Jim Henson: The Biography

Version: Unabridged
Author: Brian Jay Jones
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Science
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: September 2013
# of Units: 17 CDs
Length: 4 hours, 50 minutes
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For the first time ever--a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century's most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson
He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were just part of his remarkable story.
This extraordinary biography--written with the generous cooperation of the Henson family--covers the full arc of Henson's all-too-brief life: from his childhood in Leland, Mississippi, through the years of burgeoning fame in America, to the decade of international celebrity that preceded his untimely death at age fifty-three. Drawing on hundreds of hours of new interviews with Henson's family, friends, and closest collaborators, as well as unprecedented access to private family and company archives, Brian Jay Jones explores the creation of the Muppets, Henson's contributions to "Sesame Street "and" Saturday Night Live, "and his nearly ten-year campaign to bring "The Muppet Show" to television. Jones provides the imaginative context for Henson's non-Muppet projects, including the richly imagined worlds of "The Dark Crystal "and" Labyrinth"--as well as fascinating misfires like Henson's dream of opening an inflatable psychedelic nightclub.
An uncommonly intimate portrait, "Jim Henson" captures all the facets of this American original: the master craftsman who revolutionized the presentation of puppets on television, the savvy businessman whose dealmaking prowess won him a reputation as "the new Walt Disney," and the creative team leader whose collaborative ethos earned him the undying loyalty of everyone who worked for him. Here also is insight into Henson's intensely private personal life: his Christian Science upbringing, his love of fast cars and expensive art, and his weakness for women. Though an optimist by nature, Henson was haunted by the notion that he would not have time to do all the things he wanted to do in life--a fear that his heartbreaking final hours would prove all too well founded.
An up-close look at the charmed life of a legend, "Jim Henson" gives the full measure to a man whose joyful genius transcended age, language, geography, and culture--and continues to beguile audiences worldwide.
Advance praise for "Jim Henson"
"I'm a rabid Jim Henson fan--his brilliant ideas spawned shows that entertained and educated millions, myself included. "Jim Henson" vibrantly delves into the magnificent man and his Muppet methods. It's an absolute must read!"--Neil Patrick Harris
"[Brian Jay Jones's] lucid style, wide-angle perspective, and deep immersion in Henson's exuberantly innovative approach to puppets, television, and film make for a thoroughly compelling read. . . . With verve and insight, Jones illuminates the full scope of Henson's genius, phenomenal productivity, complex private life, zeal to do good, and astronomical influence."--"Booklist "(starred review)
"I worked with Jim for more than thirty years. He was one of my closest friends. And yet I found out things about him in "Jim Henson" that were new to me. Brian Jay Jones has captured the layers of Jim's genius and humanity, as well as the flaws that made Jim, like all of us, so delightfully imperfect. Jim needed this book to be written. I thank Brian for giving Jim life again. This book has captured the spirit of Jim Henson."--Frank Oz

Reviews (2)

Written by Ken S on January 23rd, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

If you loved Jim Henson, his muppets, his gentle humanity and creativity, you'll enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek into both his personal and professional life. The narrator is easy to listen to and does quite a good job sounding like each person quoted in the story.

Written by Stacey Normandy on October 19th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 4/5

18 hours into the 21 hour reading of this book. Just for fans at this level of depth. Interesting Jim Henson facts: 1)"only" 6 foot one but looked taller due to a 30 inch waist and 38 inch length shirt sleeves. 2) Was approached by George Lucas to voice and perform "Yoda" for "Star Wars" but recommended Frank Oz for the job. 3) Spent every cent he had to buy "The Dark Crystal" back from the financiers in 1982 so they wouldn't make him drastically change the movie after a few bad test screening - doubled his money. 4) Died the same day as Sammy Davis. Jr. Good book but for big fans only.

Author Details

Author Details

Jones, Brian Jay

Brian Jay Jones served as a speechwriter, ghostwriter, and policy analyst for two U.S. senators. A former associate superintendent of education in Arizona, he now works as a writer and policy analyst. He lives with his wife and daughter in Damascus, Maryland.