, Jim Henson had a wide and varied resume. But for most people, the puppeteer was synonymous with one thing, children’s entertainment. Indeed, as The New York Times noted upon the performer’s 1990 death, his work with the Muppets “won the hearts of a generation.”
Fittingly, Henson developed his interest in puppetry at a young age. Inspired as a child by TV personality Burr Tillstrom, the entertainer began hosting puppet shows for his Cub Scout friends. Before he’d even graduated from high school, the entertainer had already turned his hobby into a potential career through valuable experience on a local kids’ TV show.